A recent U.S. Coast Guard report provides that 4,904 recreational boating accidents occur annually resulting in 676 fatalities, 3,363 injuries, and $35,038,306 of property damage.
Whether on a luxury cruise, fishing trip, diving expedition, or just water skiing, boating has become an increasingly dangerous and injurious activity.
Types and Causes of Boating Accidents
Although collisions are the most reported type of accident, and capsizing and falling overboard account for over half of all fatalities, boating accidents also include sinking/flooding, explosions, disappearance and fire.
Boating accidents are caused by carelessness or reckless operation, operator inattention or inexperience, excessive speed, and operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol.
Boating accidents also result from poorly designed boats including failure of the boat's machinery or hull.
Boating Accidents Reports
A boating accident report must be filed when a life is lost, an injury occurs requiring medical attention beyond first aid, damage is caused by or to the vessel and other property, or any person disappears under circumstances indicating death or injury.
Boating accident reports must be filed within 48 hours if a person dies or requires treatment beyond first aid and 10 days if there is only damage to the boat and/or other property.
Laws Governing Boat Accidents
Boating accidents are governed by local, county and state criminal and civil laws requiring operating a watercraft in a safe, non-negligent manner.
Boat owners must also must be careful about allowing others to operate their vessel because, regardless of the operator, “accident causing” boat owners may be liable for damages.
Failure to remain on the scene, provide aid or timely report accident to the applicable authorities is also a crime.
Steps to Take if Injured in a Boating Accident
If injured in a boat accident, you have the right to be compensated for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any permanent injury.
To protect your rights after a boating accident injury:
○seek medical treatment as soon as is possible;
○obtain all accident information your including names and contact information of all parties and witnesses, insurance information and reports;
○Talk to no one about your accident other than law enforcement officials. Anything you say to an insurance company may make it harder to settle your claim.
○Sign nothing, especially a release form, without talking to an attorney first.