How Do Most Boating Accidents Occur?


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Boating is a summer pastime for many Americans, but those lazy afternoons on the water can quickly turn deadly when a boating accident occurs. According to the US Coast Guard, more than 4,000 boating accidents occur in this country every year, resulting in more than 2,000 non-fatal injuries and over 600 deaths.

Thankfully, Pennsylvania has relatively few boating accidents, with only 41 accidents reported in 2022. These incidents resulted in 30 injuries that required medical attention and nine fatalities. New Jersey saw more boating accidents, with 110 accidents resulting in 32 injuries and four deaths. While this may seem relatively small overall, the affected victims and their families will be affected for years.

How Do Boating Accidents Occur?

While many factors contribute to boating accidents, the Coast Guard indicates that alcohol is the leading factor in fatal boating accidents and directly caused 16 percent of all boating-related fatalities last year. After alcohol, the top five contributing factors in accidents include:

  • operator inattention
  • operator inexperience
  • improper lookout
  • excessive speed
  • machinery failure

How Can Boating Accidents Be Prevented?

While we typically think of boating as a recreational activity, it must be remembered that operating a boat, whether powered by a motor, wind, or oar, requires vigilance. It’s important to remain aware of your surroundings whenever a boat is in motion and to always be conscious of the safety of yourself and those around you.

Boat operators need to know the relevant laws and regulations for operating a boat on the water and the specifics of the vessel they intend to operate. Taking a boater education and/or water safety course is an excellent first step toward gaining experience on the water and understanding how to operate a boat safely. Life jackets should also be worn at all times by all passengers.

Boating accidents often happen when people are engaging in water sports like water skiing, tubing, or wakeboarding. It’s essential that boat drivers or appointed lookouts properly alert any surrounding boats that someone is in the water and that boat operators be mindful that there could be someone in the water even if they haven’t been specifically warned.

Boat operators must know how many people their boat can safely hold, as overloading a boat with too many people can lead to capsizing. Capsizing is the second most common type of boating accident in Pennsylvania, so it’s important to exercise good judgment when out on the water.

Like any vehicle, boats require regular maintenance. Issues with the engine, steering, or hull can lead to serious injuries and death. Manufacturing defects can also impact how a boat functions and contribute to a boating-related injury or death.

Finally, just like driving a car, general safety rules always apply. Drug and alcohol use can contribute to the likelihood of an accident by affecting judgment and reaction time, and speeding can make other boats, hazards, and obstacles more difficult to see in time to prevent a collision.

Who’s Liable In A Boating Accident?

When a boating accident results in catastrophic injury or death, it’s human nature to want to find someone to blame. While some accidents can’t be avoided, many can be prevented by following common sense practices like those listed above. You may have grounds for a liability case if you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident and believe that someone else’s negligence resulted in injury. You could be entitled to compensation if you were a passenger in the at-fault boat, a helpless victim in the water, or in a boat that a negligent driver hit. Find an attorney who specializes in personal injury lawsuits, and make sure that the person whose negligent behavior resulted in your catastrophic injury pays for what they’ve done to you and your family.

Why Choose Ross Feller Casey?

At Ross Feller Casey, our experienced personal injury attorneys know that negligent boating can turn an afternoon of summer fun into a nightmare resulting in catastrophic injury or death in an instant. Our team of lawyers and doctors have extensive experience getting justice for injured people and their families, including those who have been victims of boating accidents.

Our record speaks for itself, with billions recovered for our clients over the years, including more than 75 $10 million-plus verdicts and settlements. Consultations are always free, and there’s never a fee unless you win your case. Contact us today, and we’ll do everything possible to get you the justice you and your family deserve.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.