While we get into our summer adventure mode and pull out the kayaks, speedboats, and Jet Skis, it’s crucial to remember that a significant amount of injuries and fatal accidents happen in the water.
We let down our guard during the summer. With rising temperatures and flowing alcoholic drinks, people can become impaired, and susceptible to deadly incidents that could have been prevented. The summer season also welcomes many inexperienced first-timers who might not have enough skill to properly operate watercraft…and who can inflict a great amount of damage onto others.
This was the case with a New Jersey woman who was killed in a Jet Ski crash last year. The 33-year-old victim was struck by a man who negligently rode his watercraft, and afterwards admitted that he didn’t understand the safety instructions. In 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard reported three dangerous boating accidents at the Jersey Shore in the span of 24 hours! The Coast Guard had to rescue an injured boater, stuck Jet Ski-ers, as well as record two fatalities—a father and son who died in a Jet Ski collision.
What Is a Boating Accident?
Every year, the U.S. Coast Guard compiles statistics on boating accidents. By their definition, a vessel is involved in a “boating accident” whenever “a death, missing person, personal injury, property damage, or total vessel loss results from the vessel’s operation, construction, seaworthiness, equipment, or machinery.”
The 2017 report indicates that the Coast Guard had counted “4,291 accidents that involved 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries, and approximately $46 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.” It also stated that, “the fatality rate was 5.5 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.”
How to Stay Safe in Water
In the boating accidents where the cause of death was known, 76% of the victims drowned and 84.5% were not wearing a life jacket. It’s always a good idea to wear a life jacket when you’re involved in any water activity, even if you’re an excellent swimmer.
Another huge factor in fatal boating accidents is alcohol, which was listed as a leading factor in 19% of the deaths. It’s very important for people to stay sober when partaking in activities like jet-skiing or kayaking. Whether you’re operating the vessel or trusting someone else to do it, it’s crucial that the person operating the vessel has the proper experience and attention to fulfill his/her duties.
The most common vessel types that were involved in accidents were open motorboats (46%), personal watercraft (18%), and cabin motorboats (16%). If your summer involves any of those vessels, be sure to stay safe. Remember, here are the most common dangers of boating:
- Falling overboard.
- The vessel grounding, sinking, capsizing or flooding.
- A fire on board of the vessel.
- Being forcefully knocked off the vessel.
- Water-skiing accident.
- Colliding with another vessel or object.
- Being struck by another vessel.
- Striking a submerged object.
- Being exposed to carbon monoxide.
- Being electrocuted on board of a vessel.
The Coast Guard suggests that everyone pay attention and look out for others when they’re on the water. They advocate having a working radio on board, insisting that everyone wear a life jacket, and trying to keep track of the location of your vessel, so that in an emergency you can tell rescuers your location and they do not have to waste precious time in trying to find you in an endless body of water.
If You Were Injured by Someone Else, Speak to a Lawyer
Water accidents can be heartbreaking, especially when they are preventable. They are also complicated to litigate, because maritime law has its own set of rules. If you’ve been involved in an accident, you might have trouble figuring out who to sue and what claim might be your best option. We can help with that. Let us worry about the complexities of your New Jersey boating injury claim while you focus on your recovery. Call Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., at (609) 240-0040 for a free consultation.