Boat trips can define a memorable summer, though can also be extremely dangerous, and in the worst case scenarios, deadly. Boat accidents can result from intoxication, boat defects, unlawful operation of a watercraft or operator negligence. Injuries can be severe, and drownings and deaths are commonplace results of boating accidents.
In 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard reported 4,463 accidents that involved 701 deaths, 2,903 injuries and around $49 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. About 10 percent of the 3,500 drownings each year in the United States are attributed to .
Year-on-year, 2016 saw an increase of about 11 percent in the number of recreational boating fatalities across the nation. Where cause of death is known, 80 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims over 80 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
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Boating Injury & Drowning Accidents
• Collision with recreational vessel • Collision with fixed object • Boat malfunction • Flooding/swamping • Grounding of watercraft • Capsizing • Struck by propeller
Understanding Boat Accidents
Open motorboats are by far the most dangerous form watercraft in terms of total injuries and deaths reported. Casualties involving open motorboats outnumber all the other water vehicles by a large margin. Motorboats account for 47 percent of all boating accidents. Other kinds of watercraft involved in accidents and drownings include the following:
• Open motorboat • Personal watercraft—jet ski and wave runner • Cabin motorboat • Duck boat • Pontoon • Barges • Sailboats
The number one risk factor in boating drowning accidents is an inability to swim. In the United States of America drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in children aged 1–14 years. Boating is associated with 15-20 percent of Ohio’s drowning accidents each year. Other leading factors in boating and drowning accidents include:
• Boat Size—smaller vessels are notably more dangerous. Eight out of every ten boaters who drown use vessels less than 21 feet in length. • Alcohol and Drugs—Alcohol use is listed as the leading factor in 15 percent of boating drownings and deaths. Drugs are also a known factor in accidents. • Inexperience and Lack of Safety Instruction—around 77 percent of deaths occur on boats where the operators do receive boating safety instruction.
Drunk Boating Accidents
About half of boating accidents and drownings involve alcohol or drugs. And even with PSAs and harsh drunk boating penalties, many boat operators continue to drink and cause serious accidents on Ohio’s rivers and lakes.
Even a few beers can prove dangerous while driving a speed boat, and anyone who is intoxicated and causes an injury can be held liable. Boat drivers with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.10 percent are 10 times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than those who do not drink.
The U.S. Coast Guard and the CDC have become particularly concerned with deadly incidents related to carbon monoxide buildups in houseboats. Single hull houseboats, which have swim platforms that extend behind the back of the boat are of particular hazard. Carbon monoxide exhaust gas from the engines collect in the space under the swimming platform and may reach lethal concentrations.
Large boats, like houseboats, often have generators that vent off the rear of the boat near swimming decks, posing the risk of CO poisoning.
Carbon monoxide may build up in the space beneath the swimming deck when a boat is moving at slow speeds or idling.
CO may build up in a boat cabin, galley, cockpit, bridge, and aft swim deck. A draft can cause CO gasses to build up inside the cabin, creating an invisible toxic gas that has caused reported deaths.
Swimming decks can be particularly dangerous when a boat is stopped and the engine idling because the decks are right above where a boat vents exhaust.
Duck Boat Accidents
In 2010, a duck boat accident on the Delaware River killed two passengers after the boat collided with a passing barge. In 2015, a Philadelphia woman died after a duck boat struck her in the street. In the same year, a duck boat crashed into a bus and killed five passengers.
Duck boats are not designed for tourism purposes, though have been used by several companies in unsafe manners. The vehicles were originally designed as military transport vehicles and lack important safety features. Tour operators may also neglect regular maintenance and endanger boat passengers.
The boats lack maneuverability, and because duck boats sit low in the water, they sink easier than other watercraft. Combine such hazards with passengers without life jackets and fatal situations can easily arise. Safety advocates and more than one boat accident lawyer has called for boat safety reforms.
In 2018, a dozen people died in Missouri after the captain of the boat allegedly discouraged passengers from wearing life jackets. The accident in Missouri occurred on Table Rock Lake after a strong storm capsized the duck boat, killing 17 passengers. The boat was owned by Ride the Ducks, a duck boat tour service that operates in Cincinnati, Ohio and several other cities across the country.
Ohio personal injury attorneys and boat accident lawyers are urging boat operators on the Ohio River and other waterways to prevent similar duck boat accidents in the future. About 350 drowning deaths each year in the United States are attributed to boating accidents.
Boat Accident Lawyer
Boat accidents typically occur on lakes or rivers. Many waterways are quite busy with commercial freight vessels which can be responsible for an accident.
Negligent operators and other boats are most likely to cause a serious accident and injury. To help you investigate the cause of a particular accident, contact a boating negligence lawyer.
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Why are these cases important?
Serious injuries and accidents often result through no fault of the injured party, yet the injured victim suffers from life altering physical, mental and financial losses. Such economic and human losses can have devastating financial consequences on individuals and families if not properly compensated. Tort law allows those individuals to seek just legal recourse through personal injury lawsuits.