Boating Accidents: What You Need to Know

Boating is a fun and relaxing activity to enjoy with family and friends. It’s a popular way to spend a summer day on Indiana’s many lakes and rivers.

While boating is a reasonably safe activity when everyone takes proper precautions, there is a risk for serious injury.

In 2019, the United States Coast Guard counted 4,168 boating accidents. These recreational boating accidents involved 613 fatalities, approximately $55 million dollars of property damage, and 2,559 injuries. There were 40 reported boating accidents in Indiana in 2019, resulting in 11 fatalities.

Causes of Boating Accidents

In the reported incidents where cause of death was known, 79% of the victims in boating accidents drowned. 86% of those drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket.

Alcohol use was the top contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol use were the top five primary contributing factors for all the reported boating accidents. Machinery failure, navigation rules violations, weather, hazardous waters, and force of waves/wake round out the top ten contributing factors.

The most common reasons for boating accidents were collision with recreational vessels, collision with fixed objects, grounding, flooding/swamping, and falls overboard.

Tips for Safer Boating

If you plan to operate a boat, make sure you understand all operating instructions. Do not drink alcohol and operate the vessel. It is not illegal to consume alcoholic beverages on a boat, but it is illegal to operate a boat while intoxicated or impaired by drugs.

Operating negligence is one of the top causes of boating accidents. Operating the boat at high speeds, particularly when there are waves or wakes, can lead to accidents. Failure to maintain the boat, overloading the vessel, and collisions are also common issues. Keep an eye out for obstacles such as submerged objects and other watercraft.

To operate a motorboat in Indiana, you need to meet certain requirements. You must carry a valid driver’s license or complete a required education course. If you do not have a driver’s license, you should have a state-issued ID onboard with you.

If a boat owner or operator is negligent, that individual can be held liable for damages and losses due to a boating accident.

Common Boating Accident Injuries

Similar to car accidents, some common injuries caused by boating accidents include: fractures, lacerations, whiplash, traumatic brain injuries, and injuries to the back and spinal cord. Boaters are also at risk for electrocution and drowning due to the proximity to water.

If you are involved in a boating accident, call the police to report the accident and any injuries. Get everyone out of the water if you; if there is a severe injury and you suspect spinal cord damage, do not attempt to move the individual from the water. Instead, use flotation devices and wait for help if possible. Take photos and make detailed notes of all injuries. Get medical treatment for injuries as soon as possible.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, contact the Schuerman Law office today. Schuerman Law has been working with personal injury claims for over 40 years. John Schuerman will compassionately advocate for injured individuals as well as their families while fighting for full compensation of their claims. Schuerman Law offers evening and weekend appointments in addition to home and hospital visits. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 1-800-274-0045.