What do I do if I am hurt in a boating accident?

What do I do if I am hurt in a boating accident?

Many Albertans love to go to a lake to cool off in the summer, either as swimmers or aboard a boat. Sadly, there is always the risk of injury when motorized vehicles are being operated on water. If you have suffered an injury due to someone else's actions in a watercraft, contact one of our team members to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

What are the types of boating accidents?

The most frequent types of boating accidents include:

  • slip and fall accidents on the deck of the boat;
  • collisions with other boats or stationary objects;
  • Injuries from water sports, such as water skiing;
  • being struck by a boat while swimming; and
  • being injured as a passenger due to someone's careless watercraft operation.

What are the causes of boating accidents?

Many of the accidents that occur on the water result from recklessness or negligence. In some cases, it can be shown that someone operating a watercraft unsafely was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Or maybe they were not following safety measures and therefore were endangering others. In other instances, the boat owner did not maintain the craft properly, which led to injury-causing malfunctions such as carbon monoxide poisoning in a small enclosed space. Or perhaps the person in control of the boat was not licensed to operate the craft.

Are there laws about the age of boaters?

In Alberta, children under 12 cannot operate a recreational vessel powered by anything more than a 10-horsepower (hp) engine unless they are directly supervised by someone 16 years of age or older. Youths between 12 and under 16 years of age must be directly supervised by someone 16 years of age or older to operate a recreational vessel that is more than 40 hp. Only those 16 years or older can operate a recreational vehicle on the water without supervision.

Are there speed limits on the water? 

Boaters in Alberta must observe a speed limit of 10 km/hr within 30 metres of the shore. This limit applies to all waterways and lakes within the province, except where other limits are posted or if a river is less than 100 metres in width. If you are injured by a boater who is speeding or too close to shore when an accident happens, that could work in your favour when making a claim.

Are there limits on compensation for boating accidents?

Those injured in a boating accident or their family in the event the injury was fatal must rely on the rules set out in the federal Marine Liability Act when making compensation claims. Under the Act, liability is determined by the tonnage of the boats involved, as opposed to the nature of the injury. As s. 29 of the Act states, "the maximum liability for maritime claims that arise on any distinct occasion involving a ship of less than 300 gross tonnage is $1 million in respect of claims for loss of life or personal injury and $500,000 in respect of any other claims."

Is there a limitation period for starting a lawsuit?

Just as with an automobile accident, legal action must be brought within two years of a boating accident. If you have been injured in an accident involving a watercraft, don't delay in making a claim, hoping your condition will improve on its own.

What do I do after the accident?

You must gather information as soon as possible after the boating accident. If possible, take photographs of the scene, including the vessel that was involved. Make notes about the time of day and the weather conditions. Document the type of watercraft involved and inquire if the operator had a valid Pleasure Craft Operator Card, also known as a boat licence. Get the names of other parties or witnesses, the name of the boat and hull identification number, and any insurance information. The more details you gather, the easier it will be to prepare a claim.

What is a watercraft?

A watercraft is anything that can be used on Alberta's lakes and rivers for recreational purposes. That includes:

  • Powerboats
  • Jet skis
  • Sea-Doos
  • Ski boats
  • Runabouts
  • Wakeboarding boats
  • Cabin cruisers
  • Sailboats
  • Whitewater rafting vessels
  • Canoes or kayaks



A personal injury lawyer can help guide you through your options and help you obtain the compensation you need to help you recover from any injuries. They can also make sure that your insurance company does not attempt to limit the compensation that you are owed. Schedule your Free Consultation by calling 1 (403) 930-8594 or send a message to kantor@kantorllp.ca. We will represent you on a contingency fee basis, so we do not get paid for our time and attention until we settle.