Recreational Boating Safety Can Prevent Senseless Tragedies

The word “safety” causes many people to roll their eyes, especially when safety is viewed as something that takes the fun out of a recreational activity such as boating. But when lack of safety causes serious accidents such as three different boat crashes in Dennis, Massachusetts; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Lake of Ozarks, people need to take notice about safety on the water.

On Friday, July 21st, a boat carrying 6 passengers crashed into a jetty in the channel leading to the Northside Marina Sesuit Harbor in Dennis, Massachusetts.  Tragically, 17 year old girl, Sadie Mauro died as a result of the crash. The Massachusetts State Police and Environmental Police are investigating to determine cause.  The investigation will focus on whether the Operator was driving the boat while intoxicated to reckless operation of the boat.

On July 15th ,  a boat crash on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia injured 8 people.  The driver of the boat was driving under the influence of alcohol when the boat hit the bridge structure.  The driver has been charged with 8 counts from recklessly endangering another person, aggravated and simple assault, operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol to reckless operation of a watercraft.  Luckily, it was reported that there were minimal injuries.

On July 25th, 8 people were injured when a boat hit land and crashed into a house in the Lake of Ozarks.   The impact of the boat crashing into the ground caused the passengers to be thrown out of the boat and hit the ground.  The driver of the vessel was charge with driving while intoxicated causing serious physical injury.

The frequency and severity of boat crashes that have occurred in the month of July should be wake up call to boaters as to boating safety.   

What Does it Take to Stay Safe?

While people often feel that they can relax more when operating a boat than when driving a car on the road, the dangers on the water are just as great, if not greater. Safe boating requires focus, attention, and a commitment to know and follow the “rules of the road” for boating.

First and foremost, as when driving a car, don’t drink alcohol when operating a boat. In fact, it is not a good idea for passengers to drink either. Alcohol slows your reaction time and limits your ability to make observations and choose a safe course of action. A boat operator impaired by alcohol consumption can be charged with a criminal violation and is more likely to be held liable criminally and civilly for any harm suffered by passengers or others impacted by the operator’s actions.

Other Safety Factors

In addition to avoiding alcohol or other intoxicating substances, other safety measures to protect boaters on the water include:

  • Ensuring that an experienced, educated operator is always in charge.
  • Turning on appropriate lighting at night. This includes lights to make your vessel visible to others and lights that clearly illuminate where you are going. Collisions with stationary objects at night are all-too-common and often deadly.
  • Understanding the boat and your surroundings. Taking the time to become familiar with equipment and the potential hazards in the area can save a life.
  • Following the laws. Navigation rules and boating laws vary in different areas, so know what’s expected of you before you get out on the water.
  • Designating a lookout person to keep an eye on passengers, water skiers, and other boaters
  • Carrying proper safety equipment including operating radios, charged phones, flares, air horns, floatation devices, extra water, and first aid gear.
  • Sharing plans with others and carrying emergency contact numbers
  • Checking weather forecasts and keeping an eye on conditions, which can change with frightening speed

Overall, it is important to be aware of the numerous potential hazards you face when boating, and always be watchful of the danger and prepared to act responsibly to minimize risks.

Help When Irresponsible Behavior on the Water Causes Injuries

When you follow safe boating practices and keep an eye open for others who may not be acting responsibly, you can prevent many accidents and injuries. However, sometimes, even your attention and evasive actions cannot save you from the illegal and irresponsible actions of others.

When those actions result in injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses, if you can demonstrate how another person’s negligence caused those losses. That’s where we come in.

The experienced team at Latti & Anderson LLP has decades of experience helping those injured on the water recover damages to help them overcome the harm they have endured. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a boating accident that could have been caused by the negligence of another, we can explain your options for recovery.