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Old 07-05-2014, 11:35   #1
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Captain Damaged Neighboring Boat- Who is Responsible?

I'm not sure if this is the right category to ask this question, but here goes:

I bought a 64' motoryacht, and hired a captain to bring it from Ft. Lauderdale to my marina in Miami. Right off the bat, the captain, while doing a 180 in the Lauderdale marina, swung the bow into a neighbor's boat, and did about $1500 of damage to the rub rail and stanchion.

The marina sent me a bill for the $1500, but I'm pissed- I don't think I should have to pay it. Who is financially responsible in this scenario? Me (the boat owner), or the hired captain?

Additional info: I can't file an insurance claim because my deductible is more than $1500, and the hired captain does not carry his own insurance.

Thanks for your opinions.
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:49   #2
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Re: Captain damaged neighboring boat- who is responsible?

tomjack - I think you've just spent $1500. When I had my boat delivered, I made sure the captain had insurance. I think there is implicit responsibility when you hire a captain. It's like using an accountant- ultimately you're the end of the line, no matter how good your intentions.
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:55   #3
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Re: Captain damaged neighboring boat- who is responsible?

He is a contractor if he has no insurance you cover it. Then you can maybe small claims him.

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Old 07-05-2014, 12:02   #4
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Re: Captain damaged neighboring boat- who is responsible?

Suck it up to experience. You have a 64 foot motor yacht. $1,500 should be chump change.

Seriously, with no insurance coverage, it's simple, pay up and move on.

Good, even better, luck in the future.
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:07   #5
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Re: Captain damaged neighboring boat- who is responsible?

As much as it hurts...I don't see how it's not the responsibility of the Boat Owner to pay for damages and then if you want/can go after the Captain to reimburse you. Look at it from the other guys point of view, your boat damaged his and he doesn't care if it was you, a hired captain or the tooth fairy at the helm. The owner is responsible for the actions of his boat/employee/contractor.
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:15   #6
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Re: Captain damaged neighboring boat- who is responsible?

Here in the UK a delivery skipper asked me to sign a contract which would have made me his and his crew's legal employer for the duration of the trip.
Until I read the contract I'd assumed I was paying an independent contractor for his services.

As an employer I would have been responsible for anything and everything - damage, bar bills, their lives - despite not even being present myself.
The virtually unlimited liability that would have exposed me to was more than I (or my insurer) was prepared to accept and I made other arrangements.

I don't write blank cheques.

Maybe the possibility of being "named and shamed" might make your captain get his wallet out of his purse?
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:22   #7
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Re: Captain damaged neighboring boat- who is responsible?

What is it with Americans?
Always looking to sue someone.
Genuine mistakes can happen not to mention s#$t, so unless it was total recklessness on your Captain's behalf (in which case he should pay and maybe you should warn others not to hire him as well), she's your boat and you should insure her and everyone on board.
We carry insurance even for crew who join us on any given leg on top of 3rd party liability and full insurance for our boat.
Unfortunately there are deductibles and the higher they are, the more careful you should be (as if you shouldn't always).
I have delivered over 40 boats with zero claims or damages (touch wood) and no insurance (on my behalf). Always the boat's insurance.
Like said above, good and better luck next time.
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:32   #8
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Re: Captain damaged neighboring boat- who is responsible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atraxia View Post
What is it with Americans?
Always looking to sue someone.
Ahhhh, stereotypes. How lovely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atraxia View Post
... so unless it was total recklessness on your Captain's behalf (in which case he should pay...
So I guess in Sweden when you ask someone for compensation, they just give it to you whether they think they are at fault or not. That's awesome.

Bottom line if there is no contract between owner and captain which addresses liability issues, then it's the owner's legal responsibility.
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:45   #9
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Re: Captain damaged neighboring boat- who is responsible?

If I let someone else drive my car and they cause an accident, it's my liability insurance that covers damages and/or injuries to the other car/driver. Certain behavior on the part of the driver (impairment, etc) can be a factor for which the driver may have to account, but the damages to the other party will be paid for out of your insurance - or, in this case, your pocket since the deductible is so high.

An owner of a large yacht such as yours would do well to bone up on these issues - important when you have such a large target motoring around.

Blanket characterizations regarding we ugly Americans do not help the discussion.
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:52   #10
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Re: Captain damaged neighboring boat- who is responsible?

Chances are even if the Captain had insurance it's probably with a deductible as well so you're right back where you started unless you had a contract shifting liability to him.

I think he is an employee and therefore you are responsible for whatever damage he causes...similar to a trucking company with hired drivers.

Did you pay him in advance? If not you can let the courts sort it out but I suspect you will lose.
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:56   #11
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pirate Re: Captain damaged neighboring boat- who is responsible?

I don't carry insurance.. and owners are made aware of this.. and.. its also why I do not charge $350- $450/day..
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:59   #12
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Re: Captain damaged neighboring boat- who is responsible?

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If I let someone else drive my car and they cause an accident, it's my liability insurance that covers damages and/or injuries to the other car/driver.
.
Really? I didn't know that. I've always assumed the driver of the vehicle is responsible. If I let someone borrow my car and they kill somebody with it, me and my insurance company are liable not the driver? I'm going to call my agent right now and confirm that.

*************

Just got off the phone with AAA and was told the driver of the vehicle is liable but the owner is responsible if the driver doesn't have adequate insurance to cover the damage. Moral of the story is if you're going to loan your vehicle to someone make sure they have adequate coverage of their own.
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Old 07-05-2014, 13:04   #13
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Re: Captain damaged neighboring boat- who is responsible?

Your fault. You hired him, he screwed up, that means you screwed up, you have to pay damages.
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Old 07-05-2014, 13:08   #14
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Re: Captain damaged neighboring boat- who is responsible?

I would think when you hired him you signed a contract that spells out exactly who is responsible. If not, you really should have.
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Old 07-05-2014, 13:14   #15
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Re: Captain damaged neighboring boat- who is responsible?

Ive had this scenario.

  • Its real simple.
  • Its the owners boat.
  • The boat caused the damage.
  • The owner pays for it.
  • It was not stolen,
  • it was being moved under direction of the owner, with owners permission and assumed liability.
  • The helmsman is owners agent.
You can fight with the Captain over the issue later. A waste of time but you can fight if you have the energy. He just has to point out to you the above.

It also means when you 'hire' a delivery skipper without being under their insurance cover, YOU are liable for loss of life and injury to any of them. Its your vessel. You are the 'employer' as owner of the vessel.

Make sure your insurance company know and have their agreement in writing. MAKE SURE!
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