In the city of San Luis Obispo, when a boating accident occurs and the owner has demonstrated a failure to have sufficient safety equipment aboard the boat, that owner can be held legally liable for any injuries or property damage that occurs as a result of the accident.

The type and number of pieces of safety equipment aboard a boat is dictated by law in California. The type of safety equipment that must be on a boat depends on the type and size of the vessel. Here is a brief outline of what must be present.

Sailboat or Manually Propelled Vessel

The minimum safety requirements for these types of boats are life jackets, navigation lights and sound signaling devices. Life jackets must be Coast-Guard approved and available for each person aboard the boat. Navigation lights must be displayed between sunset and sunrise. A whistle or a bell or some other means of sound must be present. Additionally, there must be visual distress signals aboard a boat that is operating on coastal waters.

Motorboats Less Than 16 Feet

In addition to the safety equipment that has been stated for use aboard a sailboat, a motorboat less than 16 feet in length must have a fire extinguisher, a backfire flame arrestor and a muffling system. A motorboat must also have a ventilation system. Motorboats longer than 16 feet must also have these things, but the requirements for their size are different.

If you operate a boat, is is in your best interest to understand what type of safety equipment is required to be present aboard your vessel. If you fail to have these things, you will be in violation of maritime laws, and may be held at least partially liable for a boating accident.