Summer is out in full force. Cookouts, vacations, breaks from work and school – entertainment options are all over the place. In Southeastern areas like Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Missouri, a popular activity is a trip to the lake. On any body of water, you may see boats and jet skis. Boating activities can be fun, whether we are fishing, water skiing, tubing, or just relaxing. However, safety should always be the top priority, as boat accidents are on the rise.
Boating Accident Statistics and Causes
According to the American Boating Association, 2016 saw 4,463 boating accidents, the highest number since 2012. Of these accidents, there were 2,903 injuries and 701 fatalities. All in all, these accidents caused nearly $49 million in property damage. The 2016 statistics unfortunately show troubling trends when compared to 2015 – there were 7.3% more accidents, 12% more deaths, and 11.1% more injuries in 2016.
You can probably guess the most common cause of boating accidents – drugs and alcohol. In addition, many boat crashes are caused by boaters who are not properly trained in operating the watercraft. Other common causes of boat accidents in the South are speeding, not maintaining proper lookout, inexperience, not paying attention, and machine failure. To prove someone should be held liable for your boating injuries, you will likely need to utilize the negligence laws of the state where the accident occurred. This means you must show the boater failed to act reasonably under the circumstances, thereby causing you to get hurt and suffer damages such as physical pain and incur medical bills, lost wages, or other out of pocket expenses.
Boating Under the Influence
Just like you cannot drive a car while drunk, the same applies to operating a boat. If you are caught operating watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you could be charged with Boating Under the Influence (BUI) or Boating While Intoxicated (BWI). The legal definition of BUI is broad and can be interpreted to mean operating a boat or watercraft under the influence of alcohol on a body of water, which could include a lake, river, or the ocean. In most states, the legal limit is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, just like drunk driving. To illustrate how dangerous drunk boating can be, the US Coast Guard estimates alcohol increases the chances of a boating fatality by more than 34%. This is why many law enforcement agencies choose to hold BUI Checkpoints.
Injuries Caused by Boating Accidents
If you or a loved one suffers harm while on watercraft, the injuries can be catastrophic. Drowning is a huge risk, which could lead to a wrongful death. If the victim is fortunate enough to survive, he or she could suffer extreme whiplash, concussions or head injuries, or broken bones. Sometimes, loss of a limb can take place if a boat’s propeller comes into contact with the victim in the water. Each state’s law will govern what you may be able to recover if you are hurt in a boat accident. Common forms of damages include medical bills (past or future), lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering. An experienced personal injury lawyer can assist you in identifying all possible damages you may be legally entitled to recover under the law.
How Can a Boating Accident Attorney Help You?
Investigating a boat crash that caused personal injuries is critical, something the law firm of Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz understands. Our accident and injury attorneys immediately begin a case by conducting a thorough investigation – which can include identifying applicable insurance policies, contacting witnesses, documenting the accident, and consulting with experts. For a free consultation to learn how we can help you or a loved one, call NST Law at 800-529-4004 or complete our online form. We are a large regional personal injury law firm, serving people injured throughout Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Kentucky, and Illinois.