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What You Should Know About Boating Accidents

Each year, Florida is at or near the top of the list of states where boating accidents occur. With our abundance of rivers, lakes, waterways and, of course, the Atlantic Ocean, it’s no surprise—and with the weather quickly warming, boating accidents will soon be on the rise in the Jacksonville area. Most of these accidents will result in only minor damage and/or injuries, but some will undoubtedly end in life-changing injuries or even fatalities. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident caused by someone else’s actions, the boating accident attorneys at Harrell & Harrell, P.A., have the experience in handling boat and watercraft accident claims that can help you get the compensation you deserve.

boat accident

Boating Accident Facts

According to the 2016 Recreational Boating Statistics published by the United States Coast Guard, there were 4,463 boating accidents that year, including:

  • 701 deaths
  • 2,903 injuries
  • Approximately $49 million in property damage

The fatality rate was also increased by more than 11 percent from the prior year and the number of accidents was up by more than 7 percent.

The report also identified the most common accident types, including:

  • Collision with another recreational vessel
  • Collision with a fixed object
  • Flooding or swamping
  • Grounding
  • Capsizing

The vessel types with the most casualty numbers were:

  • Open motorboats
  • Personal watercraft
  • Cabin motorboats
  • Canoes or kayaks
  • Pontoon boats

Factors Contributing to Boating and Watercraft Accidents

The U.S. Coast Guard’s report showed there is a wide range of factors that contribute to boating accidents. With the exception of machinery failure, the top six factors may be attributed to the boat operator’s negligence or recklessness:

  • Operator inattention, responsible for 597 accidents, 45 deaths, and 373 injuries
  • Operator inexperience, responsible for 480 accidents, 62 deaths, and 301 injuries
  • Improper lookout, responsible for 475 accidents, 20 deaths, and 380 injuries
  • Excessive speed, responsible for 360 accidents, 39 deaths, and 275 injuries
  • Alcohol use, responsible for 282 accident, 87 deaths, and 264 injuries

All of the factors above fall under the category of “Operation of Vessel,” making it clear that most accidents were caused by factors that the boat’s operator had within his or her control rather than factors such as weather or hazardous waters that could not be controlled.

Tips for Safe Boating

Whether you’re an experienced boater or have decided this is the year you’ll become one, remember that you have the choice to do all you can to keep yourself and your passengers safe on the water. Here are a few tips for having a safe and enjoyable outing:

Do a boat safety check: These tasks may seem basic, but they shouldn’t be skipped. Ensure you have adequate gas and well-charged batteries. Visually inspect your boat’s hull to ensure there are no cracks or holes. Also, check to see if your bilge pump is in good operational order.

Check your life jackets: Replace old life jackets, and have the rights sizes on board for all of your passengers, including children. Insist that your passengers wear them.

Leave your emergency radio on: In spring and summer, the weather in Florida can change very quickly, so keep your radio on in case weather warnings are broadcast. Your radio is also essential for learning of any accidents or other conditions that you may encounter on busy waterways.

Watch your speed: Obey all posted wake zone and other speed limit signs.

Know the rules: Before each boating season, take time to thoroughly review the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Boating Regulations.

Never operate a boat or watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol: Just like on roadways, things can happen quickly on the water. Boat operators must be fully aware of their surroundings, including the environment and the boaters around them. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, boating while impaired increases the chances of a boating fatality by more than 30 percent. It’s also against the law: A vessel operator who is suspected of boating under the influence must submit to a sobriety test and a test to determine blood-alcohol content.

Contact Our Boat Accident Lawyers

Any type of personal injury accident, including those that happen on the water, can leave you or a loved one with life-changing injuries. To find out if you are entitled to seek restitution for damages caused by a boating accident, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced boat accident lawyers. You can reach us online or call 904-251-1111 or 1-800-251-1111.