Top 10 Causes of Boating Accidents

Law Firm in East Providence: d'Oliveira & Associates
Keep yourself safe while boating and avoid these common reasons for boating accidents.

With the summer boating season just around the corner, it is important that we refresh our knowledge of how to stay safe in the water. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2014, there were 4,064 accidents that involved 610 deaths, 2,678 injuries and caused about $39 million in property damage as a result of recreational boating accidents nationwide. Understanding why these accidents occur is a good way of learning how to prevent them as well as the injuries and fatalities -- a majority of which is avoidable.

Here are the top 10 reasons why boating accidents occur:

1. Operator inattention: Boat operators are required at all times to stay vigilant and constantly monitor their boat, the weather and any
unsafe conditions or objects nearby. Conditions at sea may be unpredictable, which means operators should look for early warning signs of any hazards out there.
2. Improper lookout: Another common cause of boating accidents is the lack of a proper lookout who was designated to watch for threats or hazards.
3. Inexperience of operators: According the U.S. Coast Guard's annual report, operator inexperience was the third most common cause of boating accidents. Operators not only need to understand the basics of boating and rules of navigation, but they also need to be prepared to handle emergency situations.
4. Excessive speed: Just as we drive at safe speeds on the roadway, it is critical to operate your boat at a safe speed. This will give you time to react to dangers. Excessive speed may result in collisions with other boats or vessels.
5. Impaired operation: Alcohol or drug use can be a factor in boat accidents that result in death or serious injury. In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the legal limit of blood alcohol level for boaters is the same as it is for automobile drivers – 0.08 percent.
6. Equipment failure: Proper boat maintenance is crucial for its safe operation. It is the responsibility of the boat owner to make the necessary checks to ensure that the boat is in good condition.
7. Violating navigational rules: In the water, these are similar to the rules of the road. Violating the rules of navigation can prove to be extremely dangerous. It may lead to crashes with other boats or running the boat aground.
8. Dangerous waters: Conditions in the water can change within a matter of minutes. While some situations cannot be anticipated, there are scenarios that can be expected. Operators of boats should be mindful at all times of the conditions.
9. Weather: Boat operators should always check weather conditions including storm forecasts and wind patterns, before heading out. Never ignore weather alerts.
10. Force of waves or wakes: A wake is the disturbance of the water resulting from the passage of the boat's hull. A force of a large wave or a wake can cause accidents, injuries or even fatalities.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident caused by someone else's negligence, recklessness or wrongdoing, you can seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, loss of wages and benefits, hospitalization, permanent injuries, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced boat accident lawyer will help victims and families better understand their legal rights and options.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul d'Oliveira
Attorney Paul d’Oliveira has been practicing personal injury and disability law for over 29 years. He started his personal injury law practice in 1989 with two offices in Fall River, MA and East Providence, RI. Today his firm has 15 offices in RI and Southeastern, MA.

Copyright d'Oliveira & Associates

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

Find a Lawyer