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Boat Crashes On The Rise

Apr 24, 2008
Many of us spend our summer days boating on local waters. Most experiences leave us refreshed and invigorated. Others end in disaster.

In 2005 alone, 697 fatalities and 3451 injuries were caused by recreational boating accidents, which are accidents occurring in any type of watercraft (motor boats, sailboats, inflatables, or houseboats). A negligent boating operator who is found to be at fault will most likely pay for damages, which can include property, medical, lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.

Types of accidents

According to the Coast Guard Recreational Boating Accident Report Database, boating accidents must be reported if:

. Death was a result;

. Injury required medical treatment beyond first aid;

. Damage to the vessel or other property was $2000 or more; or

. Vessel was not repairable.

Collisions with another boat or with fixed objects such as a marina dock; capsizing, and passengers falling overboard account for approximately 58 percent of all boating accident fatalities. Contact with the propeller, water skier mishaps, explosions, and fire also contribute to the types of boating accidents that occur on our waterways.

Moreover, statistics show that 70 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned mostly because they were not wearing a personal floatation device (PFD) or life jacket. Trauma is the other leading cause of death in boating accidents.

Cause and effect

Negligence in a boating accident can be attributed to a careless or reckless operator whose lack of knowledge of basic boating safety rules, disobeying safety laws, or alcohol use cause these unfortunate fatalities. Alcohol and the open water can be a dangerous combination. The motion of the boat, sun, wind, and spray accelerate impairment. Boating under the influence (BUI) can in some cases be more dangerous than driving under the influence (DUI) because many boaters have less experience maneuvering a boat than a car. Any substance such as alcohol that inhibits judgment, coordination, and reaction time, puts the boat and its passengers at a greater risk.

Staying safe on the water

Here are a few tips to stay safe on the water:

. Know the rules of the water by taking a boating safety course from the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. These clsses are also available on CD;

. Know the maximum capacity of the vessel and resist overloading it with passengers or gear;

. Ensure that you have a life jacket or PFD for each passenger on board. Adults do not have to wear the PFDs while on board, but must be able to access them easily. Children should wear them while on board, although states differ on the age limits. And, if you are operating a vessel 16 feet or longer you must have a throwable PFD;

. Have a fire extinguisher on board (mostly applies to larger boats);

. Get a free vessel safety check;

. Watch for potential threats at a marina such as loose boards, uncoiled rope, leaky hoses, and faulty gas pumps; and

. Wear non-slip shoes and encourage your passengers to do the same.

What to do if involved in a boating accident

A boating accident must be reported if it meets any of the criteria mentioned above in this article. Report the accident to the appropriate state agency that regulates boats, the Coast Guard, or both. Also, do not forget to contact your insurance company. It may be wise to contact a boat-crash attorney who understands the laws and state liability measures. Courts will examine the cause of the accident, whether the vessel malfunctioned, the degree of carelessness by the operator, and the carelessness of the victim before determining fault. And finally, if you are injured in a boating accident, seek advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer.
About the Author
Visit http://www.LegalView.com for more information on this and other topics like traumatic brain injury accidents and prescription drug recalls. A recent rash of prescription drug controversies have given rise to recalls such as the Chantix recall, http://chantix.legalview.com/.
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