Boating Accident ATTORNEYS
In a report released in May 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division recorded 4,291 recreational boating accidents in 2017. These accidents resulted in 2,629 injuries, 658 deaths, and $46 million dollars in property damage. In 81% of accidents that resulted in deaths, the operators of these vessels did not receive proper boating safety instruction. Operator inexperience ranks as one of the top five contributing factors in all boating accidents, alongside of operator inattention, improper lookout, machinery failure, and alcohol use.
Boating is enjoyed by many Americans for rest and recreation. However, not everyone aboard a boat, as a passenger or as its operator, is always fully prepared to handle emergency situations. When this lack of preparation or training combines with adverse weather, or unsafe operating practices, the consequences can be severe, leaving survivors to wonder who is responsible.
The owners and operators of a boat have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of crew and passengers. If you have been injured or have lost loved ones in a boating accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation under the law. Penney & Associates can help you win financial restitution from those responsible for the accident, allowing you to focus on recovering physically and emotionally in the wake of these traumatic incidents.
WHAT ARE THE MAJOR CAUSES OF BOATING ACCIDENTS?
Similar to operating most land-based motor vehicles, boats require training and situational awareness to minimize the potential for accidents. In addition, boats require attention to detail and care during maintenance to prevent critical equipment failures that could endanger everyone aboard.
- Operator Inattention – Generally speaking, boats do not have the ability to respond to emergency situations rapidly, and the lag in response times grows with the size of the vessel. If a boat operator or captain is not attentive, running aground or into other boats is a real risk. Inattention can also endanger boats and passengers during inclement weather conditions, which can lead to capsizing. In 2017, collisions with other recreational vessels were the leading type of boating accident in the US.
- Machinery Failure – Like any motor vehicle, regular maintenance is required to ensure that a boat is in working order. While machinery can fail due to circumstances outside of anyone’s control, a lack of maintenance or improperly handled maintenance can increase the risk of this significantly.
- Alcohol Use – State and federal agencies managing US waters and waterways have made efforts to curb the use of alcohol by recreational boat operators. Despite this, alcohol use remains one of the top five contributing factors to boat accidents, and in 2017 was the leading contributing cause of boating deaths.
DROWNING REMAINS ONE THE GREATEST RISKS FOR THOSE INVOLVED IN RECREATIONAL BOATING ACCIDENTS.
The number one cause of injury and death in boating accidents is drowning, with 76% of all fatal boating accident victims in 2017 having drowned.
However, that percentage is greatly influenced by the lack of a life jacket. Statistically, boating accident victims have a much higher chance to survive if a life jacket is worn; nearly 85% of all drowning victims in 2017 were not wearing a life jacket.
In California, Coast Guard-approved life jackets are required by law to be worn by every child 13 years of age or younger on any moving recreational vessel. In addition, boats are required to carry at least one life jacket for every person aboard. These devices are expected to be easily and immediately available and kept in serviceable condition in the event of an emergency.
While state laws vary, there is a universal expectation that a boat operator must be prepared for an emergency. Failure to prepare can be seen as negligence in the eyes of law, and if that negligence contributes to drowning, a boat operator or owner can be held liable.
BOATING ACCIDENTS CAN HAVE LIFE-LONG CONSEQUENCES AND VICTIMS FACE AN UPHILL BATTLE IF THEY SEEK FAIR COMPENSATION.
Boating injuries are typically no more severe than scrapes and bruises. But they can involve extensive bodily trauma and brain injury. Surviving a boating accident can leave lasting injuries, some of which may be permanent. A drowning victim who is resuscitated could suffer permanent cognitive defects, resulting in reduced capacity and quality of life, requiring the need for costly round-the-clock care.
In fact, families of victims often suffer greatly, not just emotionally, but financially as well. Caring for a seriously injured loved one and covering their extensive medical fees can cause severe financial strain. Even if the victim does recover, they will have lost income during their recuperation, and may not be able to return to their former occupation.
Worse still, if the boat belonged to a recreational boating company, you may have to contend with their lawyers, who will fight to ensure their clients pay as little as possible. If you were a passenger aboard a boat that was serving alcohol, they could attempt to pin the blame on you for your injuries, even if the negligence of the boat’s operator or maintenance team were major contributing factors to the accident. Even your own insurance company could attempt to limit their payout on your policy.
BECAUSE OF THE COMPLEX NATURE OF BOATING ACCIDENTS THE BEST OPTION IS TO CONTACT A LAWYER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
At Penney & Associates, we offer free consultations to personal injury victims and their families. We understand that you have just endured a traumatic experience, and may not be prepared to even think about how to pay for your legal fees right away.
The attorney you speak with will ask questions at length to help establish the facts of your case. As the consultation ends, we will outline your legal options, and allow you to make what you believe to be the best decision.
Many personal injury cases are settled out of court, and we have successfully negotiated thousands of such settlements in favor of our clients. However, should your case go to trial, Penney & Associates has 35 years of experience winning cases for our clients, and we stand ready to provide you with that same level of service.