We recently represented a client who was injured on an inner tube that was being pulled by a motor boat. The operator of the boat pulled him in a negligent fashion and did not pay attention to the amount of slack on the line. Our client’s tube was basically forced up 5-7 feet in the air and came down on a wave. From the awkward impact with the wave, our client suffered a torn rotator cuff that required surgery and extended physical therapy. Our client was a very nice gentleman in his late 60’s. He was semi-retired and had not planned on an event like this one forcing him to undergo invasive and painful medical treatment. The boat operator’s insurer paid to settle the case.
This case is worth talking about because boating injury claims/lawsuits are not commonly filed. And, when they are, they can be complicated. Injuries that happen on a body of water present a lot of interesting legal questions. When lawyers talk about water injuries, they often reference “admiralty” or “maritime” law. But whether admiralty/maritime law applies to a water injury depends on a number of factors. One major issue is whether the body of water that flows between multiple states (i.e., the Mississippi river) or is confined to one state (i.e., the Lake of the Ozarks).
The answer to this question and others can determine the applicability of admiralty/maritime and can influence where is the appropriate place to file the case. Boating injuries – whether to a driver, occupant, pedestrian/swimmer, or someone being pulled by a boat on an inner tube or water ski – can be very serious. And we have the experience to handle these cases.