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Summer’s End: Danger of Boating Accidents Lingers

life jacket at the water's edge

The lazy, hazy days of summer may soon be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean all warm weather activities have ceased. In fact, many capital district residents are still venturing to area lakes and rivers each weekend to take advantage of the warm upstate New York weather. News reports of a tragic July 25, 2016 boat crash on Lake George, in which an 8-year-old California girl was killed and her mother injured, teach the sad lesson that while summer may be ending, the dangers of boating still linger.

Coast Guard Data Show Some Particularly Dangerous Activity

According to data compiled annually by the U.S. Coast Guard, during 2015, the Coast Guard counted 4,158 accidents that involved 626 deaths, 2,613 injuries, and approximately $42 million of property damage resulting from recreational boating accidents. The Coast Guard also notes that:

  • There are almost 12 million recreational vessels registered by the states
  • Seventy-six percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned and, of those drowning victims, 85 percent were not wearing a life jacket
  • Eighty percent of boaters who drowned were in vessels less than 21 feet in length
  • Alcohol use was the leading contributor in fatal boating accidents
  • Twenty-two children under the age of 13 years lost their lives in fatal boating accidents – 12 from drowning
  • Just two of the children who drowned were wearing life jackets at the time of the fatal accident

Many Boating Accidents Are Preventable

Just as is the case with auto accidents, most boating accidents are caused by negligence. Boater inexperience is a common factor in fatal accidents. Almost 75 percent of fatalities occurred where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction. According to the Coast Guard, the five most common types of boating negligence are:

  • Operator inattention
  • Operator inexperience
  • Improper lookout
  • Machinery failure
  • Excessive Speed

Experts point out that injuries and fatalities could be significantly reduced if boat operators would follow some common sense rules, including:

  • Don’t drink and drive
  • Maintain all safety equipment (don’t keep life jackets stowed, use them)
  • Take a periodic class in boat safety
  • Be aware of weather conditions, since they can change quite quickly
  • Have your head on a swivel – as experienced boaters say, “There are no painted lines on the water. It’s up to the operator to see what is in the vicinity.”

Boating Accident Victims May Recover Damages in Many Instances

As with auto accident claims, the issues related to boating accidents can be complex. Insurance companies have already hired a cadre of attorneys to represent the other party’s interests. If you or a member of your family has suffered injury in a boating accident, you need the assistance of skilled, experienced legal counsel like the law firm of Hacker Murphy. As one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the capital district, we have been representing clients for years. We are among the top rated lawyers in the country, achieving the highest ratings from both client groups and our peers. Attorney E. Stewart Jones, Jr. is a third generation New York attorney who, at one time or another during his active career, has won the largest verdicts in a number of counties across upstate New York. He and his colleagues have the experience and resources to help you establish your claim and negotiate the best possible settlement. Call us now at (518) 284-3183 or complete our online form. The Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.