Award-winning Boating Accident LawyersLast updated on: May 26, 2020
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Boating accidents are common as boating activities can be enjoyed year-round in many parts of the United States. Sadly, these kinds of water-related accidents can turn an enjoyable recreation pastime into a tragic one, resulting in catastrophic injuries that require immediate care.
While many things can cause a boating accident, one of the most contributors is negligent or reckless behavior. Operating a boat while drunk is just as dangerous as driving while drunk. Speeding or operating the boat while distracted are also dangerous behaviors that could result in an accident.
What can you do after you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident? You may need a personal injury lawyer. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation and to find a personal injury attorney near you.
boating accidents are common
Unfortunately, boating accidents are very common in the United States due to boating sites being accessible year-round throughout the country. Boating activities include operating a privately owned boat, riding a personal watercraft such as a jet ski, riding a ferry; basically, riding on any type of boat on any body of water. With access to large ponds, lakes, rivers, and oceans, Americans have plenty of opportunities to find themselves on a boat and should remain vigilant, always aware that boating accidents can happen at any given time to anyone.
The United States Coast Guard reports recreational boating accidents every year and compiles statistics based on the data found. These statistics, drawn from accident reports filed by boat owners and boat operators that are involved in accidents, show that hundreds of people are injured or killed in boating accidents every year.
In 2019, the Coast Guard recorded over 4,000 boating accidents; these accidents resulted in 613 deaths and over 2,500 injuries. Seventy-nine percent of deaths occurred due to drowning; of those drowning victims, 86 percent were not wearing life jackets. Seventy percent of deaths occurred due to the boat operators not receiving proper boating safety instruction.
Alcohol use was a contributing factor in many boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 23 percent of deaths. The majority of accidents and deaths occurred on open motorboats. The top five primary contributing factors in boating accidents are operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol use.
types of boating accidents
Many factors can lead to a boating accident. Whether you are a boat operator or a passenger, boating accidents can cause you serious injuries. The following are the most common types of boating accidents.
Boating Under the Influence
Alcohol is one of the biggest contributing factors to fatal boating accidents. Boating under the influence (BUI) is illegal in every state and includes both the use of drugs and alcohol. The Coast Guard also enforces a federal law that prohibits BUI; this law encompasses any type of boat, from canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and yachts to private motorboats, sailboats, and ships.
Alcohol can affect judgment, balance, and coordination; the majority of deaths that occurred due to alcohol use happened due to victims capsizing their boats or falling overboard and drowning. Indeed, alcohol consumption is more hazardous on water than on land due to the marine environment; the motion of being on water, the boat vibrations, and the sun can all accelerate a person’s impairment while drinking. Falling into the water while impaired can be extremely dangerous, as the person may have difficulty determining up from down.
Operating a boat can be difficult for those who have little to no experience in driving boats, but driving at excessive speeds will make it even harder to control the boat. Intensifying the danger is the fact that a crash at high speeds is more likely to be deadly.
Negligently designed equipment or defective parts could make operating the boat dangerous and lead to an accident. If a defective part was the cause of your boating accident, our boat accident lawyers can help investigate the equipment by speaking with boating experts and identifying all potentially liable parties.
Being ejected off a boat at high speeds or falling overboard can be life-threatening. It may surprise you to know that falling into the water from a high distance or at high speeds can cause broken bones, soft tissue damage, or even death.
Coming into contact with a boat’s propeller can cause lethal lacerations and even amputations of limbs.
Violating Boating Rules
Strict guidelines are set in place by the state in which you are operating the boat as well as by the authority in charge of whatever body of water you are boating in. These laws will govern how the boat should be operated, where it can be operated, and who can operate it. Those who violate these rules and cause injury to you could be liable to you for your injuries.
common boat accidents and injuries
Many different types of boat accidents can occur depending on where the boat is operated. Some of the most common boat accidents include:
- Boat collisions with other boats or fixed objects
- Boat fires
- Boat sinking, tipping, or capsizing
- Contact with propellers
- Falling overboard
- Hitting a wave at a high or excessive speed
- Overcrowding the boat without enough safety devices such as life jackets
- Slip and falls on the boat
Injuries occurring on a watercraft or boat or from falling off a boat can vary, but some of the most common injuries you can recover for include:
- Amputated limbs
- Bone fractures
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Wrongful death
who is liable in a boating accident?
Many boat accidents take place due to recklessness or boat operator inexperience; in such cases, more than one party could be potentially liable for your injuries. An experienced boat accident attorney will be able to help investigate the accident and determine who might be liable to you. These parties may include:
- A passenger on the boat
- The boat rental company
- The manufacturer
- The operator of the boat
- The owner of the boat
Injured victims have the right to pursue financial compensation from any party responsible for causing their injuries. If safety was compromised by failing to provide life jackets, for example, then the boat operator may be held liable; if a passenger acted recklessly and the boat operator failed to intervene, then this may give rise to liability also. If the owner or renter of the boat failed to instruct the boat operator on the proper safety or operation of the boat, then they may be held liable for any injuries.
what legal compensation is available for boating injuries?
Victims of boating accidents have the right to file lawsuits to recover costs associated with personal injury or property damage. Some boating accidents may even involve criminal charges being brought against the boat operators if they operated recklessly or under the influence.
Most personal injury cases will be brought under the legal theory of negligence; for instance, the operator of a boat may be held liable for negligence for a boating accident if they did not follow the boat operation rules or failed to exercise reasonable care. Failing to have the appropriate safety equipment on board, such as life jackets, for example, could be determined as negligent. A judge or a jury will consider all of the facts and determine what is reasonable and whether the boat operator was negligent.
In order to be successful in a claim for damages, the injuries or damages suffered must be directly caused by the boat operator and the boating accident. Collecting evidence such as photographs of the scene, photographs of any injuries or property damage, eyewitness statements, and any boat accident reports or law enforcement reports will be beneficial to your case.
The party or parties liable to you for your injuries will vary case by case. Other factors such as the applicable laws in the state the accident occurred, whether you were an employee, a guest, the boat operator, or an owner, will all factor into the compensation you are able to seek.
boating safety tips
Boats should come equipped with basic safety devices such as life jackets, a working radio in case of emergency, a fire extinguisher, flares, and a working horn. The United States Coast Guard recommends wearing a life jacket at all times one is on a boat; sometimes accidents happen so quickly that a person does not have time to reach for a life jacket. This is significant because life jackets save the lives of over 80 percent of boating accident victims.
The Coast Guard offers courtesy vessel safety checks at no charge to ensure that your personal boat is safe to operate. Simply fill out their form online to have a volunteer examiner sent to your boat for examination.
Federal law requires that the operator or owner of a boat file a boating accident report with their appropriate state if any of the following accidents occur:
- A death occurs
- A person can no longer be found on the boat
- A person is seriously injured
- Serious damage occurs to the boat
- The boat is destroyed
Consider filling out a float plan before any boating venture. Be sure to include facts necessary to rescue you and the names and numbers of personal contacts in the event that an emergency occurs.
Get Help from boating accident lawyers
At Zinda Law Group, our boating accident attorneys are experienced and have handled many cases involving victims of boating accidents. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you determine what to do next and to help recover the best possible outcome for your case.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.