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When boating causes a wrongful death

Boating can seem like a peaceful activity, especially on New Mexico's beautiful waterways. Though boating may seem like a harmless pastime, it can also be the cause of accidents that result in injury or death. In some cases, a fatality that results from a negligent boater may legally be considered a wrongful death.

Right of way

Many people believe that right of way applies only to cars on roadways. In fact, right of way also includes boaters on the water. Boats have to obey certain "traffic" regulations, just as motor vehicles do. When boaters do not follow these regulations, they can cause serious accidents--even deaths. A boater who disregards another boat's right of way and causes a death as a result may have behaved negligently, and may be held liable for the victim's wrongful death.

Negligence on the water

There are many other ways in which a boat operator could behave negligently. Just a few of these include:

  • Operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Speeding on the water
  • Neglecting to properly maintain the boat
  • Overloading a boat beyond its weight capacity
  • Boating without a license or failing to take mandated safety courses

The criteria for a wrongful death case

Like other wrongful death accidents, wrongful deaths that involve boats must involve a breach of duty to someone responsible for maintaining or operating a boat; death as a result of the breach; and damages.  If all three of these factors are present in the boating death, then there may be grounds for a wrongful death case.

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