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$21.7 million jury verdict for California boat accident

Craig McClellan

A Los Angeles jury has awarded a woman $21.7 million for injuries she sustained in a personal watercraft accident. Drivers of the personal watercraft and boat involved in the accident, who were allegedly drinking and speeding down the Colorado River, will pay half of the award, while Polaris, the watercraft's manufacturer, will pay the rest.

The woman, who was 15 at the time of the accident, suffered permanent brain damage when the watercrafts collided. She claimed that the watercraft accident was caused by multiple factors, including a defect in the watercraft that made the vehicle impossible to control. Polaris, she maintained, knew about the defect but did not issue a recall of the personal watercraft. Polaris points fingers back at the drivers of the personal watercraft and boat.

Personal watercraft accidents, or water scooter accidents, are common and tend to cause more serious injuries than other boat accidents. In fact, jet skis have been compared to motorcycles by safety advocates. While most watercraft accidents are caused by driver error, this California watercraft defect lawsuit was the not the first of its kind. Many jet skis have too much power, causing them to travel out-of-control and injure riders. Others have caused accidents when they did not stop automatically. Still others have caused injury because of defective jet propulsion systems.

When a personal watercraft defect causes injury, the manufacturer can and should be held accountable. Product liability lawsuits are one way to hold manufacturers of defective watercraft liable while helping victims find answers.

Source: CBS Local, " Woman awarded $21.7M in watercraft accident that caused permanent brain damage at 15," July 25, 2013