Let a New Orleans Boat Accident Attorney Pursue Justice for You and Your Loved Ones
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. For these reasons, it is imperative that anyone hurt in a boat crash seek help with an experienced New Orleans boat accident attorney.
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 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.
Common Causes of Boat Accidents and Injuries
While spending time on a boat for recreation is usually much more fun than spending time in a car fighting traffic, boats and cars share a lot in common. They both require experienced, attentive, and responsible people behind the wheel or at the helm. They both require regular maintenance and review to ensure that they can run safely, and they are both vulnerable to equipment failures. Boats and cars also can also lead to tragic accidents that cause serious injuries or death.
The causes of boating accidents can be generally grouped into three broad categories: human error, equipment problems, and weather conditions. Sometimes, a combination of those factors can lead to accidents and injuries, as well as the loss of a vessel.
Some of the most common causes of boating accident and injuries include:
In many ways, speeding on a boat is more dangerous than speeding on the road. Boats don’t have brakes, and it can be difficult to stop suddenly when moving at excessive speed. Speeding also limits reaction time and the ability to take evasive action if necessary, such as avoiding other boats, swimmers, or water hazards. Additionally, speeding on rough water can cause unexpected movements and loss of control of the boat, and can cause passengers to be thrown overboard.
Speeding is just one form of reckless boating. Failure to follow navigational rules, ignoring “no wake” zones, inattentiveness and distracted boating, and boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are just a few examples of operator recklessness that can lead directly to boating accidents. Operator use of alcohol is a particularly dangerous form of nautical recklessness. According to a 2017 report by the U.S. Coast Guard, “Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents,” That report found that in 2016, alcohol was the primary factor in 282 boating accidents, leading to 264 injuries and 87 deaths.
Inadequate Boat Maintenance
Any boat owner knows the amount of work involved in keeping their vessel safe and seaworthy. Boats require regular, skilled, and thorough maintenance. Unknown or unaddressed problems with the engine, steering mechanism, hull, decks, or railings can lead to catastrophic, accident-causing failures.
Fire or Explosions Onboard
Boats contain ample amounts of fuel. They also contain ample amounts of flammable materials. Both are often in confined and poorly ventilated conditions, and fuel can spill, creating additional dangers. Fires and explosions can lead to severe burns and injuries and can cause a boat to sink altogether.
Flooding or Capsizing
As we all know from Titanic, there is no such thing as an unsinkable boat. Leaks or weaknesses in a boat’s hull can lead to flooding, as can rough seas and stormy weather. For smaller vessels in particular, bad weather can cause a boat to capsize, sending passengers into the water or trapping them inside the boat.
Defective Boat Equipment Claims Can Also Be Handled by a New Orleans Boat Accident Attorney
Boats are large, complex machines with many parts; engines, generators, electronics, batteries, wires, fuel tanks, drive lines, propellers, just to name a few. When even the smallest part is defective, it can create large problems and lead to accidents, from fires and explosions to sinking.
Driving Without a Boating License
Safe boating requires a thorough understanding of navigational rules, safety procedures, and the dangers inherent in boating. You must prove that you know what you are doing to get a boating license, so unlicensed boat operators are more likely to lack of proper training, experience and understanding of the rules than are licensed boaters.
A Note About Boat Accidents Caused by Underage Boat Operators
If you can picture a bunch of unsupervised kids or teenagers operating and riding in a boat, you can picture how underage boating accidents happen. Minors not only may lack the training and experience to safely operate a boat, but they are also prone to distraction. Add in underage drinking and you have a recipe for potential disaster.
Underage boating can and does lead to preventable injuries and deaths. Often, minors who shouldn’t have access to motorboats or personal watercraft are provided such access by parents or rental companies who should know better. When that happens, those parties who negligently permitted a child to operate a boat can be held accountable.
Louisiana Laws for Underage Boating
In an effort to ensure that boat operators have the education and experience to navigate the state’s waters safely, Louisiana law establishes certain age and training requirements. Specifically:
- All persons, aged 20 or younger, must complete a boating education course – approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators – to operate a motorboat in excess of 10 horsepower. These persons must carry proof of the course’s completion.
- It is unlawful for anyone under age 16 to operate a personal watercraft.
- It is also illegal for a person who owns or has charge of a personal watercraft to knowingly permit a person under 13 years of age to operate the watercraft. Furthermore, it is illegal for a rental company to rent a watercraft to anyone under the age of 13.
- The operation of any kind of vessel, or manipulation of water skis, a surfboard, or similar device while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs is strictly prohibited.
When these laws are violated and an underage boat accident occurs, these laws help protect your right to compensation. Whatever the cause, if an underage boating accident has resulted in injuries or the loss of a loved one, Bloom Legal can help. With experience, fierce advocacy, and a deep understanding of the unique issues involved in underage boating accidents, our New Orleans boat accident attorneys will fight to get you what you deserve when you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident on the water.
What Compensation Will My New Orleans Boat Accident Attorney Pursue?
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
- Claims for limitation of liability
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 and you’ll need the help of a New Orleans boat accident attorney to evaluate your opportunities for compensation.
The Bloom Legal Advantage: Contact Our New Orleans Boat Accident Attorney 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 boat injury law 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 boat accident attorney 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