More inexperienced boaters, many without insurance: Lawyer

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With the pandemic prompting many to vacation within Ontario this summer, there is an increase in boating by inexperienced boaters and many don’t have the proper insurance, cautions a personal injury law firm.

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“In Ontario, there is currently no law that requires you to carry insurance on your boat,” said Nainesh Kotak, founder of Kotak Personal Injury Law. “Typically, boating accidents may be caused by driver error, alcohol, travelling at high speeds, or nighttime boating, to name a few. Injuries can be quite severe as a result, so having sufficient boating insurance is imperative.

“For example, if you are involved in an accident and the other boater was at fault, but they do not have boat insurance, you would need to have uninsured/underinsured boaters coverage to cover you or your family members if injured,” he added. “Even with this coverage, you should review to ensure you are properly protected in case of an accident.”

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In August 2019, television personality Kevin O’Leary was in a boat driven by his wife, Linda, which was involved in a fatal crash in the Muskoka region. Two people died and three other people suffered injuries.

Linda O’Leary has pleaded not guilty to a charge of careless operation of a vessel under the Canada Shipping Act at her ongoing trial.

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A Canadian boating survey says in Ontario there was an increase in boat sales of 26% in 2020 over the year before. There was also an increase in boat rentals by 17% last year, compared to   2019.

In Canada, 16 million people enjoy recreational boating.

The major types of boat accidents include collisions, hitting another vessel’s wake or a large wave, and hitting an object like a rock.

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“There are similarities between operating a vehicle and a boat, such as licensing and safety regulations, as well as laws regarding movement and traffic. However, boating accident victims do not have some of the same protections as a motor vehicle accident victim,” said Kotak.

People need to be aware that a boating accident victim cannot claim no-fault benefits under Ontario’s statutory accident benefits schedule, he added.

Like operating a motor vehicle, there are safety regulations, speed limits, rights of way, and traffic signs. Boaters are required to have a boating licence.

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