It’s getting hot outside, and everyone is ready to be out on the water! If you have a boat or other water toys, you’re surely one of the first to test out the water this summer. Enjoying your family and friends is what it’s all about, but when summer boating accidents happen, the fun can quickly be ruined. And the legal aspects can be challenging.
The fallout from summer boating accidents can be hefty when it comes to medical treatments, costs to fix damaged equipment, and more. It all adds up quickly! Do you know what kind of legal considerations you should have before getting out on the boat or heading out for some fun in the sun? You might want to think twice about how you handle that boat this summer!
Summer Boating Accidents – How Do They Occur?
In 2022 the Coast Guard reported over 4,000 recreational boating accidents with 636 deaths. In most cases, these accidents and deaths are preventable. You might think that you are pretty safe when you go boating, but there are reasons these accidents keep occurring. Some of the top causes of boating accidents continue to include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Acting recklessly
- Bad weather that affects the water conditions
- Boat breaking down
- Failure to maintain the boat and safety equipment
As you may have guessed, boating accidents don’t just cause injuries and fatalities but millions of dollars of damage to property too.
Preventing Summer Boating Accidents
As we talked about earlier, many boating accidents are preventable. A few things you should be aware of and pay attention to this boating season include:
- Wear a life jacket – By always wearing safety equipment that can help keep yourself and loved ones safe, you can absolutely reduce the chance of fatalities from occurring, reducing the risk of drowning so that you can enjoy the water for years to come. Nothing is worse than losing someone you love in a drowning.
- Take boater classes – Educate yourself on how to prevent boat accidents from occurring. This can include lessons on driving as well as watching out for other boaters and those in the water skiing or on tubes. Just think if everyone took these kinds of safety courses before getting out on the lake, it would be a much safer place.
- You are responsible for what happens on your boat – If you rent out your boat or let a friend borrow it, it’s important to remember that you could be held liable for any accidents that occur. It may make you think twice about letting others use your boat when you’re not around.
- Keep an eye on the weather – The weather can change quickly and if you’re out on the water, it can become very dangerous. Driving the boat becomes much more difficult and seeing where you’re going can become challenging. Don’t forget other boaters could have much less experience in driving and may panic and cause additional problems. It’s best to always pay attention to the weather, and if it looks like a storm may be coming your way, get out of the water. It’s just not worth the risk!
- Don’t assume others see you – Whether you’re the driver of a boat or a tuber being pulled behind, you should never just assume that other boats or jet skiers see you. Stay vigilant, always making eye contact before you make any sudden turns or moves.
- Always boat sober – Don’t take the risk of making a mistake as you drive the boat under the influence. As you know, your reaction time just isn’t near as good, and your decision-making skills are less than desirable when you’ve been drinking.
- Keep your boat maintained – Always keep safety equipment up-to-date and in working order as well as your boat running correctly. You don’t want to find yourself caught in the middle of the ocean or lake without a way to get to shore.
Types of Boating Accidents
There are a few common circumstances that boating accidents occur, including when:
- A boat hits the wake of another boat or an object in the water such as a rock or the shoreline. These kinds of cases can be tricky and depend on many factors. The driver is usually responsible for looking out for hazards in the water, including rough wakes that could capsize the boat or injure riders.
If the driver was speeding in a small boat that wouldn’t be able to handle a large wake. For example, an injured rider could seek compensation. If a driver was creating a wake in a no-wake zone and other boaters were injured because of it, that other driver could be held responsible.
- A boat hits another boat or watercraft like a jet ski, etc. When there is a collision like this, just like a car accident, you must show negligence or fault. State laws, as well as maritime law, come into play here. An injured rider can seek compensation from the at-fault driver. In some states, if one driver is partially at fault, they cannot receive compensation.
Boating accidents can obviously become complicated, and many factors go into what kind of compensation certain people can seek. Involving an experienced attorney that can work with you and guide you through the legal loopholes quickly becomes a necessity. Don’t wait to seek legal counsel in these types of cases!
Involved in Summer Boating Accidents?
Unfortunately, accidents happen, even during all the fun. If you have been involved in summer boating accidents as a driver or injured rider, you need legal support. Like any other type of accident, damages in a boating accident can be immense, and you need assistance from the experts to keep you safe legally and financially.
Gainsburgh, Benjamin, David, Meunier & Warshauer, L.L.C. have represented dozens of clients involved in summer boating accidents. We know the best way to seek compensation for monetary and non-monetary damages including medical bills, property damage, emotional therapy, pain and suffering, and lost income. Don’t hesitate to call our legal team at (504) 522-2304 to learn more about how we can help.