Every year in the US, approximately 3400 injuries, 700 deaths, and 40 million dollars in property damage occur because of recreational boating accidents. The vast majority of the deaths are attributable to drowning and not wearing a life vest. Something else to consider is that 13% of the registered watercrafts in this country are in the personal watercraft (PWC) category (this includes jet skis, jet boats, and sea doos). PWCs are involved in 25% of accidents on the water. Boating has considerable less regulation than operating an automobile. At least with cars, a person has to be a certain age, and display a reasonable amount of competence as an operator to get licensed. With boats, competence and experience are not prerequisites for operators. Couple this with the unfortunate decision of many people to drink while operating boats (this IS illegal). Just as with automobiles, alcohol or drugs impair one’s ability to make good decisions and increase reaction time delays. The top reasons why most boating accidents happen all involve operator errors. These include alcohol use, operator inattention, lack of experience by the operator, and excessive speed.
Other types of operator errors can be:
- Not knowing the rules of the water
- Not giving proper warnings when proceeding in congested or foggy areas
- Ignoring seating capacity (adversely affecting craft buoyancy)
- Not having enough floatation devices for everyone aboard.
- Not requiring people to wear life vests
Additionally, accidents can happen due to manufacturing defects of the watercraft. Examples of this could be faulty battery wiring (fire hazard), engine failure, faulty wiring of alarms that warn of bilge water levels, or carbon monoxide. Design defects can also result in accidents. Suppliers of boat equipment can be at fault in accidents. Negligence by someone responsible for maintenance can also be the cause of boating accidents.
Under federal regulations, the operator of any recreational vessel must report a boating accident to the US Coast Guard under four circumstances:
- A person dies
- A person is injured and requires medical attention beyond first aid
- Damage to the vessel is $2,000 or more
- There is a complete loss of the vessel
- A person disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury.
If you a loved one have been involved in a boating accident that resulted in injury, death, or the loss of property, you may be eligible for damages. Contact the Sweeney Law Firm and let us review the facts to determine if you have a boating accident case due to operator error, manufacturing defect, or another circumstance. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t get paid unless there is a settlement or recovery of funds for you.