There are plenty of things the law doesn’t allow minors to do because they lack experience, knowledge, judgment, or the physical capability to do them safely or prudently. Whether it is driving a car, purchasing alcohol, or signing legal agreements, just to name a few, children are prevented from engaging in certain activities to protect them and others from youthful mistakes. But as any parent knows, just because the law says a child or teenager can’t do something doesn’t mean they won’t. When it comes to boating, minors frequently take the helm of motorboats or ride personal watercraft like jet skis in violation of the law and/or without the necessary training or skills to do so without putting themselves and other people at risk.
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.
At Bloom Legal, our New Orleans boating accident lawyers work with individuals and families who have suffered injuries and other losses in underage boating accidents. We know how suddenly a fun day on or near one of Louisiana’s many recreational waterways can turn into a never-ending nightmare. We are committed to getting the victims of boating accidents the compensation which can help them recover and move forward with their lives.
Causes of Underage Boating Accidents
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.
Those three factors – inexperience, inattention, and intoxication – are also three of the biggest causes of fatal boating accidents. According to the United States Coast Guard, in 2016:
- Operator inattention was the number one primary contributing factor in boating accidents, leading to 597 accidents which caused 373 injuries and 45 deaths.
- Operator inexperience was the second leading factor in boating accidents, causing 480 accidents, 301 injuries, and 62 deaths.
- Alcohol use was responsible for causing 282 accidents and 264 injuries, and led to 87 fatalities, more deaths than were caused by any other factor.
Louisiana Underage Boating Laws
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.
Call Bloom Legal Today for a Free Consultation With a New Orleans Boating Accident Lawyer
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, 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 details of your claim with a New Orleans boating accident lawyer.
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Posted by: Zachary Klos