McArthur Law Firm

Is This Boat Safe? Defective Design May Have Caused Deaths

iStock-513688464-resize-300x200.jpgIs your boat safe? As the warm weather continues to bathe the coasts and waterways, many turn to recreational boating to beat the heat and enjoy time with family. But before you hop aboard, you should know about two boating accidentlawsuits that suggest serious problems in the design and manufacture of some watercraft.

Boating Lawsuits - Is Defective Design the Culprit?

The first lawsuit involves a young Florida boy who died in a Georgia lake after the boat he was riding hit a wave. The second involves a California woman who suffered serious head trauma after she fell overboard. The propeller struck her in the head four times.

The family of the Florida boy filed their lawsuit alleging that the boat they were riding in had a defective design. The boat in question is a Malibu Response LX, a revision of the Malibu Response. The difference between the two is that the LX has a hole cut in the front deck. This hole helps to accommodate more seats in the bow. According to a video deposition of the company's former CEO and founder, no engineering adjustments were made to accommodate added weight in the front of the boat. The only testing the LX went through was personal testing; no test documents exist, according to the deposition

The second incident involved a MasterCraft boat. Inadequate design and testing, the lawsuit alleged, lead to the serious brain injury. MasterCraft denied the defects, but a jury found the company 80 percent at fault for the California woman's injuries. She was awarded $30 million, which was appealed and eventually settled without admitting liability.

Without much federal oversight, boat manufacturers have a lot of freedom regarding testing and design of their products. Before you ever get on board a recreational boat, you should look up whether the boat is safe.

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