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 accidents 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
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.
Discuss the Causes of Boating Accidents and Your Injuries Today
Whatever the cause, if a boat 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 boating accidents, Bloom Legal will fight to get you what you deserve when you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident on the water. Contact Bloom Legal today at 504-599-9997 or through our contact form to arrange for your free consultation to discuss the causes of boating accidents and the details of your specific claim.
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Posted by: Sarah Perrie