Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler October 6, 2016

The recent tragic death of star Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two companions in a late-night boating crash was a grim reminder for all of us that while boating can be fun, it also can be dangerous.

Waterways have little if any traffic controls. Waterways at night can be extremely dark. Waterways can be more dangerous than land due to bad weather. Unlike automobiles, boats don’t have brakes. These and many other factors make safe boating procedures imperative.

Also consider this: The American Boating Association reports a total of 4,158 boating accidents led to 626 fatalities and 2,613 injuries in 2015, when the boating accident death rate rose for the second consecutive year.

These statistics come from the United States Coast Guard, which showed $42 million in property damage due to boating accidents last year alone.

Causes and Types of Boating Accidents

While bad weather and darkness can lead to boating accidents (Hernandez died when his boat struck a jetty at high speed at night), they also can occur in broad daylight and on calm waters. Here are some more causes and types of boating accidents:

  • Boats capsizing, as a boat turns onto its side or turns completely over. Often caused by improper loading, overloading or bad weather, capsizing is the No. 1 cause of boating accidents, according to NARD, or the National Association of Rescue Divers.
  • Passengers falling overboard, which is the No. 2 cause of fatal boating accidents, according to NARD. This often is due to unstable footing or due to sitting in an unsafe place on a boat, especially during turns.
  • Boats swamping, when the boat is upright but fills with water.
  • Boat drivers being drunk, which often occurs at the end of a long boat ride and can lead to risky maneuvers which lead to a crash.
Many of these causes and types of boating accidents result in drownings. Indeed, nearly three-fourths of all boating deaths are drownings, and of those victims, 90 per cent were not  wearing a life jacket.

How to Prevent Boating Accidents

In order to prevent boating accidents, some simple safety procedures should be followed. These include:

  • Ensure that everyone on the boat is wearing a life jacket.
  • Ensure that the boat is not overloaded, and when it is loaded, try to keep the load, including passengers, balanced throughout the boat. Also avoid dropping anchor in the rear of a boat which already is heavy due to an outboard motor. Instead, secure the anchor to the bow, or front of the boat, not the stern, or rear of the boat.
  • Don’t let anyone sit on areas not clearly designated for seating. That includes the front and rear of the boat. Also don’t let anyone stand or move around the boat while it is moving.
  • Be careful to slow down before turning a boat.
  • Be wary of bad weather and rough water.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption while driving a boat, just as you would when driving a car.

Boating Accident Lawsuit

If someone in your family was killed or injured in a boating accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may need a boating accident lawsuit to protect your legal rights.

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