Louisiana and Gulf Coast residents enjoy access to The Gulf of Mexico, Lake Pontchartrain and a vast array of other rivers and bayous. Personal watercrafts ranging from fishing boats, ski boats, pleasure barges and even jet skis are a popular pastime. While being out on the water can be fun, it can also be a potentially dangerous undertaking. With so many boaters on the water and the increase in popularity of smaller and quicker personal watercraft devices such as jet skis, there is the increased probability of being involved in a boating accident.
Boating Accident Statistics
According to a 2017 report from the United States Coast Guard, boating accidents, injuries, and fatalities are rising. The statistics are frightening and sobering:
- In 2016, the Coast Guard counted 4,463 recreational boating accidents involving 701 deaths, 2,903 injuries and approximately $49 million dollars in property damage.
- The boating accident fatality rate in 2016 was 5.9 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels, a 11.3% increase from 2015.
- Compared to 2015, the number of accidents in 2016 increased 7.3%, the number of deaths increased 12%, and the number of injuries increased 11.1%.
- Where data was known, the most common vessel types involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (47%), personal watercraft (18%), and cabin motorboats (15%).
The report also makes clear how and why these accidents happen:
- Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure rank as the top five primary contributing factors in recreational boating accidents.
- Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 15% of deaths.
- In cases where the status of the boat operator’s training was known, 77% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction. Only 13% percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally-approved boating safety education certificate.
- Where cause of death was known, 80% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 83% were not wearing a life jacket.
Given Louisiana’s ample opportunities for recreation on the water, it should come as no surprise that we experience more than average number of boating accidents, injuries, and deaths.
According to the same Coast Guard report:
- The number of boating accident deaths in Louisiana in 2016 was 24, up from 22 deaths in 2015.
- The total number of boating accidents in the state rose from 87 in 2015 to 112 in 2016, a 29 percent increase.
- Another 92 people were injured in Louisiana boating incidents in 2016, and boating accidents that year caused $1.6 million in property damage.
Louisiana Boating Accidents Claims and Remedies
Boating accidents that occur on the water may often be the result of another boater’s negligence. Speeding, disobeying no wake zones and drinking alcohol all contribute to boating accidents. When these situations occur, the issue of the wrongdoer’s negligence will often be considered and may subject that person to state tort law claims. However, there may be other remedies available. If your boating accident case falls within the admiralty jurisdiction of a federal court, you may be able to bring a federal maritime claim as opposed to a state law claim.
Due to the complexities of federal maritime law, it is important that you have a knowledgeable, experienced New Orleans boating accident lawyer evaluate your accident case in order to determine what course of action will be in your best interest. An attorney with the proper skills will be able to properly explain the advantages and/or disadvantages of filing your case as a maritime claim within the federal admiralty jurisdiction versus filing your case under state tort law.
When you are involved in a boat accident that falls within federal maritime law, you may be entitled to various legal remedies that are unique to admiralty jurisdiction including:
- Jones Act claims,
- unseaworthiness claims
- or claims for limitation of liability.
The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, allows an injured seaman to sue his or her employer for the negligence that caused their injury. A seaman for the purposes of a Jones Act claim is a legal term of art that is influenced by how much time the injured person spends working on a vessel to determine whether or not they qualify as a seaman.
The legal complexities surrounding the terms Jones Act, unseaworthiness and limitation illustrate the importance of having a New Orleans boating accident lawyer who can examine the facts of your case and apply them to appropriate laws to best execute an effective cause of action for your boat accident claim.
Boating Accidents as a Result of Product Defects
Although most boat accidents occur as a result of someone’s negligence on the water, a thorough investigation of the accident may reveal that a product defect in the watercraft caused the accident and resulting injuries. Where a defect in the product has been found, your claim may be against the actual manufacturer of the product or if the manufacturer used parts in their boat or jet ski that were produced by a third-party manufacturer, you may have a claim against them as well.
In such cases, experts may be used to bolster your case by showing that accidents, such as the one you were involved in, do not often occur unless there was something wrong with the watercraft in use at the time. It may be a defect in the product.
The Bloom Legal Advantage: Contact Our New Orleans Boating Accident Lawyer Today
Boating accidents are a serious reality and often involve serious injury or even death. When you or a loved one has been involved in an accident on the water, you need an experienced firm like Bloom Legal that can look at your individual case and devise a legal plan that is best for you. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, or for pain and suffering.
With a variety of legal claims to be made and compensation to be sought, Bloom Legal will fight to get you what you deserve when you have been affected by an accident on the water. Contact an experienced New Orleans boating accident lawyer at Bloom Legal today at 504-599-9997 or through our contact form to discuss the details of your claim.
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Posted by: Sarah Perrie