WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU ARE INVOLVED IN A BOATING ACCIDENT

The US Coast Guard’s Recreational Boating Statistics Guide shows that most boating accidents are caused either partially or entirely by the negligence of the boats operator. Most of their reviews found that sadly, most boating accidents could have been avoided if the boat operator had followed proper procedure and been attentive to his driving. In 2015, there were 5.3 deaths per 100,000 registered vessels and 76% were drownings. Sadly, of those 76% of drownings, 85% of the victims were not wearing lifejackets. Based upon review of statistical data the following are the top 10 most common causes for boat accidents:

1) Use of Alcohol

2) Excessive Speed

3) Mechanical Failures

4) Failure to Check for Weather Conditions

5) Rapid Change in Water Conditions

6) Negligence of the Boat Operator

7) Failing to Maintain a Lookout for Other Boats

8) Inexperience of the Boat Operator

9) Violations of Rules Governing Private Vessels on the Waters

10) Failure to Use Proper Safety Gear

Most boating accidents involve one or more of these factors. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, please contact our office immediately. We can make sure that you or your loved one receives the compensation that you deserve for a personal injury that you sustained in a boating accident in Henderson, Las Vegas or anywhere in  Nevada. 

Use of Alcohol

Just like in a motor vehicle, it is a sad reality that many boat operators use alcohol while they are out on the waters. It is important to note that the same rules of operating a vehicle under the influence apply to a boat operator. Alcohol resulted in the fifth highest number of deadly accidents. In fact, almost as many people died in boating accidents related to alcohol than in most other causes combined. Operating a vehicle on the waters requires a blood alcohol content of less than .08%. If you are enjoying the waters with friends and family make sure that the boat operator is the designated operator and not using alcohol while operating the vessel.  There is no way to call for an Uber on the water.

Excessive Speed 

It is critically important that boat operators operate the vessel at a proper speed to keep their passengers safe. Just like highways, there are actually speed limits in many areas of the lake. Operating a boat too fast has caused collisions or rollovers that have resulted in catastrophic injuries.

Mechanical Failures. 

Although it is not the most common cause of all the accidents it is important for the boat owner to conduct routine safety checks on the boat to make sure it is in good condition. Failures of the motor or other mechanical issues such as steering and controls can be difficult to overcome once out on the open waters.

Always Check Weather Conditions

We have all gotten up to a beautiful morning and by the end of the day it is storming. It is of crucial importance in planning a day on the water to check the hourly forecast. Sadly, many boating accidents and fatalities have occurred due to drastic changes in weather and a capsize of the boat. Even if you are going with friends, take it  upon yourself to check your smart phone for the hourly daily forecast so that you can prevent any type of catastrophic weather accident.

Rapid Change in Water Conditions

Often the passing of another boat can cause serious wakes and changes in the water conditions.  Always be mindful of other vessels on the water and their proximity to your boat as well as the size of your boat. It is best to avoid the vicinity of larger vessels on the water if possible.

Negligence of the Boat Operator

It is important that the operator of the boat be skilled in boat operation. Many people purchase boats and fail to take any class or review any manuals. To get a driver’s license it is required  by law to take a written test and a driving test so that drivers have a basic level of skill on the road. Unfortunately, this is not the case with owning a boat in most states. Therefore, the ability and skill of the operator varies widely. Make sure that the operator of the boat that you are on is skilled in the operation of the vessel.

Failure to Maintain Lookout

It may be surprising for you to learn that a large number of boating accidents happen as a result of collisions with other boats. It is critical that all passengers assist the operator to watch for other vessels and avoid collisions with other vessels. Often, boats cannot make last-minute maneuvers like cars so it is important to keep a lookout at a distance to make sure that you are not getting too close to other vessels on the water.  Unlike the roads, boating vessels can be traveling in any direction, anywhere on the water. 

Inexperience of The Boat Operator

Often times during a day at the lake, multiple people will drive the boat. I do remember being a kid and my grandma letting me drive the boat.  It was such a thrill. Fortunately, she was with me and taught me many valuable skills such as the ones listed above in operating a boat. It is fun to take turns driving the boat. It is important to always supervise and make sure that an experienced operator is present and teaching any inexperienced operators the ins and outs of operating the vessel on the water.   It is an important statistic that only 15% percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally-approved boating safety education certificate. 

Violation of Boating Rules

It should not be surprising that there are rules and regulations on the waterways just as there are rules and regulations on the roadways.  Boating accidents are governed by federal, state and local laws. There are also laws for BUI, or boating under the influence rules. http://www.ndow.org/boat/boating_safety/pfds/  

Failure to Use Proper Safety Equipment

As stated above, there are numerous rules regarding safety equipment for boaters. Failure to use this results in injuries and fatalities every year. Make sure that everyone is wearing a life vest not just children.  At the Law Offices of Law Hunt, we urge all boaters to wear life jackets and protect children by ensuring they are wearing properly fitting life jackets at all time. All children under 13 years of age are required to wear lifejackets while boating in Nevada.  For additional information on boating safety, visit http://www.ndow.org/Boat/Boating_Safety/ Owners of recreational watercraft must be sure their boat carries the mandatory safety equipment and is compatible with state and federal laws. As part of this compliance, boats must be registered, they must meet certain equipment requirements including having lifejackets, visual distress signals, fire extinguishers, proper ventilation, back fire flame controls, sound producing devices, and navigation lights. They must also follow operating procedures including following navigation laws, and all state and federal laws.  Sadly, in 2015 twenty children lost their lives in boating accidents who were not wearing life jackets. http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-488.html#NRS488Sec193  

In 2015, the United States Coast Guard counted 4,158 boat accidents that involved 626 deaths, 2,613 injuries and approximately $42 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents   https://www.uscgboating.org/library/accident-statistics/Recreational-Boating-Statistics-2015.pdf    

Unfortunately, Nevada has a high rate of boating accidents. Lake Mead is an extremely popular recreation area.  Its natural beauty and warm climate make it an inviting destination to enjoy boating activities. With an average of 10 million visitors annually, this is the busiest national recreation area in the country, centering on the nation’s largest manmade lake.  It also leads the national park system in fatalities. In 2015 it was reported that Nevada was ranked in the top states for boating accidents with most of those accidents happening at Lake Mead.

If you have a question about boating accident injury and/or any questions regarding a personal injury, whether from a car accident or a slip and fall or any combination of injuries, please don’t hesitate to call The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC, and Henderson Injury Attorneys for over 13 years. Please call our office if you or if a loved one is injured.  We can make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve and advise on how to preserve evidence. If you have been in any type of accident and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury offices today. At our office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to. Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities.  They want to pay as little on every claim as possible. Having worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.   

          At the Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Henderson offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032. 

Boating Injury Statics:

  • The fatality rate was 5.3 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels in 2015.
  • This rate represents a 1.9% increase from 2014’s fatality rate of 5.2

deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels

  • Compared to 2014, the number of accidents increased 2.3%,  the number of

                          deaths increased 2.6%, and the number of injuries decreased 2.4%.

  • Where cause of death was known, 76% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. 
  • Of those drowning victims, 85% were not wearing a life jacket.

  • Eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.
  • Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 17% of deaths.
  • Where data was known, the vessel types with the highest percentage of deaths were open motorboats (46%), kayaks (12%), and canoes (11%).

  • Twenty-two children under age thirteen lost their lives while boating in 2015. Twelve children (55%) died from drowning. Two children (17%) of those who drowned were wearing a life jacket; half of the remaining ten children who were not wearing a life jacket were not required to do so under State law