Frequently Asked Questions
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Boating Accidents

  1. What is a "boating accident"?
  2. What types of boats are typically involved in watercraft accidents?
  3. What types of injuries occur in watercraft accidents?
  4. Can the driver of a boat who acts in an irresponsible unsafe manner be held liable for causing an accident?
  5. What are some safety measures that can help prevent injuries and deaths from boating accidents?
  6. What are the common causes of boating injuries and fatalities?
  7. What are the common boating accident contributing factors?
  8. When must a boating accident report be filed?
  9. What is the Statutes of Limitations for boating accidents?
  10. Should I contact an attorney if I have been injured in a boating accident?

Questions & Answers

What is a "boating accident"?
Answer:
According to the United States Coast Guard, a boating accident occurs when one of the following scenarios transpires:
1. A person on a boat dies or becomes injured beyond the help of first aid.
2. A person on a boat disappears and death or injury is suspected.
3. A vessel causes or sustains damage.

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What types of boats are typically involved in watercraft accidents?
Answer:
Most typically, powerboats such as runabouts or cabin cruisers are involved. However, another frequent source of watercraft accidents involve personal watercraft, also known as “jet skis.” Sailboats are less frequently involved.

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What types of injuries occur in watercraft accidents?
Answer:
The most frequent sources of injuries are propeller injuries and collisions. Because personal watercraft or “jet skis” can’t be steered when the throttle is released, inexperienced drivers often have collision when confronted with an emergency. Death can occur either from a collision or from a person falling over the side and drowning.

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Can the driver of a boat who acts in an irresponsible unsafe manner be held liable for causing an accident?
Answer:
Yes, boating rules require safe operation of a boat, and prescribe how boats should pass one another and the use of proper safety equipment. If a driver violates these rules, they may be held liable for any injuries or death that results.

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What are some safety measures that can help prevent injuries and deaths from boating accidents?
Answer:
1. Wear a life jacket. Drowning from a boat capsizing or the person falling from the boat causes over half of all   recreational boating fatalities each year.
2. Don’t consume alcohol while driving a boat. 
3. Take boating safety courses. 
4. Be alert to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Any time you are below decks in a confined space, carbon monoxide poisoning can occur.

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What are the common causes of boating injuries and fatalities?
Answer:
1. Carelessness or inexperience of the boat operator, such as excessive speed, or failing to keep a proper lookout. 
2. Alcohol consumption by the operator of the boat. 
3. Weather

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What are the common boating accident contributing factors?
Answer:
1. Operator inattention, inexperience, excessive speed, and careless or reckless operation
2. Alcohol
3. Passenger/skier behavior
4. Not having a proper lookout
5. Restricted vision
6. Hazardous waters- weather
7. Equipment failure
8. Engine failure

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When must a boating accident report be filed?
Answer:
A causality or accident report must be submitted to the reporting authority if any of the following occurs:
1. A person dies
2. A person disappears under circumstances that indicate death or injury
3. A person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid
4. Damage to the vessel and property is greater than $500
5. Complete loss of vessel

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What is the Statutes of Limitations for boating accidents?
Answer:
This depends upon where the accident occurred and whether it is subject to Federal Maritime law or state laws. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible so that any Statute of Limitations does not expire and prevent a recovery.

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Should I contact an attorney if I have been injured in a boating accident?
Answer:
Definitely yes. Not only can the attorney quickly determine the facts, but can also preserve evidence that may be critical to determining why a watercraft accident occurred.

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