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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Chartering
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Old 03-19-2007
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Skipper's Liability?

I have a goal of acquiring sufficient experience and training to bareboat charter in the future, perhaps in a couple of years. Iíve a question that I havenít seen addressed here or elsewhere regarding liability for the skipper of a charter boat with friends along to share the fun and expense. I assume the bareboat contract is between the skipper and the charter company, so if friends share in the cost of the charter, what are the liability implications for the skipper? If payment for the per-person cost of the charter is made through the skipper, does this expose him to increased liability should illness or accident occur to one of the friends/crew during the charter? How do those of you who include friends on a bareboat charter address this?
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Old 03-19-2007
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While I don't generally charter boats, I don't see how the acting captain of a chartered boat could be held "liable" for an illness, unless it was food poisoning of some sort...

Also, what do you mean by accident... someone tripping down the companionway because they are drunk is an accident, but so is ramming another boat or running someone over with the dinghy and chopping their leg off with the dinghy's outboard motor.

Also, what do yo mean the per-person cost of the charter is made through the skipper? Do you mean that the skipper has paid the charter company and that each of the participants in the charter have paid him, rather than the charter company directly??

Also, the people I consider my friends aren't generally the kind to hold me liable, even if the accident was my fault... you seem to have a strange definition of friendship IMHO.

You might want to think about what you're really trying to ask about and clarify the questions you ask a bit more.
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Old 03-19-2007
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Good answer SD. If your "friends" are likely to sue you, don't bring them to your house, don't drive them in your car, and for heaven's sake don't bring them o a boat with you! How the hell are you supposed to have any fun thinking like that?
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OK. Say for example “Joe” bareboat charters a boat and invites “Sam”, his good friend, along and they agree to split the cost. Joe is the only one qualified to skipper the boat according to the charter company, so the contract to charter is between the company and Joe. During the charter trip the boat heels during a wind gust while Sam is descending the companionway steps and Sam loses his balance, falls and cracks his head open on the corner of the nav desk. Sam dies of his injury. Later, Sam’s only relative, a sister named Sue who Joe has never met, sues Joe for negligence because Joe, as skipper of the boat, allowed it to heel resulting in Sam’s untimely death. Does Joe’s status as skipper of the boat expose him to such liability?
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Old 03-19-2007
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I think to fully be aware of your liability in such circumstances, you'd have to have a copy of the charter agreement. I would assume, some form of liability insurance would be part of it. Of course, the best way to insure yourself, would be to have a legally binding agreement with your guests, vis-a-vis, your liability as skipper of the vessel.
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Thanks for the reply PBzeer. Thatís what Iím wondering- does the liability coverage of the charter company protect the skipper beyond physical damage to the boat? Or is a supplemental policy of some sort needed? I have no experience in such matters so I was wondering if this is a consideration of those with charter experience.
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Bryan53-

You do realize that sailing is considered a sport with risk of physical injuries, regardless of whether it is done on a 14' Laser sailing dinghy or a 42' charter boat and that anyone who isn't prepared to take responsibility for themselves and those risks has no damn business being on a boat.

"One hand for yourself and one hand for the boat", is a saying that has a strong reason behind it.

A liability waiver that clearly states that sailing is a dangerous sport and as such could result in injury or death is something that would cover that situation, and requires no liability insurance. IMHO, by consenting to go on the charter Sam was assuming all risks involved in doing so. Unless it could be proven that Joe intentionally did something in an attempt to harm Sam, I don't really see how Joe has any liability for Sam's own negligence.

I am getting tired of frivilous lawsuits in this overly litigious country, and feel that if people were made to pay the defendant's court costs and the plaintiff's lawyers were hit with some sort of financial penalty in cases that were found to be without merit, there would be far fewer of them.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

óCpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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StillóDON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.

Last edited by sailingdog; 03-19-2007 at 08:05 AM.
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Old 03-19-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog
I am getting tired of frivilous lawsuits in this overly litigious country, and feel that if people were made to pay the defendant's court costs and the plaintiff's lawyers were hit with some sort of financial penalty in cases that were found to be without merit, there would be far fewer of them.
Amen. That's the way it should be, but it's not the current reality.
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Old 03-19-2007
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Hi Bryan,

I think your concerns of possible litigation are valid - despite the low likelihood of such an event. I tend to be conservative and manage risk accordingly. On my own boats, I have always carried substantial liability insurance through an umbrella policy. Check with your home insurance broker about how this would work and associated costs.

Sialia
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Old 03-19-2007
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I just went and looked at the insurance coverage provided OR AVAILABLE by Moorings/Sunsail and it provides NO liability coverage for accident or injury to people aboard. I think Sialia's suggestion about checking up with your homeowners policy agent is a good one!
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