With a warm climate and many lakes within a short drive of Dallas, boating provides a great recreational activity for many Texans who love taking to the water. From Lake Texoma to Lewisville Lake, boaters in Texas have so many options to get out on the open waters.
However, like most great outdoor activities, boating comes with many inherent risks. Boating accidents can lead to severe injuries or death, especially if a boat operator is negligent. The boating accident attorneys at Guajardo & Marks represent clients who have been the victims of a boat operator’s negligence and have suffered severe injuries as a result. Let’s look at a few things that all boaters should know.
Boating Accident Statistics
These numbers are taken from the United States Coast Guard.
- In 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard reported there were 4,463 accidents, with 701 deaths and 2,903 injuries.
- There were 1,051 collisions with another vessel, resulting in 38 deaths and 708 injuries.
- There were 565 collisions with fixed objects, with 63 deaths and 432 injuries.
- The Coast Guard stated that in 80% of fatal boating accidents in 2016, drowning was the cause of death.
- Eight out of every 10 boaters who drowned were in boats less than 21 feet long.
- Alcohol, as always, was the major contributing factor in fatal boating crashes; it was listed as the top factor in 15% of fatalities.
- 77% of fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instructions.
- There were 171 accidents where one person was hit by a propeller.
- Operator inattention and operator inexperience were leading factors in boating fatalities in 2016.
What Can We Learn from These Statistics?
First, it is imperative that all passengers and operators of boating vessels be equipped with life jackets that are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Every boat should have at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket per passenger, and passengers should wear these life jackets always.
The other lesson that we can learn from these boating accident statistics is the need for safety training on the part of the boat’s operator. The better and more extensive the training, the safer everyone on a vessel will be. In 2015, only 15 percent of boating fatalities occurred on boats with operators who had received a nationally approved boating safety certificate.
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Common Causes of Boating Accidents
There are many reasons that a boating accident may occur; however, it is most frequently due to human error. This includes:
- Operator Alcohol Impairment
- Operator Distraction
- Operator Inexperience
- Operator Inattention
- Excessive Speed
- Reckless Boat Operation
- Boat or Machinery Failure.
In most cases, it is the fault of a boat’s operator that causes boating injuries and fatalities. In some cases, it might be the fault of a boat’s manufacturer or the manufacturer of a faulty boat part. When negligence or faulty products caused a person’s injuries or death, victims and survivors can pursue justice in the form of personal injury or wrongful death claims. These claims can help victims cope with the steep financial ramifications that occur due to their injuries and losses.
Boat Safety Tips
To minimize the chances of being in a boating accident, it is important to remember the following safety tips:
- Always verify local weather conditions before you leave shore. If you see dark clouds, changing winds or rough water, it is a good idea to stay on shore.
- Follow a checklist. Being safe on the water requires you to be prepared. It is wise to follow a pre-trip checklist to ensure you have not forgotten any safety equipment or overlooked any precautions.
- Do not drink. The chances of being in a boating accident doubles when you drink alcohol. If there is alcohol on board, be certain that the boat operator is not drinking at all.
- Be very careful on personal watercraft. Jet skis are fun but dangerous. If you have borrowed or rented one, make certain you know how to use it. Stay at least 50 feet from all other boats, objects and people. And wear a lifejacket!
- Use lifejackets. Most drownings on boats are because people on board were not wearing lifejackets. Be sure that each person who is on the boat has a lifejacket and is wearing it.
- Be able to swim. If you are going to be on the water, you should know how to swim. There are many local organizations, such as the American Red Cross, that offer swimming training for people of all ages.
- Do not overload the boat. Having too many on board can lead to serious accidents, so do not have more people on board than a boat of that size should have.
- Take a boating class. Both novice and experienced boaters can always benefit from boating courses. Boater education standards vary by state, but some states do require operators to complete a basic boating safety course.
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If you or a loved one has been the victim in a boating accident, the Dallas boating accident attorneys at Guajardo & Marks are here to help. We will work hard to make sure that you don’t have to pay the price for the negligence of a boat operator or manufacturer. Contact us today for a free consultation.