Residents of and visitors to California can enjoy a lot of time on the water. Recreational boats abound, and they provide a variety of fun for all types of people.
Recreational boats include a wide variety of watercraft, including yachts, wave runners, sailboats, cabin cruisers, speed boats, pontoons and paddleboards. Although they provide entertainment, they are also involved in many accidents that result in injuries and even death.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety, in 2019, there were 4,168 accidents involving recreational boats. Of these, there were 2,559 injuries, 613 deaths and $55 million in property damage. The top three watercraft involved in accidents were open motorboats, personal watercraft and cabin motorboats. Of the known fatality cases, 79% of them drowned and 86% of people who drowned were not wearing a lifejacket.
Accidents and liability
When it comes to causes of boating accidents, the most common contributing factors are:
- Operator inattention
- Improper lookout
- Excessive speed
- Operator inexperience
- Alcohol use
Boating under the influence was the number one cause of fatal accidents.
If someone receives injuries from a boating accident or a family member dies, it may be a reason to take legal action if the operator of the boat failed to provide adequate safety. Other parties that someone may sue might include the rental company or manufacturing company if they were negligent or reckless in a way that resulted in an accident.
If the accident occurred on navigable waters, legal action occurs on the federal level. If not, the lawsuit takes place in the state court.