Learn Your Legal Rights Following a Boating Accident Injury

More than 15 million Canadians take to the waters annually for boating. However, this recreational pursuit is associated with a concerning prevalence of accidents.

Based on a report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), a boating collision occurred near Riverland Road on the Winnipeg River. In the tragic incident, a woman lost her life after hitting her head on her boat’s propeller when the vessel struck a log.

From 1991 to 2000, Canada witnessed 1,952 boating fatalities, with 1,803 attributed to drownings and 149 to non-drowning deaths, primarily due to trauma (98) and hypothermia (51).

After verification, data later revealed that boating incidents accounted for 33% of drownings and 41% of non-drowning deaths.

Experienced lawyers in Calgary can handle your boating accident case and help you resolve legal matters effectively.

Key Takeaways:

  • Over 15 million Canadians go boating every year.
  • Boating accidents are highly prevalent in Canada.
  • Water-related accidents lead to trauma and death.

The Basics of Boating Accidents

A boating accident involves motorized watercraft like powerboats and non-motorized crafts, such as kayaks and canoes.


Any of the three following categories qualify as a boating accident:

  • Instances of multiple vessel collisions occur when two or more boats collide, whether engaged in water sports, fishing, sailing, or even while stationary at a dock.
  • Collisions between a vessel and an object happen when a boat collides with obstacles such as piers, logs, ports, bridges, or rocks.
  • On-vessel accidents encompass incidents occurring while on a vessel, ranging from slips and falls to drownings resulting from equipment failures.

Potential Causes and Patterns

Understanding the causes and patterns of boating accidents is crucial for implementing effective safety measures and precautions. Boaters can proactively mitigate risks and ensure a safer boating experience for themselves and others on the water.

Description Examples
The most common fatal boating accidents The boat overturns, and occupants fall overboard.
Common vessels in accidents Small powerboats (under 5.5m), like small open fishing boats.
Common causes of accidents Failure to plan for rough weather, boating under the influence, not wearing life jackets, speeding and dangerous maneuvers.
Common cause of death Drowning or immersion hypothermia
Common trauma injuries causing death Head/brain injuries, spinal injuries, fractures, and major lacerations.

Boating Accidents Liability in Ontario

The Marine Liability Act (MLA) governs boating accidents in Ontario. It sets guidelines for filing claims and compensation limits after boating accidents. Boating accidents involve multiple legal areas, assuming awareness of safety regulations among boat operators and passengers.

Relevant Legislation Awareness:

  • Highway Traffic Act: Defines duty of care and prohibits impaired operation.
  • Insurance Act: Governs marine insurance rules.
  • Occupier’s Liability Act: Outlines duty to ensure passenger safety.
  • Canada Shipping Act: Covers vessel registration, maintenance, and safety regulations.
  • Criminal Code: Addresses federal offences, including dangerous operations, unseaworthy vessel operations, and failure to stop incidents.

Boat Owner’s Presumption of Liability

The Maritime Law Act (MLA) presumes that, unless proven otherwise, the vessel’s owner is at fault or negligent in the event of an accident. The owners and operators are responsible for maintaining the vessel’s safety and ensuring the well-being of all onboard. They are liable if they neglect known risks.

For instance, if an individual sustains injuries from defective water sports equipment while tubing in the Kawarthas, the boat’s owner could be held accountable if they were aware or should have been aware of the equipment’s unsafe condition.

Legal Recourse for Injuries on Pleasure Crafts

  • The Maritime Law Act (MLA) allows accident victims, dependents, or surviving family members to seek damages against the owner or operator of a pleasure craft.
  • Financial compensation may be attainable from the boat owner’s insurance if they partly caused injuries. At the same time, other boaters or boating authorities could also face lawsuits for vessel maintenance lapses or inadequate hazard warnings.
  • Seeking immediate legal advice after a boating accident. The MLA mandates filing personal injury claims within two years of the incident or the victim’s death, with exceptions allowed for extraordinary circumstances.


The MLA mandates a limit to personal injury damages of $1,000,000 for boats under 300 tonnes in Ontario. Injured individuals in Ontario may seek compensation for losses from boating accidents, including pain and suffering, lost income, future healthcare costs, and out-of-pocket expenses.

Unlike car accidents, pursuing compensation for boating accidents can be more complex as there is no “no-fault” accident coverage, meaning victims aren’t automatically entitled to statutory accident benefits. Typically, compensation is obtained through boating insurance or after the resolution of a lawsuit.

Why Hire a Lawyer?

  • Legal Guidance: A lawyer specializing in boating accidents can navigate complex legal processes and protect your rights.
  • Investigation: Lawyers conduct thorough examinations to gather evidence and determine liability to strengthen your case.
  • Maximizing compensation: Calgary lawyers can evaluate the magnitude of damages, covering medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, to pursue maximum compensation.
  • Negotiation: Lawyers can negotiate with insurers and other parties on your behalf to achieve a fair settlement.
  • Litigation representation: If necessary, Calgary lawyers can represent you in court, advocating for your interests and rights throughout the litigation process.


Understanding your legal rights following a boating accident injury is essential for protecting yourself and seeking appropriate compensation. You can confidently traverse the legal aspects of the aftermath of a boating accident by educating yourself on relevant laws and regulations, consulting with legal experts, and taking proactive steps to assert your rights.

Seeking legal guidance from Sidhu Personal Injury Lawyers Calgary to pursue the best possible outcome for your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of boating accidents occur most frequently?

  • Slip and fall incidents aboard the vessel
  • Collisions with other watercraft, debris, or rocks
  • Injuries from water sports
  • Swimming-related collisions
  • Boat sinking incidents
  • Drowning

When is a driver or passenger presumed at fault in a boating accident?

  • Operating a boat while under the influence of substances, alcohol or drugs.
  • Lack of experience in navigating watercraft safely.
  • Going beyond the speed limits.
  • Reckless driving behaviours, including erratic maneuvers.
  • Failure to observe other people or crafts on the water.

What is the boating speed limit in Canada?

The boating speed limit in Canada, particularly in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia, is set at 10 km/h (6 mph) within 30 meters (100 ft) from shore. This speed restriction applies to all waters within these provinces unless otherwise indicated by posted limits.

How much will it cost to hire a boating accident lawyer?

The cost can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of your case, the lawyer’s experience, and the fee structure they use. Some lawyers may work on a contingency fee basis, where their payment depends on your case’s successful outcome and compensation.