Everything you should know about a boat accident claim

by | Jun 7, 2021 | Personal Injury, Watercraft Accidents | 0 comments

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Going on boating in the summer would be greatly delightful. Either for recreation or sports, boating can revive the exhausted bodies and minds of all. However, the danger behind the fun should not be overlooked.

Boating accident statistics in the US reveals that in 2019, more than 600 people died and around 2600 people were injured. When compared from 2002 to 2019, the decrease in the number of people injured and died brings a sort of relief to all. People, planning to enjoy fishing and water skiing, end up losing their lives is unnerving. The inattention of the operators causes most of these accidents. Open motorboats account for the highest number of deaths and injuries.

Types of boats

There are distinctive varieties of boats for fishing and recreational purpose in the US. Let us see some of them here.

  • Deck boats are used for swimming and water sports
  • Runabouts or bowriders can be used for day-long outings for families as they can accommodate 6-8 people. It also allows few people to ride on the bow part.
  • Towboats are used to tow skiers and wakeboarders and they provide good aerial maneuvers for the skiers.
  • Sailboats will have engines and sails. Sailors prefer to use their sailing skills with the wind on sails. These kinds of boats are only for the experienced.
  • Cabin cruisers will have a cabin as the name suggest and one can feel the comforts of home with facilities.
  • Pontoon boats accommodate more than 10-15 people and suitable for small groups to enjoy skiing.
  • Fishing boats are specially designed for fishing purposes with fishing platforms, rod lockers, etc. They are strong and durable.
  • Dinghies or inflatable boats come with mother boats and these can be used when the mother boat cannot be used in shallow waters. They are suitable for shallow fishing areas.
  • Personal watercraft boats are otherwise known as water scooters or jet skiers. These are for the adventurers.
  • Duck boat is the colloquial term for DUKW boat. This is a military amphibian boat that can also be used inland. This is now a day used as a recreational boat. However, this kind of boat is vulnerable to rough weather.

Boat accidents

Water bodies

Boating accidents occurring in the following water bodies such as lakes and ponds, rivers, creeks, inlets, canals, swamps, harbor and shore, bays, and gulfs are common in the US. Going deep into the sea without experience is very dangerous.

Common causes of boat crashes

The common causes of major boat accidents are as follows:

  • Inexperienced operators: Boaters lacking experience cannot maneuver the boats efficiently without hitting against other boats or objects on the way. More number of accidents is caused by inexperienced operators. Trainees must not steer the boats without the assistance of the trainer.
  • Intoxicated operators or passengers: Intoxicated operators are as dangerous as intoxicated motorists on the road. They can’t look out for the possible dangers in the waterways. Drunken passengers won’t cooperate with the boat operators and cause everyone’s life in danger.
  • Neglecting navigation rules: Ignorance of the navigation rules or neglecting them also causes a serious boat crash.
  • Inadequate safety gear of proper sizes: Despite having safety gear, casualties occur when kids are given adult-size life jackets. Having less protective gear adds to the gravity of the fatality.
  • Falling overboard: Enthusiastic passengers may fall overboard when they forget about their surroundings.
  • Grounding: In shallow waterbeds, grounding cannot be avoided. Going close to the banks also can make your boat run aground. When the boat was caught between rocks, arrogant pushing to release the boat may result in leakage. If you try to drive forward with force, the boat may capsize.
  • Sinking: Leakage, improper balancing of the cargo or passengers, collision with other boats, or hazards make the boats capsizes and sinks.
  • Breakdowns: Like all vehicles, proper maintenance is a must for boats. Bad maintenance poses a great threat to the passengers. Product defects also become a reason for boat accidents.
  • Ignoring weather forecast: Ignoring the weather forecast may cost you even your dear lives. Steering the boat in adverse climate conditions leads to accidents and makes the rescue even tougher. A duck boat accident in 2018 became one of the saddest accidents in the US, killing 17 people.
  • Failing to look out: When boat operators fail to look out for other boats or objects on the way possibly leads to boat crashes.
  • Fire: Boats may catch fire due to fuel leakage, electrical short circuit, defective batteries, improper maintenance, etc. most boats are made of fiberglass. While burning it produces toxic smoke and extremely high temperature. Boats with bunkers or cabins are more dangerous for people as they can’t escape once the fire or smoke engulfs the cabin.
  • Over-speed: Overspeeding the boats causes waves that would be dangerous to other boats. The operator would not get enough reaction time in case of collision. Passengers could be thrown overboard while overspeeding. Need extensive distances while stopping the boat.
  • Jet-skiing: Due to affordability and low cost for maintenance, water scooters have become famous among people. Jet skiing is one of the most common factors in causing serious boating accidents due to its speed. The wake or wave created by the jet skiers may become dangerous for other boats. Speeding in your PWC in congested areas could cause accidents.

