Boating is one of the most popular outdoor hobbies in the United States. And though it is widely considered a fun and relaxing sport, recreational boating has a dark side. In 2008, boating accidents in the United States resulted in 3,331 injuries and 709 deaths. Shockingly, America’s waterways are second only to highways in terms of the number of accidental deaths occurring on them.
The main causes of these boating accidents are attributable to the following acts of negligence: excessive speed, no proper lookout, operator inattention, and general carelessness. Not surprisingly, excessive alcohol consumption played a role in 17 percent of boating accidents.
Boating accidents involve a multitude of different watercraft. Open motorboats were responsible for 43 percent of boating accidents, personal watercraft for 23 percent, and cabin motorboats for 15 percent. The United States Coast Guard requires operators of all watercraft defined as vessels to make an official report when a boating accident occurs.
The Coast Guard defines the term “vessel” as any watercraft or artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on the water, including airboats, auxiliary sailboats, cabin motorboats, canoes, houseboats, inflatable boats, kayaks, open motorboats, personal watercraft, pontoon boats, rafts, rowboats, and sailboats. (The Coast Guard has not determined unmodified inner tubes to be “vessels”; accidents involving them are therefore not included in Coast Guard reports.)
Federal law (33 CFR Part 173; Subpart C — Casualty and Accident Reporting) requires that victims of boating accidents file a report with the nearest state boating authority. The Code of Federal Regulations requires a boating accident report to be filed within 48 hours of the occurrence of any of the following kinds of incidents:
- A fatality that occurs within 24 hours of the accident;
- A person’s injury that requires medical attention beyond first aid;
- Damage to the vessel that results in more than $2,000, or in the vessel’s total loss;
- A person’s disappearance from a vessel under circumstances that point to death or injury.
The reporting authority can be the state where the accident occurred, the state in which the vessel was numbered, or — if the vessel does not have a number — the state where the vehicle was mostly used. If the operator is deceased or cannot make the report because of injuries, then the vessel’s owner must do so. For less serious incidents a report must be made within ten days of an occurrence if there is damage to the property or vessel.
If you find yourself the victim of a boating accident, consult attorneys trained in the rules and regulations governing boating accidents. At Wattel & York, Attorneys At Law, our Phoenix boat accident lawyers have extensive experience handling boating accident cases. We take every necessary step to investigate the possible causes of your accident so that you receive full compensation for any pain and suffering your boating accident has caused you.
But our services go beyond simply ensuring that you receive adequate compensation for injuries sustained in a boating accident. Wattel & York will also seek out the appropriate medical specialist for your injuries and will work with that specialist to ensure that payment for his or her services is delayed until your case is completed by settlement or trial.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a boating accident, call Wattel & York, Attorneys At Law toll-free at (877) 572-4143. You can also submit a simple case form on our website.
An initial consultation is free of charge. If we take your case, we work on a contingent-fee basis. That means you pay us only if you receive a monetary reward or recovery of fees. Don’t wait any longer; a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations in your state expires. Call us now, because you may have a valid claim entitling you to compensation for the injuries, pain, and suffering a boating accident has caused you. With our Tucson boating accident lawyers, four offices around Arizona as well as Seattle boat accident attorneys in Washington, we are well equipped and ready to handle your case.