Boating Accidents Personal Injury LawyerSimilar to vehicle or trucking accidents, a person on a boat can be seriously injured in a boating accident. A boating accident differs greatly from a vehicle accident in the following ways:

  • Boats have no brakes that boat operators can “slam on” to avoid an accident. 
  • Boats have no airbags, seatbelts or other precautionary devices associated with certain vehicles. 
  • Many passengers on boats are standing.

Due to the speed boats travel, passengers riding in boats are at high risk of sustaining serious spinal cord injuries that could potentially result in paralysis. Additionally, a severe blow to the head caused by a boating accident could cause a brain injury. Serious injuries could elicit fatal results if a passenger falls overboard. Not surprisingly, the number one cause of death in boating accidents is in fact drowning which sadly occurs when a passenger is knocked unconscious and then falls into the water. 

The following are the primary contributing factors of accidents and casualties in boating accidents:

  • Alcohol use
  • Drug use
  • Excessive speed
  • Failure to vent
  • Improper lookout
  • Inadequate onboard navigation lights
  • Navigation rules violation
  • Operator Inattention
  • Restricted vision
  • Sharp turn
  • Improper anchoring
  • Overloading
  • Equipment failure
  • Hull failure
  • Machinery failure

Commercial Boating Accidents

Commercial boating accidents tend to be the most serious type of boating accident because they normally involve many passengers. For example, cruise ships, commuter ferries, tour boats, etc. are all types of commercial boats.

Commercial boating accidents resulting from owner/operator negligence are often cause for legal action. Negligence from these owners/operators are usually from speeding, driving under the influence, driving habits or reckless driving. More importantly, owners of commercial boats are required to perform routine maintenance checks to ensure that the vessel and its parts are functioning correctly. Commercial boats like commercial trucks are very large and if routine maintenance is not properly performed these large boats can be extremely dangerous. Failure to do so could result in a serious boating accident-causing personal injury and/or wrongful death to passengers of all boats involved including but not limited to kayakers, paddle boarders or individuals on a deck. Also, commercial boat owners are liable for accidents caused by the negligent behavior on their part or by their agents and employees.

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Boating Accident Statistics

The following boating accident statistics are derived from studies conducted by the United States Coast Guard in 2019:

Of the 11,878,542 registered boats in operation in the United States in 2019, there were 4,168 reported accidents. There were approximately 613 deaths caused as a result of these boating accidents and more than $55 Million in property damage. The following are additional statistics from the United States Coast Guard for 2019:

  • The fatality rate was 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. This rate represents a 1.9% decrease from the 2018 fatality rate of 5.3 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
  • Compared to 2018, the number of accidents increased 0.6%, the number of deaths decreased 3.2%, and the number of injuries increased 1.9%.
  • Where cause of death was known, 79% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 86% were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Where length was known, eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.
  • Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 23% of deaths.
  • Where instruction was known, 70% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction. Only 20% percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally-approved boating safety education certificate.
  • There were 171 accidents in which at least one person was struck by a propeller. Collectively, these accidents resulted in 35 deaths and 155 injuries.
  • Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol use rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
  • Where data was known, the most common vessel types involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (45%), personal watercraft (19%), and cabin motorboats (16%).
  • Where data was known, the vessel types with the highest percentage of deaths were open motorboats (48%), kayaks (14%), and personal watercraft (8%).
  • The 11,878,542 recreational vessels registered by the states in 2019 represent a 0.22% increase from last year when 11,852,969 recreational vessels were registered.

The most common type of boating accident is a collision with another vessel or object of some kind. These collisions often result in one or more vessels capsizing or passenger(s) falling overboard. Of all boating accidents resulting in death, capsizing and overboard falls account for more than half (~57%) of all boating fatalities.

More than 79% of all deaths caused by boating accidents are judged to be the result of drowning. Passengers are often knocked unconscious prior to falling overboard, preventing them from staying afloat and being rescued. Although personal flotation devices are designed to protect against such a circumstance, statistics have shown that 90% of all drowning victims were not wearing a PFD.

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We’ll provide a free investigation into the details of your case and the options you may have available.

Reporting A Boating Accident

There are certain circumstances that require the reporting of a boating accident:

  • If a person dies as a result of the accident.
  • If a person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond basic first aid.
  • If there is damage to vessels and property exceeding $2,000.
  • If there is complete loss of a vessel.
  • If a person disappears from the vessel
  • A boating accident report must be filed within 48 hours of occurrence given any of the following circumstances:
  • If a person dies within 24 hours of accident occurrence.
  • If a person requires medical treatment beyond that of basic first aid.
  • If a person disappears from the vessel without trace.
  • Boating Accident Lawsuits

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of a boating accident, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your pain and suffering. The Palm Beach Gardens, Juno Beach and Jupiter personal injury attorneys of The Ledezma Law Firm handle national litigation across the United States. Learn more about boating accident victims’ rights and to discuss the possibility of filing a boating accident lawsuit by contacting the boat accident lawyers at the Ledezma Law Firm today at (561) 454-9727.

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