Every time you step onto a boat or any other type of watercraft, you have some risk of drowning. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention roughly 4,000 unintentional drowning deaths happen each year in the U.S. This means there are an average of about 11 drowning deaths every single day.
If you end up in the water, a life preserver may make the difference between dying or sustaining a serious injury and returning to the boat unscathed. While life preserves do not technically have expiration dates, they may become less effective over time.
The makeup of life preservers
Buoyant materials, such as plastic foam, polyvinyl chloride and polyethylene, allow life preserves to float. While these materials tend to be resilient, they are not indestructible. Eventually, tiny cracks in their materials may cause life preserves to become less buoyant or even sink beneath your weight.
Moreover, environmental conditions may speed up the degradation process. If a boat’s life preserver has constant exposure to sunlight, humidity, oils or salty air, it may require replacement earlier than those in friendlier environments.
A duty to keep you safe
The boat’s captain has a duty to keep you reasonably safe when you are on the water. This duty includes ensuring you do not fall overboard. If you do, a member of the crew should throw you a life preserver. Furthermore, crewmembers should regularly inspect their life preservers for signs of damage and replace them when necessary.
Ultimately, if you suffer a catastrophic injury when using a faulty life preserver, you may have grounds to seek a substantial financial settlement.