What Are Some Common Boating Accident Injuries?
According to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), in 2018, there were 4,145 recreational boating accidents. These incidents accounted for 633 deaths, 2,511 injuries, and $46 million in property damage. Some of the most common boating accident injuries include the following:
- Brain trauma
- Broken bones
- Ligament damage
- Cuts and burns
- Spinal cord injuries/paralysis
- Death (usually by drowning)
The medical bills, lost wages, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment from these types of injuries can be overwhelming.
How Do Boating Accident Injuries Happen?
Like car crashes, boating accidents often occur because the person operating the boat was speeding and/or under the influence. Here are the top five contributing factors to boating accident injuries:
- Boat operator inattention
- Boat operator inexperience
- Improper lookout
- Machinery failure
- Excessive speed
The USCG reports that alcohol was the leading factor in about 1 in 5 boating accident fatalities in 2018. In nearly 75% of these fatal incidents, the operator had not received boating safety instruction.
According to the 2018 data, these are the types of vessels most likely to be involved in a boating accident injury:
- Open motorboats (46% of incidents)
- Personal watercraft (19%)
- Cabin motorboats (15%)
Open motorboats were also the vessels involved with the highest proportion of fatalities (50% of incidents), followed by kayaks (13.5%) and canoes (7%).
If I File a Boating Accident Lawsuit, Whom Do I Sue?
It depends, as state, federal, and international maritime laws vary, and each category has its own nuances. That said, it’s common for an injured person to file a lawsuit against the boat operator’s insurance company, especially if the operator acted negligently. For example:
- Boating under the influence
- Operating the boat at excessive speeds
- Failing to have safety equipment on board
- Taking the boat out in bad weather
- Colliding with another vessel or fixed object
- Overloading or overcrowding the vessel
- Failing to slow down for waves and wakes
- Any other reckless or careless actions while operating the boat
On the other hand, if defective equipment led to the injury, the boat’s (or boat parts’) manufacturer might be liable.
Regardless of who is at fault, the responsible party may deny liability and try to pay the injured person as little as possible. For that reason, after a boating accident, an injured person should always contact an attorney to determine if they qualify for a legal case.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
An attorney can help determine if someone should file a boating accident lawsuit. If so, they will help steer the plaintiff through the legal process, poring over police and medical records, interviewing witnesses, consulting experts, and negotiating with the other side. They will build the strongest possible case so the injured party can focus on getting better.
Importantly, most personal injury attorneys are free to hire unless the client wins a settlement or jury verdict, at which point the attorney accepts a percentage of the money recovered.
Boating accident injuries can devastate a person’s health, career, and finances. As a result, there are many types of damages a person may be able to recover through a lawsuit:
- Medical bills (medication, hospital stays, physical therapy, etc.)
- Pain and suffering (physical pain and/or emotional distress)
- Lost wages and loss of earning capacity
- Loss of life’s enjoyment
- Funeral expenses (in the case of drowning)
- Other damages (e.g., compensation for disability or disfigurement)
Full compensation for these damages can help a person put their life back together. If you think you might qualify for a boating accident lawsuit, please don’t hesitate to contact us.