A boating accident can happen at any time, and they are most common in recreational areas that attract many visitors. Over 4,000 boating accidents were recorded by the Coast Guard in 2018 alone, as reported in the Coast Guard’s 2018 publication on recreational boating statistics. These accidents resulted in over 600 deaths, over 2,500 injuries, and resulted in an estimated $46 million in property damage.
Causes of Boating Accidents
To better understand the types of injuries that arise from boating accidents, it helps to first learn a little more about what causes boating accidents, to begin with.
Common causes of boating accidents include:
- Driver negligence or inattention
- Driving a boat recklessly or at high speeds
- Alcohol impairment or equipment failure
- Operator inexperience
- Navigating congested waters
- Driving a boat despite having an obstructed view
- Improper anchoring
- Suddenly taking a sharp turn
Injuries From Boating Accidents
The different types of accidents outlined above lead to a wide range of injuries, from minor bumps, bruises, and scrapes, to permanent disability, physical impairment, and even death.
Injuries commonly seen in boating accidents include the following.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic Brain Injuries, or TBIs, often result when the head strikes the water at high speed, causing the brain to strike the inside of the skull. This can happen if a passenger is overthrown from a boat as a result of the boat suddenly moving in a particular direction or hitting the wake of another watercraft.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Boat passengers are as susceptible to spinal cord injuries as the passengers of any other type of vehicle. SCIs, as they are commonly known, can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis, depending on where along the spinal cord the injury is sustained, as well as the extent and severity of the injury.
Broken Bones and Torn Ligaments
Boating accidents frequently lead to broken bones and torn ligaments. Beyond the pain and costs of recovery and rehab, there are certain injuries from which the victim may never fully recover, as is common when the injured patient requires a metal implant to help with a compound break.
Death, understandably, is perhaps the worst possible outcome of a boating accident. As mentioned above, there were over 600 boating-related deaths in the United States in 2018. The death of a loved one results in not only burial and funeral expenses but the loss of earnings of the deceased, as well as significant emotional and psychological trauma in surviving family members.
Steps to Take After a Boating Accident
If you’ve been involved in a boating accident, the first thing to do is to seek medical help and undergo a thorough physical examination. Thereafter, as soon as you are able, speak with an experienced and qualified attorney to learn more about the laws that govern the operation of watercraft, how New York’s navigable waters laws are to be followed and interpreted for your specific case, and what your rights and responsibilities are after the accident.