Honolulu Boating Accident Lawyer

Honolulu Boating Accident Lawyers with Expertise in Maritime Cases

Boating Accident Attorney HonoluluExperiencing a maritime or boating accident can be incredibly frightening. When you’re out on open water without adequate safety measures, the danger of drowning is a serious concern. At Shim & Chang, our Honolulu boating accident lawyer has successfully assisted numerous victims and their families in securing compensation from boat operators, equipment manufacturers, and charter companies. Our mission is always to ensure our clients receive the maximum recovery possible.


With over 30 years of experience as a Honolulu personal injury attorney, Shim & Chang has deep expertise in handling water sports, boating, and maritime cases. Sadly, boating accidents are quite common in Hawaii, due to the high number of people engaging in activities like fishing, skiing, parasailing, or just sightseeing on the water. We have handled a wide range of water-related injury cases, from wrongful deaths to fishing accidents. Here are a few examples:

  • We represented the family of a young girl from Japan who tragically died in a parasailing accident due to inadequate safety devices on the parasail chair.
  • One of our clients, a passenger on a commercial boat, was injured when the boat operator sped through oncoming waves too quickly.
  • We represented a crew member of a racing sailboat who was injured during a sudden jibe maneuver caused by an emergency.
  • Our client, a visitor from the mainland USA, was on a fishing charter when his forearm was pierced by a trailing fishhook. The first mate had lifted a mahi-mahi from the water and negligently threw it in our client’s direction.

At Shim & Chang, our Honolulu boating accident lawyer is a creative problem solver. When the most straightforward path to recovery isn’t available for our client, we dig deeper to find alternative sources of compensation. For boating accidents and maritime law cases, we consult with investigators and experts to ensure our approach is thorough and precise.


You may be surprised to know that the boat or ship you own or work on could be a ticking time bomb. Marine fires and explosions happen every year, resulting in deaths, serious injuries, and extensive property damage.

Most marine vessels operate on gasoline or diesel fuels. These fuels also emit vapors which are highly flammable if they were to come in contact with a heat source, spark, or flame. Wind and air currents can carry these invisible vapors to various parts of the boat away from the engine room. If these vapors were to come in contact with a heat source, spark, or flame, a fire and/or explosion could occur.


Items on board such as stoves, hot plates, clothes dryers and even refrigerators make life on the ocean easier and more convenient, but they can also be a safety hazard and an ignition source and start a fire.

Ship maintenance activities such as welding or grinding, can also generate a spark powerful enough to ignite the invisible fuel vapors if not done with proper safeguards. One of our clients was a crew member on board a fishing boat who was seriously burned because the owner of the boat didn’t follow proper welding safety procedures while the ship’s engine room was being worked on.

There are many appliances on board that can start a fire. One in particular is the boat’s water heater. Did you know that the ship’s water heater is required by the US Coast Guard to have an “ignition protected” thermostat? What’s important about that?

Flammable vapors from the ship’s fuel can be carried into the water heater by air drafts and can be ignited by the heater’s thermostat. In order to prevent a resulting fire and explosion, the Coast Guard requires that all marine water heater thermostats be made “air tight” to prevent the infiltration of flammable vapors. Not all manufacturers install “air tight” thermostats.
Although it happened on land and not on the ocean, we represented a family who lost two family members and their home because of a residential water heater explosion and fire. Our clients had purchased an electric water heater and had it installed in their garage. As there were no warnings advising them not to, a propane tank for a BBQ grill was stored in the same vicinity.

Our clients were also unaware that every time the water heater’s thermostat turned “on” or “off,” a powerful electric arc is generated. The water heater’s thermostat was not air tight so as to prevent flammable vapor incidents.

In this case, the propane tank leaked. Air currents carried the propane vapors into the water heater at the same time the thermostat turned off. The spark from the heater’s thermostat ignited the propane gas, resulting in a massive explosion which killed several people and destroyed a home in a matter of minutes. It was our knowledge of this explosion risk and the heater’s defective design that led to the eventual resolution of their claim.

Talk to an Experienced Honolulu Boating Accident Lawyer Today

If you, or someone you know, is injured or killed on board a boat or marine vessel because of a defective appliance or because of a dangerous activity (such as using a welding torch without proper safeguards), let our knowledge and experience help obtain the necessary compensation for the injured person and their family, and at the same time, hold the negligent party accountable so that it doesn’t happen again to someone else.

We know that a boating accident can be a traumatic experience, especially when you’re far from home. At Shim & Chang, we are dedicated to helping injury victims in Hawaii and visitors to our islands. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a maritime or boating accident, please contact us in Honolulu to schedule a free consultation. Together, we can make Hawaii safer for everyone.