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What Are The Most Common Causes Of Boating Accidents?

Numerous boat crashes occur annually, and although various factors contribute, most collisions share similar traits and could have been avoided if the operator had taken additional precautions. The most prevalent reasons for recreational boating accidents include:

Operator Inattention

The United States Coast Guard states that operator inattention is the leading contributing factor in boating accidents. Operators must prioritize safety while on the water. Even though boating with friends and family is associated with fun, it's crucial to remain alert to the surroundings whenever the boat is in motion.

Operator Inexperience

Boat operators must be familiar not only with the relevant laws for operating a boat but also with the specifics of the vessel they intend to use on the water. Taking a boater education course is an excellent first step toward gaining experience and understanding how to operate a boat safely. Completing the course not only provides an awareness of all the rules and regulations for boating, but it also saves money on insurance.

Improper Lookout

This involves both failing to appoint a lookout and the appointed lookout not keeping a close eye on the boat's surroundings, which includes being aware of shoaling areas, abnormal tides, powerlines, and pilings. If anyone in the party is participating in water sports such as waterskiing, tubing, or wakeboarding, it's critical that the lookout properly alert any surrounding boats that there is someone in the water.

Reckless Actions by Drivers, Passengers, or Skiers

Reckless behavior by anyone onboard a boat can result in severe consequences. Overloading the boat with too many people can lead to capsizing in extreme cases. People falling overboard is the second leading cause of fatal boating accidents, so it's important that everyone exercises good judgement while spending time on the water.

Improper Maintenance

Like any other vehicle, boats require regular maintenance. Failure to maintain the boat properly can lead to crashes or capsizing. Issues with the engine or steering can cause significant injuries, and not having the appropriate equipment onboard, such as life preservers, navigation lights, or flares, can exacerbate an already problematic situation.

Equipment Failure

Manufacturers have a responsibility to guarantee that their products are safe for regular use, and if a product is flawed or poses a danger, various laws obligate manufacturers to meet a "strict liability" standard for any resulting injuries. Unlike negligence or intent to harm, this standard does not require a plaintiff to prove such elements. Rather, the law allows an injured person to seek compensation by demonstrating that a manufacturer breached its duty.


Although an open body of water may appear to be the ideal place to test a boat's speed, slower speeds make it easier to see other boats, hazards, and obstacles. Exceeding the speed limit often causes capsizing, falls overboard, and severe bodily injuries to the parties involved. Boaters must heavily reduce their speed when in close proximity to the coastline or anchored vessels, as required by law. These rules are in place for the safety of everyone and must be followed at all times.

Alcohol Use

Boaters and drivers are subject to the same blood alcohol content (BAC) laws. Operating a boat with a BAC of greater than 0.08 is a criminal offense. It's common for people to consume alcohol while boating with beers, but just because it's a different type of vehicle than a car doesn't exempt the driver from drunk driving laws.

Poor and hazardous weather conditions

Although boating is a popular summer activity, it is also the time when the majority of boating accidents happen, particularly among tourists. Additionally, inclement weather conditions, such as strong winds, can create hazardous waters, and venturing out in such conditions can be perilous, especially for inexperienced operators. Going out in poor weather conditions increases the likelihood of a boating accident.

Consult With An Attorney If You Were Involved In A Boating Accident

To prevent accidents and reduce the risk of boating tragedies, it is crucial to take precautions seriously and have a good understanding of your planned activities. Whether you are an experienced or novice boater, being aware of safety regulations and boating laws can be a lifesaver. Many states provide helpful resources and information to boaters to avoid accidents. Paying attention to small details such as speed limits in no-wake zones, checking weather reports before boating, sharing safety tips with passengers, and ensuring your vessel is suitable for water use are all useful in preventing accidents.

In the event of a boating accident, the responsible party can generally be held liable for their negligence. A maritime attorney can assist you in determining which laws were violated and what compensation can be sought to cover injuries. Hiring the best maritime attorney can help navigate the complicated legal process and provide reassurance that you are in capable hands. If you or someone you know has been involved in a boating accident that turned a fun day on the water into a tragedy, do not despair. Our team of personal injury attorneys at Sneed & Mitchell LLP is available to assist with any legal issues that require professional assistance. Contact us for a free case evaluation today!


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Jordan Still033-Edit- WEB VERSION Chris
Personal Injury Case Manager
Personal Injury Receptionist
Attorney Niles Sneed - Personal Injury Lawyer
Attorney Brit Mitchell - Personal Injury Lawye




Premises Liability Settlement

August 2023


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