Recreational Boating Accidents
Recreational Boating Accident Lawyers in Lake Charles
According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2017 boating accident statistics, recreational boating accidents were responsible for 4,291 accidents, 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries and $46 million in property damages. These numbers were down from 2016—a decrease of 3.9 percent for recreational boating accidents and a 6.8 percent decrease in recreational boating accident fatalities. When the cause of death was known, drowning was the cause of death 76 percent of the time from a recreational boating accident. Eight out of every ten of those who drowned in a recreational boating accident were on a vessel which was 21 feet or less.
Alcohol is one of the primary contributing factors in fatal boating accidents, being responsible for 19 percent of recreational boating accident deaths. For the most part (81 percent), fatal recreational boating accidents occurred on boats where the operator had received no boating safety instruction. Other causes of recreational boating accidents include operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, machinery failure, alcohol use, and excessive speed. Other than drowning, recreational boating accident deaths are caused by trauma, cardiac arrest, hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning, and propellers.
The nickname for the abundant waterways in the state of Louisiana is Sportsman’s Paradise. Residents and visitors alike enjoy the outdoor water sports in the state, including canoeing, water skiing, jet skiing, and boating. Accidents can happen, whether due to human error, nature or the negligence of another person. A number of fatal boating accidents in the state serve as a reminder of the potential perils associated with recreational boating.
When and Why Boating Accidents Occur
The majority of boating accidents happen at the end of the day when perhaps everyone is tired from a day of playing or drivers and passengers may have been drinking which can lead to poor judgment. Boats may capsize from being overloaded or from inclement weather. It’s important for those who spend time on boats to remember that should a boat capsize it will likely float upside down. To facilitate the rescue, all passengers should stay as close to the boat as possible. Often, people decide to swim for shore, become exhausted and drown rather than remaining with the boat.
The second most common cause of boating fatalities occurs when someone falls overboard. Falling overboard can happen when passengers are standing up and moving about as the boat makes a turn, sitting on the sideboards, or simply engaging in horseplay. The stability of a boat is significantly affected by the number of people on the boat as well as how their weight is positioned on the boat. When several people shift to one side at the same time, the stability can suffer an upset, particularly in boats that are less than sixteen feet long.
Unfortunately, a relatively large number of boating accidents involve alcohol. The boating operator may be out having fun with friends or family members and while he or she might never get behind the wheel of a car after having a few beers, that same person thinks nothing of driving a boat while impaired. Alcohol may be responsible for as many as a quarter of all boating fatalities—if your boat operator is drinking, stay on shore!
Making Boating Safer
All children and adults on a boat, at any time it is in the water, should wear a properly fitted life vest. It is surprising how many parents who would be horrified at the thought of putting their children in a car with no car seat or seat belt will not think twice about allowing those same children to get into a boat with absolutely no flotation devices. Boat operators should enroll in a boat safety training course and passengers should refuse to ride with those who forego the necessary training.
Maritime Laws Apply to Boating Accidents
Many people are unaware that the boat operator must file an accident report in the event a boating accident occurs, particularly if injuries or death resulted from the accident, if someone is missing as a result of the accident, if there is a complete loss of the boat, or the damage to the boat is valued at more than $2,000. Maritime law applies to pleasure boating accidents even though many believes it is only applicable to containerships, tugboats, tankers and other commercial vessels.
A small sailboat can actually be subject to the same maritime laws as an ocean oil tanker and federal courts have even gone so far as to qualify a jet-ski accident as subject to maritime law. For these reasons, if you have been involved in a boating accident it is extremely important that your chosen Louisiana recreational boating accident attorney have experience in maritime and boating laws with a clear understanding of how those elements could potentially affect your rights.
What to Do Following a Boating Accident
First and foremost, if a boating accident occurs, you must stay in the area until law enforcement arrives. If you are uninjured, check to see if others were hurt. If no one suffered injuries from the boating accident you can exchange insurance and personal contact information. All boating accidents must be reported to the local authorities. Injured parties should seek medical attention, even if they believe their injuries are not serious at the time. Often injuries can exacerbate in the following days, turning into a much more serious accident than first believed. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries requires the following after a boating accident:
- The operator of the boat must stop immediately;
- The operator must render assistance to injured persons;
- The operator must attempt to minimize danger caused by the incident;
- The operator must give his or her contact information, along with insurance information in writing to anyone injured in the accident and the owner of any damaged property, and
- The operator must notify the LDWF Law Enforcement Division, the nearest law enforcement agency or the state police, via the quickest means of communication.
How a Hoffoss Devall Boating Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you suffered injury from a recreational boating accident, you may have medical expenses you are unable to pay and may be unable to return to work because of your injuries—for a short period of time or for a lengthier time. Boating accidents can result in broken bones, head and brain trauma, paralysis from spinal cord injuries and skin damages. Recovery from severe injuries related to a boating accident is usually lengthy and expensive. In some cases, wrongful death results from a boating accident.
You may be eligible to receive compensation for emotional pain and suffering in addition to lost wages and medical expenses. You deserve to have an experienced boating accident attorney on your side who will fight aggressively on your behalf, protecting your interests and safeguarding your future. The Hoffoss Devall attorneys will do just that. We will fight for your rights, as well as for your future. Contact Hoffoss Devall today, either online or by calling (337) 433-2053.