blog home Boating Accident Common Causes of Boating Accidents and How to Prevent Them

Common Causes of Boating Accidents and How to Prevent Them

By Joseph Low on March 15, 2024

A boat from a birds eye view going through the water.

You’ll probably love boating if you like fresh air, water, and sunshine. There’s nothing like being out on a boat, whether on the lake, river, or ocean. And there are many enjoyable boating-related activities — fishing, sailing, water skiing, paddling a canoe, or just lounging on the deck.

Although boating is loads of fun, it can be dangerous. In fact, there are hundreds of boating-related accidents in California every year, with an average number of 59 boating fatalities. The best ways to avoid boating accidents are to follow the rules, bring safety equipment, plan ahead, and never allow anyone to operate a boat when intoxicated.

Boating Laws in California

California boating laws can be found in the Harbors and Navigation Code. Some laws regulate the use of all watercraft types, including kayaks, canoes, jet skis, sailboats, powerboats, and yachts. Any boat over 8 feet long or powered by a motor must be registered in California.

The California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways regulates boating in California, and boating laws are enforced by local police, county sheriffs, the California Boating Safety Officers Association, and the US Coast Guard.

Important watercraft laws designed to prevent accidents include:

  • All vessels must have enough Coast Guard-approved life jackets for each passenger.
  • The maximum speed limit is 35 mph.
  • All passengers under 13 must wear a life jacket at all times.
  • No one is allowed to travel on the bow, gunwale, or transom.
  • Any time a boat is towing someone, there must be an observer who can see and hear the person being towed.
  • Boats must have a whistle or noise-making device.
  • Running lights are required before sunrise, after sunset, and in times of limited visibility.
  • Powerboats must have a marine-type fire extinguisher.
  • Intoxicated operators are subject to being arrested and held in jail.
  • You must be at least 16 years old and have a boater card to operate a power boat with an engine that’s 15 hp or more.

Tips for Staying Safe When You’re Out on a Boat

Most boating accidents are caused by careless behavior, and numerous injuries and fatalities could be prevented if everyone followed these essential safety tips:

  • Have safety equipment. In addition to the required safety vests for every passenger, you’ll want a first-aid kit, rope for towing, visual distress signals, paddles, life rings, a waterproof flashlight, fresh water, and a tool kit.
  • Drink responsibly. The person operating the boat must remain sober throughout the voyage, and passengers must not become too intoxicated to move around the vessel without slipping and falling, falling overboard, or interfering with the safety of other passengers.
  • Don’t go too fast. Follow posted speed limits at all times, and be extra careful in 5 mph zones.
  • Plan ahead. Check the weather report before departing, pack all the necessary supplies, provide regular maintenance for your vessel, check fuel levels, and assign adult supervision for younger passengers.
  • Pay attention. The operator must always remain alert and watch for swimmers, other vessels, water skiers, and hazards such as buoys, rocks, and shallow water. Someone must take the operator’s place at the helm when they need to take a break, and no one should distract the operator.

What Causes Long Beach Boating Accidents?

Boat owners, operators, and other passengers can all be held liable for injuries that result from negligent behavior. Boating injuries and fatalities are caused by the following hazards and careless behavior:

  • Speeding
  • DUI
  • Lack of maintenance
  • Distracted operators
  • Tripping hazards
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Lack of safety gear
  • Fires and explosions
  • Boat crashes
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Propeller accidents
  • Overcrowding

What Should You Do If Someone Gets Injured on a Boat?

If someone gets injured on a boat, immediately apply first aid, call 911, and head for shore. In California, the boat owner/operator must report all accidents that result in death, disappearance, injury to a person requiring medical attention, or property damage that exceeds $500.

As soon as everyone has received the necessary medical treatment, you’ll want to contact The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV. Our attorneys have been helping boat accident victims in Long Beach for over 20 years, and we have a perfect 10.0 Avvo rating.

The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV will investigate your accident and file a claim or lawsuit against anyone whose negligent behavior contributed to your injuries.

Call our office at (562) 901-0840 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Long Beach boat accident lawyers today.

Posted in: Boating Accident

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