DHS Reports Vast Increase in Boat Accident Injury Incidents

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Coast Guard report, 767 people died as a result
of boating accidents and 3,191 people were injured in 2020 in the United States. Compared to the
previous year, the number of deaths and injuries directly linked to boating accidents increased
considerably. Not surprisingly, the use of recreational boats increased during the pandemic and the rise
in boater usage resulted in more injuries and deaths.

The primary contributing factor of recreational boating accidents was inattention by the operator,
accounting for 546 accidents in the U.S. Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout,
excessive speed, and machinery failure rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

In addition, alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the
primary cause was known. Operating a boat while intoxicated lead to 18% of deaths. Drinking while
boating is all too common and the results are frequently deadly.

The primary cause of death was drowning and accounted for 75% of all boating deaths. Of the
confirmed drownings, the overwhelming majority of victims were not wearing a life jacket. The second
most common cause of death was physical trauma, generally coming from a boat crash itself. There
were also a large number of deaths caused by propellor injuries to boaters in the water.

According to “The Safety Report” published by Tom Young, there are certain tips to ensure a safe boat
trip and prevention of water accident injuries. These tips include:

  • Know the conditions and environment in which you are traveling

  • Boat only with experienced and trained people

  • Be aware of other boats while in the water

  • Keep good distance from the propellor and back of your boat

  • Avoid alcohol, illegal drugs and combining drugs and alcohol

  • Prepare for inclement weather

State liability laws and measures can be quite confusing after a boating accident, which is why it is
advisable to speak with a personal injury law firm that has experience with boat accident injuries other
water sport accidents. Lawsuits can be filed against boat operators for negligently and reckless
endangering other boaters, passengers, and people in the water. Most boat owners have liability
insurance and their homeowner’s insurance policies may cover some claims too.

Liability is determined on a number of factors. These include the degree of carelessness by the operator
and other potential actors. A passenger injured due to the fault of the operator in the same boat can file
a claim against that person too. In some cases, there may be multiple defendants and insurance policies,
especially if two boat operators were responsible for causing the injury or death.

A person injured in a boating accident can seek compensation for pain and suffering, disability,
disfigurement, and other non-economic damages. Claims for economic, or financial losses, can also be
made for lost wages and medical bills. In the event of a fatality, the surviving family members can file a
wrongful death lawsuit.

It is essential to contact an experienced boat accident lawyer as soon as possible after the incident. This
will help preserve necessary evidence to prove and win the case. It may be necessary to hire a
reconstruction expert to inspect the boats and a private investigator to obtain witness statements.
There are also strict time deadlines for filing lawsuits so the sooner you hire a lawyer, the more likely
you are to obtain a successful outcome in the case.

Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. 2022
National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 194

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