Section 661. (Repealed and added by Stats. 1961, Ch. 2132.)
Cite as: Cal. Harb. & Nav. Code §661.
(a)Every owner of an undocumented vessel numbered under this code is liable and responsible for the death of or injury to person or property resulting from negligence in the operation of such vessel, in the business of the owner or otherwise, by any person using and operating the same with the permission, express or implied, of the owner, and the negligence of such person shall be imputed to the owner for all purposes of civil damage. It shall be presumed that such vessel is being operated with the knowledge and consent of the owner if at the time of the injury, death or damage it is under the control of his or her spouse, father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, or other immediate member of the owner’s family. Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to relieve any person from any liability which he would otherwise have, but nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to authorize or permit any recovery in excess of injury or damage actually incurred.
(b)The liability of an owner for imputed negligence imposed by this section and not arising through the relationship of principal and agent or master and servant is limited to the amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for the death of or injury to one person in any one accident and, subject to the limit as to one person, is limited to the amount of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) for the death of or injury to more than one person in any one accident and is limited to the amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for damage to property of others in any one accident.
(c)In any action against an owner on account of imputed negligence as imposed by this section the operator of the vessel whose negligence is imputed to the owner shall be made a party defendant if personal service of process can be had upon the operator within this State. Upon recovery of judgment, recourse shall first be had against the property of the operator so served.
(d)If there is recovery under this section against an owner based on imputed negligence, the owner is subrogated to all the rights of the person injured or whose property has been injured and may recover from the operator the total amount of any judgment and costs recovered against the owner.
(e)If the bailee of an owner with the permission, expressed or implied, of the owner permits another to operate the vessel of the owner, then the bailee and such operator shall both be deemed operators of the vessel of the owner within the meaning of subdivisions (c) and (d) of this section.
(f)Where two or more persons are injured or killed in one accident, the owner may settle and pay any bona fide claims for damages arising out of personal injuries or death, whether reduced to judgment or not, and the payments shall diminish to the extent thereof the owner’s total liability on account of the accident. Payments aggregating the full sum of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) shall extinguish all liability of the owner for death or personal injury arising out of the accident which exists by reason of imputed negligence, pursuant to this section, and did not arise through the negligence of the owner nor through the relationship of principal and agent or master and servant.
(g)If a vessel is sold under a contract of conditional sale whereby the title to such vessel remains in the vendor, such vendor or his assignee shall not be deemed an owner within the provisions of this section relating to imputed negligence, but the vendee or his assignee shall be deemed the owner notwithstanding the terms of such contract, until the vendor or his assignee retakes possession of the vessel. A chattel mortgagee of a vessel out of possession is not an owner within the provisions of this section relating to imputed negligence.
(h)No action based on imputed negligence under this section shall abate by reason of the death of any injured person or of any person liable or responsible under the provisions of this section. In any action for physical injury based on imputed negligence under this section by the executor, administrator, or personal representative of any deceased person, the damages recoverable shall be the same as those recoverable under Section 956 of the Civil Code.