How Do Recreational Boating Accidents Typically Occur?
Recreational boating accidents occur fairly often in the state of Louisiana; after all, with more than 7,500 miles of coastline and many well-known waterways, Louisiana residents take every opportunity to spend time on the water. Boats are used for fishing, viewing wildlife and recreational activities (tubing, sightseeing, sailing, sunbathing, water skiing), however, there are instances when boating can be dangerous as well. It goes without saying that boating accidents will be more common in states with lots of lakes and rivers, or those which border the ocean, however, most boating accidents could be prevented, and most boating accident deaths could have been prevented by insisting on life vests for all those aboard.
Are boating accidents and injuries common?
The United States Coast Guard estimates there were 4,145 boating accidents in 2018; of those, there were 633 deaths and 2,511 serious injuries. Injuries can include minor neck and back injuries, cuts and bruises, or more serious spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury. A head injury may seem relatively harmless at the time but can lead to serious health issues down the line, and neck injuries, such as whiplash, are notorious for causing long-lasting damage. Drowning is the primary cause of death following a boating accident, with 77 percent of fatal boating accident victims dying from drowning. Of the drowning victims, 84 percent were not wearing a life vest.
What are the causes of boating accidents?
Just as we hope a driver on the road has proper training, understands the rules of the road, and adheres to safety precautions, we hope the driver of a boat has these things as well. According to uscgboating.org, 74 percent of deaths occur on boats where the operator received no safety instructions, and only about 18 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally approved boating safety education certificate. Additional causes of boating accidents include operator inattention, careless or reckless operation, excessive speed, alcohol use, machinery failure, weather, and equipment failure.
Are boating accidents caused by alcohol use common?
Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents—listed as the primary factor in almost 20 percent of boating deaths. Drinking while boating is a dangerous mix, and if that mix results in injuries, those injured will benefit from a legal advocate. Drunk driving accidents, whether automobile or boat, are clearly the result of negligent behavior. The impaired person who caused the boating accident must be held accountable; a skilled boating accident attorney can be your biggest advocate following such an accident.
How do other factors result in boating accidents?
Severe weather, such as strong winds or heavy rains can cause boating accidents, especially when you have an inexperienced driver at the helm. When an inexperienced boat driver encounters unfamiliar conditions, tragic consequences can result. Although the boating laws vary from state to state, an accident report should always be filed following the boating accident, even if it was relatively minor. Boating accidents could largely be prevented with proper training and safety instruction, as well as a crackdown on drinking and boating. Because boating is definitely a recreational activity, many people fail to understand the importance of the driver of the boat being trained and experienced, being sober, and being able to handle any type of unexpected situation. Boat drivers need to take the responsibility seriously, making sure all passengers are wearing life jackets, and taking the time to obtain instruction on the proper way to operate a boat.
How can recreational boaters increase safety levels and avoid accidents?
- Ensure the boat you are going out on is seaworthy, the operator is properly trained, and there are sufficient safety devices on board.
- Most people who can swim don’t feel they need a life jacket, however, extremely cold water temperatures, distance from the shoreline, and a host of other factors can make swimming much more difficult than you might imagine should an accident occur.
- Watch the weather before you sail away from the shore. If there are storms in the forecast, make sure you will not be out on the water when those storms roll in.
- Know how many people your boat can safely hold, and don’t go beyond that limit.
- Just like you shouldn’t drink and drive, you should also avoid drinking alcohol while boating as it impairs your ability to think and act quickly.
- Operate the boat at a safe speed.
- Have one person be the passenger lookout in addition to the operator of the boat.
- Enroll the entire family in a boater safety course.
- Always maintain a 50-foot minimum distance from other vessels, persons, shore, personal watercraft, and stationary platforms.
How an Attorney from Hoffoss Devall Can Help Following a Boating Accident
An attorney from Hoffoss Devall, with extensive experience in boating accident claims, will work hard to ensure your family’s economic security, seek reimbursement for your losses and make sure justice is fully served by pursuing damages on your behalf. Contact Hoffoss Devall today!