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Boating Accidents and Injuries

Understanding the most common boating accidents and injuries can help you to enjoy your boat safely. Many people are enjoying their boats already this year. Many more will be on the water soon. Boat owners are required to know the Virginia boating laws and regulations. (Official Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries boating license course.  Get Certified)

In this post, we want to take a look at recreational boating.

Boating Accidents and Injuries - Altizer Law PC

2019 Virginia Boating Incident Summary *produced by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF):

  • Number of Incidents = 89
  • Number of Vessels Involved = 94
  • Number of Injuries = 35
  • Number of Fatalities = 20
  • Alcohol was a known factor in 20% of fatal incidents.
  • Paddlecraft (canoes and kayaks) were involved in 10% of fatal incidents.
  • In 95% of fatal incidents no life jacket was worn
  • Property Damage = $572,456

* reported to DGIF

At first glance, the numbers of incidents seem relatively small (compared to vehicle crashes). What is remarkable is the number of injuries and fatalities relative to the number of incidents. Each of the 55 killed or injured in boating accidents is a person whose life is changed as a result of the incident.

Most Common Types of Boating Accidents

Among the most common types of boating accidents are these, which result in death or injury.

  1. Jet-Ski Accidents. Jet skis can be fun and exciting. Under the right circumstances, however, they can cause serious injuries. The factors that often play into a jet-ski accident include lack of experience, inadequate training, speed, water conditions and weather conditions. Operating a jet ski while drunk or drugged or ignoring essential safety rules can also result in tragedy. Serious injury and death are common because the operator/passenger has no protective surrounding, is low to the water, and typically uses only minimal safety equipment. In some cases, the failure of training and/or equipment is the responsibility of the driver/owner. In other cases, however, a rental company may be responsible for inadequate training or for improperly maintained jet ski equipment.
  2. Pontoon Boat Accidents. More people die every year in pontoon boat incidents than in jet ski accidents. Pontoon boats are not made to move quickly. Sometimes this gives people a false sense of safety and security. Behaviors like “bow riding,” sitting outside the railings, or dangling one’s feet over the side of the boat can result in drownings, run-over accidents, and propeller accidents. Alcohol or drug use, inadequate training and indifference to safety rules can be factors in many serious injuries and deaths. In some cases, the operator of the pontoon boat or the owner who rents out the boat can be held responsible and liable for negligence in an accident event.
  3. Party Boat Accidents. Alcohol is often a factor in party boat incidents. It may be the actions of an drunk operator or a drunk passenger may fall overboard. Other factors are involved in other accidents. If an accident occurs, the first step is to determine who was liable for any negligence that caused the accident. Was the incident due to actions or failure to act on the part of the owner or the operator, or was it due to the actions of a passenger.
  4. Waterskiing and Towing Incidents. An accident involving someone who is being pulled behind a speeding boat while waterskiing or being towed can result in the most serious injuries of all types of boating and watersport accidents. An untrained or irresponsible driver of a boat can cause someone to lose connection to the boat, to be pulled in front of another boat or sent into a dock or wharf. Sometimes these incidents are uncontrollable accidents. At other times, it is someone’s negligence that causes the accident.

Common Types of Boating Injuries

Boating accidents of the types listed above can result in many types of injuries. The most common are these:

  • Slip and Fall on a boat. Decks and other surfaces can become slippery. Injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident on a boat may be similar to those sustained on dry land.
  • Overboard accidents. When someone falls overboard, the impact with the water can cause injuries; and can cause loss of consciousness. If the person who has fallen overboard cannot swim or falls into particularly rough water conditions, the result can be drowning.
  • Dangerous water or weather conditions can cause someone who has fallen overboard to drown. Drowning can also occur when there are no life jackets or inability to swim. Injuries sustained in a slip and fall or overboard accident can render the individual unable to float or tread water.
  • Run-over accidents. When a passenger on a boat falls overboard or is thrown into the water by a towing accident, or when a swimmer is in the wrong place, being run over by a boat can cause numerous serious injuries including: traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries, disfigurement, and death.
  • Propeller accidents. Tangling with a boat propeller causes very serious and deadly injuries. From serious lacerations to dismemberment to internal injuries are merely the most obvious of injuries that can be caused by a rapidly rotating propeller blade.

Before the spring and summer season is fully under way, please ensure that all members of your family and any guests who may go boating with you are trained in boating safety, are equipped with properly fitting floatation gear, and are not on the water alone. Ensure that someone on the boat knows at least the basics of first aid and that there is an adequate first aid kit on the boat. Remember that alcohol and drugs do not mix with boating.

Call Altizer Law, P.C.

If you or a loved one is injured while boating, seek medical treatment, report the incident, notify your insurance company, and call us. Liability in boating accidents can be complex. If you have been injured due to the negligence of another person, and through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to appropriate compensation for your hurts and harms. Bettina Altizer and her team of experts have been helping people injured by others for more than 25 years. Recovering from serious injuries and rebuilding a life is difficult. When seeking compensation we understand that it’s about the money.