Boat accident injuries

  • Traumatic brain injuries: During boat crashes when people happen to fall underwater, they will be deprived of oxygen. When oxygen is deprived for a few minutes, the brain cell starts dying. This ends up in serious brain damages which cannot be repaired.
  • Spinal cord injuries: When the boat is hit with strong waves, passengers can get disc compressions which lead to spinal cord problems.
  • Amputations: When people fall overboard, they may be caught between the fast-moving propellers. This may result in serious lacerations, amputations, or even death. Permanent disability and disfigurement could also result.
  • Broken bones: During collisions, passengers can hit against the boat’s walls or railings that would result in broken bones or fractures.
  • Burns: During boat fires or explosions, people may be burnt to death. Severe burn injuries and disfigurement could not be avoided in such cases.

How to prevent the boating accident?

Boat owners and boat operators should be cautious and prudent enough to face any kind of adverse situations that may arise during the ride. Before setting out on a boat ride remember the following:

  • Have pre-knowledge about boat safety.
  • Check the boat thoroughly beforehand the ride.
  • Have enough safety gear of various sizes in the boat.
  • Be sober. Having a clear and stable mind will help you react quickly in necessary situations.
  • Listen to the weather forecast.
  • Have a fire extinguisher.
  • Have visual distress signals like orange flags, flashlights, etc.
  • Working radio to make calls in case of distress.
  • Have horns, whistles, or bells.
  • Make sure you know swimming
  • Have a thorough knowledge of the hazards in the waterways you use.

Boating accident laws

There are different laws and regulations regarding boating accidents such as Federal law, State law, and Maritime laws. Based on the type of boat and type of waterway different laws are applicable. Boaters using the local water bodies should know about the State and Federal laws for boating. Those who venture deep into the sea should know about the maritime laws.

Federal law insists the boat owners and operators report boat crashes within 48 hours if the following occurs:

  • Death or disappearance of one or more people
  • One or more injured and needed medical treatment
  • Damage to the property
  • Destroyed vessel.

Other boat accidents should be reported in 30 days to the Park and Wildlife Department.

How can a boat accident lawyer help you?

Filing a boating accident lawsuit has many complications as federal, state and maritime laws have their own rules and regulations. Understanding the nuances of all these laws needs special experience. Only a boating accident lawyer could help you get your claims. Getting the assistance of an experienced lawyer will help you retrieve all the possible evidence early.

Your boating accident attorney can interview the witnesses and other people to understand the real cause of the accident, and get reports from the authorities for review and also talk to the insurance companies to negotiate the claims.

Importance of evidence

The following evidence could help you in your claims:

  • Photos of the scene of the accident
  • Statements of the witnesses
  • Police reports
  • Phone or call statements if the operator was found distracted while using the phone
  • Your own ER and medical reports of the injuries

Significance of medical record review in boat accident lawsuit

Medical records and bills of a victim play a vital role in helping the boat accident lawyers assess the case in favor of the victim. They are the basis for personal injury or boat accident claims. Collecting all possible medical records is not that easy. Reviewing all those medical records is a tedious part of the process of winning litigation.

Law firms will either have experts to review the records or outsource them to expert medical record review companies to analyze the records to find and sort the relevant medical records for winning your boat accident lawsuit. You may not remember to present all the records in your agony and pain. But they will point out the missing medical records that may help you in your claims.

Final thoughts

While enjoying your boating, be cautious of the dangers in it. If involved in a boat accident, be aware of your rights and duties to protect yourself and your dear ones. Getting medical treatment should be your priority. Choose an experienced boat accident lawyer to proceed with your complicated litigations. He would work with the record review companies to acquire victory in your complex lawsuit, while you recuperate from your injuries.


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