Boating Accidents

Boating accidents might seem rare because the ocean is so large and there are less things to crash into, but they are quite common. You have to consider that boats can not stop or turn on a dime. The poor maneuverability and lack of attention while operating a boat can result in many devastating accidents. Around 4,000 boating accidents per year in the US; those accidents resulted in 626 deaths and 2,613 injuries. With no surprise, most of the 4,000 accidents happen in the summer months, June, July, and August. July has the most accidents with 892 accidents in 2019. But the month with the highest percentage of deaths is November, this is most likely due to poor weather and rough seas.
Some states are obviously going to have more accidents than others, Florida leads the pack with 679 accidents per year. Florida has more than double the amount of accidents than California who has the second most accidents. California has a total of 324 accidents per year. Both Florida and California have the perfect geography and climate to go boating in. Florida has a 1,350 mile coastline with many intercoastal waterways. While California boasts a 840 mile coastline with 3,000 lakes. Both have an amazing climate that allows boating all year round. This is a perfect mix for many boats to get out on the water and for accidents to happen. If you or a family member has been injured in a boating accident, call a personal injury attorney that is capable of dealing with a boating accident. They will help you figure out who is liable for the accident and the correct amount of financial compensation that you deserve.

Causes of Boating Accidents

Many boating accidents can be prevented. There is a misconception that boats are easy to operate because there is way more open space and less things to hit. This causes many people, experienced or inexperienced to become inattentive. Inattention is the highest cause of accidents in the US with 546 accidents in 2019. Operating a boat might seem easy and safe to the average person, but it is not, the maneuverability and the laws with boating are different from a car. This causes a huge problem with many inexperienced boaters getting in accidents. Inexperience is the second highest cause of accidents; inexperience caused 458 accidents in 2019. But neither of these are the highest cause of deaths by a boating accident. Alcohol is the leading cause of deaths even though they only account for 6.7% of accidents in 2019. In a boating accident caused by alcohol there is a 40% chance it will result in death. Most deaths are caused by a collision, capsizing, or someone falling overboard. Boating is dangerous and there are a plethora of ways to get in an accident. Just like a car you need to be attentive even if it may seem safe.

Reporting a Boating Accident

In accordance with California State law the boat owner or operator must report the accident if a person disappears, a death occurs, an injury to a person that requires more than first aid, and damage to property that exceeds $500 or the loss of a vessel. The accidents must be reported within a certain amount of time.

Accidents that are required to be submitted with 48 hours of an accident:

  • Within 24 hours on an accident a death occured
  • Injuries that required more then first aid
  • The disappearance of a person

Accidents that are required to be submitted within 10 days of an accident:

  • More than 24 hours after the accident a death occured
  • Property damage that exceeded $500 or the loss of a vessel

`In California, each operator of the boats in the accident needs to provide their name, address, and boat registration numbers to each other. If you have boat insurance then provide that information to your insurance company to file a claim.

Boating Laws

Like cars, boats have to conform to not just state law but federal law. The laws are pertained to the maintenance and operation of the vessel. Similar to a car, California state law prohibits the operation of a boat in a reckless or negligent manner. Operating a boat recklessly or in a negligent manner includes: boating near or through an area with swimmers, abruptly swerving, cutting speed to avoid an accident, speeding, or operating the boat erratically. California also has a law that prohibits unreasonable speed. This is similar to the autobahn in Germany; you can go as fast as you want with respect to weather conditions, traffic, visibility, or any other hazards that would hinder your speed. California state law also prohibits riding on the bow of the boat, riding on the gunwale(the side of the boat), or any place a passenger could fall off of. It is also prohibited to operate a boat in unsafe conditions that would endanger the passengers, other people on the water. Some of these unsafe conditions can be from the boat, like: not having the proper amount of lifejackets, not having fire extinguishers, not having navigation lights, bad ventilation, too much water in the blige, and fuel leaks.
Federal laws also apply to the boat and operator. The laws require the boat to have Coast Guard approved safety devices. Some of these safety devices include, fire extinguishers, flame arresters, distress signals(this could be a flare gun or a radio), and a sound producing device. Also federal laws require the life jackets to fit each specific type of person on board or have some other type of flotation device.