Many of us enjoy getting away from it all by heading to the water to take in some boating, sailing, sport fishing and all types of extreme water sports. Boating is great fun and a lifestyle for many. With more and more California residents heading to the ocean, lakes, rivers and streams to have fun on the water, it’s no wonder many boating accidents occur in our state each year.
According to the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways’ Accident Stats, there were 473 boating accidents reported in 2012. Of those accidents, 247 injuries were reported as were 53 deaths. The same report tells us that over 776,500 vessels were registered in the state with more than 151,000 being personal watercraft.
Types of California Boating Accidents
The types of boating accidents Bay Area personal injury attorneys routinely handle include:
- Para-sailing accidents
- Jetski or Waverunner accidents
- Motorboat accidents
- Wind and kite surfing accidents
- Accidents caused by boat operators being under the influence
- Canoe accidents
- Kayak accidents
- Ferry worker accidents
- Scuba Diving and Snorkeling Accidents
- Passenger boat accidents (cruises and ferries)
- Tug boat and barge accidents
All types of boating accidents happen in northern California each year on rivers, lakes, waterways and bays including the Sacramento River, Suisun Bay, Carquinez River, Napa River, San Pablo Bay, Central Valley Lakes, the Sacramento and San Joaquin Delta, Clear Lake and more.
Boating accidents typically occur because people underestimate the dangers that are associated with boating. While boating is a fun pastime, it is a risky venture in which boat operators owe others a certain degree of care. Determining fault in a boat accident can be a complicated legal matter. Therefore, it’s always best to hire an experienced California personal injury attorney to help you navigate the waters so to speak.
What Causes Boating Accidents
Many factors can contribute to a boating accident either on a privately owned vessel, a personal watercraft (jet ski) or a ferry. Some of these factors include:
Operator error – Operating a boat requires special care due to all types of hazards including swimmers, other boats, water depth and weather conditions. In other words, there is much to watch out for when operating a boat. When the operator of a boat does make an error, tragedy can strike.
Operator inexperience – An inexperienced boat operator or driver can easily cause a boating accident. It takes skill and knowledge to operate a boat. Just one seemingly small operator error can result in a horrible accident that causes people to become injured and even killed.
Driving while intoxicated – Just as it’s irresponsible and dangerous to drive a car on the roadway when intoxicated, operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol is a recipe for disaster. Each year in California, driving while intoxicated results in many boating accidents. In spite of strict laws and efforts made by law enforcement, many people still operate boats while drinking.
Equipment failure – A boat that is experiencing some type of equipment failure can easily cause an accident on the water. For instance, a boat that has malfunctioning lights can strike other boats or be hit by other vessels when on the water after sunset.
Adverse weather and/or water conditions – It is the responsibility of a boat driver to head to dock when the weather turns foul. Unfortunately, not all boat drivers heed the dangers presented by bad weather and large waves. A boat can easily toss people overboard, strike obstacles or even capsize while moving through large swells or a powerful storm.
Speeding – Driving a boat at excessive speeds is very dangerous as it can result in a horrific accident taking place on the water. On a beautiful sunny day, it’s common for California’s lakes and rivers to be full of boats, swimmers and jet skis. When a boat driver operates his/her vessel irresponsibly by speeding, he or she is putting everyone on the water at high risk for injury and death.
Driver distraction – A boat operator is obligated to keep his or her eyes on the water. It is easy for a boat driver to be distracted by passengers, others boats, swimmers, skiers and the scenery.
Improper Loading of the boat – Many boat drivers are guilty of allowing too many passengers to board their vessels. If a boat is overloaded with people and/or cargo, it will not move through the water with ease as it was designed to do. An over-loaded boat can be difficult to steer and it also risks sinking as all boats have a maximum weight carrying capacity.
People involved in boating accidents suffer a wide range of injuries including:
Broken bones – When two boats traveling on the water collide, the results are often catastrophic. It is common for boat accident victims to suffer from a variety of injuries including broken bones. A severely broken bone can result in the victim being handicapped for the rest of his or her life. Additionally, a person with a severely broken bone may not be able to work for months or maybe not at all.
Burns – Fires and explosions on boats happen quickly and so do the burns that result. When a boating accident victim sustains serious burns, that person must deal with pain, scarring, disability and the possibility of developing post traumatic stress disorder. The impact from a serious burn injury can last a lifetime as every aspect of the victim’s life may be affected by the accident they were involved in.
Spinal cord injuries – Jet skiers, water skiers, sailboat riders, operators of recreational and fishing boats can all suffer life-changing spinal cord injuries when out on the water having fun. It only takes one collision or fall from a boat to severely injure the spine which could result in partial or full paralysis.
Head injuries – Because boat accident injuries often involve watercraft traveling at high speeds, catastrophic head injuries are often sustained by people involved in boating accidents. Head injuries sustained in boat accidents run the gamut from non-serious bumps and bruises to more serious lacerations, concussions and traumatic brain injuries.
Amputations – Among the worst of all boating accident injuries are amputations. Many boats on the waterways in California have powerful motors and propellers. If a person happens to be in the path of a moving boat, he or she can be struck by the vessel itself or by the motor or propeller to result in an amputation of a body part such as a hand, leg, arm, foot or finger.
Lacerations – When a person gets too close to a moving propeller in a boating accident, he or she can become very seriously injured. A propeller in action is akin to a set of spinning, sharp knives that can slice through a person’s body, resulting in deep lacerations which require extensive medical care and treatment.
Filing a Boat Accident Claim
If you’ve been injured in a boating accident that was caused by someone else, you may be able to file a claim to recover all of your losses including medical expenses, loss of income, pain & suffering and other losses related to the accident you were involved in. When you work with the experienced California personal injury attorneys at Hogan Injury, you will increase your chances of winning your case. We will help you prepare, plan and file your injury claim and will cover all the technicalities to ensure you have a strong case that will bring favorable results.
Wrongful Death Claim
Losing someone you love is hard enough but when a senseless boating accident claims the life of a loved one, it can be absolutely devastating. We also help families recover compensation when they have lost a loved one in a watercraft accident and need to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. For more information, please do not hesitate to email us or call 415-421-2800 to schedule an appointment.