Jet Ski Accidents
Renting jet-skis to take out on the local waterways can be a great time for any age group. However, problems arise when jet-ski renters are injured after signing a liability release waiver which protects the business from being sued when the renter does in fact get hurt while riding the jet-ski. While this waiver may protect the business owner from being sued when participants suffer certain injuries, the renter has not signed away all of their rights to sue the jet-ski owner, manufacturer or other operators.Jet-Ski Injury Liability Waiver
Jet-skis are personal water crafts which are capable of extreme speed and maneuverability. Inexperienced riders can easily hop onto a jet-ski and go to town by simply listening to a five minute instructional safety lecture and, of course, by signing a waiver releasing the owner of liability for injuries which occur while operating the jet-ski. This waiver, if written properly, will protect the jet-ski owner from certain lawsuits arising from injuries sustained while on the jet-ski. For instance, if you are inattentively operating a jet-ski and hit a pole, you are obviously at fault and the business owner will most likely not be liable for your injury unless the waiver was poorly written or faulty. However, there are numerous instances in which injury can occur while riding a jet-ski and the owner, or another operator, can be liable for suit.Causes of Jet-Ski Injuries
While some accidents are simply accidents which could not have been foreseen, other accidents could have been prevented if not for the negligent actions of another. Your jet-ski injury could have been caused by a reckless or intoxicated operator, a negligent jet-ski rental company, another watercraft, or even the jet-ski manufacturer. If your injury was caused by the fault of another entity, whether it is another operator or the jet-ski owner / manufacturer, you have not lost all your rights to sue as a jet-ski renter by signing a liability waiver. In each of the instances mentioned above, the injured jet-ski renter would have the right to file a lawsuit against another party.
The Most Common Causes of Jet-Ski Injuries Are:
- Falling at High Rates of Speed
- Colliding with Objects like Poles, Docks, Buoys, Sand Bars or Debris.
- Collisions with Other Jet-Skis
- Accidents due to Inadequate Instructions
- Accidents due to Equipment Failure
Negligence: Most jet-ski injuries which form the basis of lawsuits are caused by the negligence of a third party. In order to show that someone else was negligent in causing your injury on the jet-ski, it must be shown that this other party was legally responsible or at fault: "but for" their action, you would not have been injured.
Suing a Third Party Operator: Another person operating a jet-ski may be liable for your injury if they caused it by the negligent operation of their jet-ski. For example, a person may exceed the speed limitations, operate the jet-ski while intoxicated, ride too closely to other jet-skis or break any rule in which the person was legally responsible to abide by. In these instances, you would be able to sue the other operator for their negligent operation and possibly even the rental company if they were negligent in allowing the person to operate the jet-ski (such as if the operator was clearly intoxicated).
Suing a Jet-Ski Rental Company or Manufacturer: In order to sue the jet-ski rental company, the injury which occurs must be the result of some sort of defect or negligent maintenance of the jet-ski. For example, the jet-ski owner may not have had the jet-ski inspected within the legally prescribed time frame in which the jet-ski is required to be inspected. If the jet-ski were to cause a person to be injured and it could have been prevented if it were inspected in proper time, the owner will be liable for the injury. Lawsuits can also arise, as mentioned previously, if the rental company was negligent in allowing someone to operate a jet-ski who should have not been behind the controls.
There are other instances in which a manufacturer or rental company can be sued for the injury you sustained on a jet-ski, even after you signed a release of liability waiver:
- The jet-ski may be defective or broken (controls go out, engine catches fire, etc..)
- The liability waiver may be poorly written and not legally binding
- The signing of the waiver may have been coercive or involuntary
- The jet-ski may experience machinery malfunction
- The rental company may not have adhered to a given state's jet-ski laws
- The area in which you were jet-skiing may have been poorly maintained
- You were outside of the maintained area and the instructors or company did not stop you in reasonable time.
Jet-Skiing is an inherently dangerous sport and those involved are choosing to subject themselves to possibility of sustaining some sort of injury or accident. The rental company owner or negligent jet-ski operator in which you attempt to sue may raise the "assumption of risk" defense: since you chose to be involved in an inherently dangerous action then you are not entitled to compensation when you happen to be injured in the course of that action. While in certain circumstances this may be the case, the injuries which would result from "assumption of the risk" are already covered by the liability release waiver. Jet-ski defects, machinery malfunctions or the negligent operation of another jet-ski which caused the injury would in no way be covered by the "assumption of the risk" defense.Getting Legal Help
The ability to sue and outcomes of lawsuits will depend on local statutes, rules, and regulations which are different from state to state. Jet-ski injury lawsuits can be extremely complex and if you are thinking about filing a lawsuit after being injured on a jet-ski it may be best to consult a personal injury attorney familiar with your state's jet-ski laws.