Recreational Boating Enters More Dangerous Waters

By Joseph Low on August 23, 2021 - Comments off

With California’s year-round sunshine and abundance of recreational boating spots, the popularity of boating among the state’s residents and visitors is no mystery. On the surface, recreational boating in California has become a safe social distancing option for those wanting a momentary escape from the confines of their homes during the coronavirus pandemic. But with more vessels setting sail in the past year, new variables and unpredictable behavior have increased recreational boating dangers for those who just want to enjoy a day outdoors. It is important to understand what you are up against and to know your legal options if you get into a boating accident that is not your fault.

Increase in Boating Accidents During the Coronavirus Pandemic

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the recreational boating industry saw a first-time boat buyer surge in 2020. Among the most popular vessels were personal watercraft, wake boats, freshwater fishing boats, and pontoons. With sales up from 2019, they predicted the sales trend to continue from 2020 into this summer.

Unfortunately, the rise in first-time and inexperienced boat owners may be a significant factor behind the recent growth in boating accidents. Compared to 2019, the United States Coast Guard observed a 26.3% increase in accidents, a 24.7% increase in injuries, and a 25.1% increase in deaths in 2020. Top types of reported recreational boating accidents included:

  • Recreational boat collisions
  • Flooding
  • Crashes with other objects
  • Running aground
  • Falling overboard

Top contributing factors to boating accidents included:

  • Distracted navigation
  • Inexperience operating a boat
  • Not monitoring surroundings
  • Going above the speed limit
  • Mechanical issues
  • Violation of navigation rules
  • Alcohol intoxication
  • Weather and water conditions

The Coast Guard also compiled data on time of year and day that both fatal and non-fatal accidents commonly took place in 2020. Incidents peaked at their highest in July, which is not surprising given that the summer months typically see more people out on the water. Based on the data, most accidents happened between the afternoon hours of 2:31 PM and 4:30 PM.

Practicing Boating Safety in California

The requirements for recreational boating in California include a mandatory California Boater Card, issued by the California Division of Boating and Waterways. On top of federal boating laws, recreational boaters are to follow all California state boating regulations and requirements to operate safely on the water. They include a life jacket inspection, a safety equipment check, sharing your excursion plan with others, and knowing safe weather conditions for boating.

Unfortunately, not everyone practices responsible boater safety in California. Incidents reported in 2020 boating accidents took into account whether victims wore life jackets and ranged from drowning to propeller-related injuries and even carbon monoxide poisoning. With multiple safety factors to take into consideration on a body of water, an operator’s inexperience or recklessness can seriously injure you whether you are in the same boat, another boat, or the water.

Compensation After a Boating Accident

You may experience traumatic injuries in the uncertain moments following a boating accident. These can take a toll on you physically and mentally long after the initial accident. Whether you are dealing with short- or long-term trauma, California’s personal injury law offers the opportunity to seek restitution. If you can prove that another boat operator’s careless actions caused you harm, you may be entitled to compensation for:

  • Current and future medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages due to missed time at work
  • Loss of earning capacity if you cannot return to your current job again

Your window of opportunity to file a claim is limited. As a result, you should contact a boating accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident to start the process of filing a claim.

A Lawyer Can Help Navigate Your Claim

There are legal complexities to sort out after a boating accident with regard to federal and state laws, fault, and insurance. If you have been hurt in a recent boating accident, you will want to call a California attorney who will look at the facts of your accident and pursue the maximum compensation you deserve from all at-fault parties. Call The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV at (562) 273-2638 or toll-free at (888) 973-0304.

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