ADMIRALTY / MARITIME LAW

Boating accidents lead to severe injuries and fatalities

| May 28, 2020 | Maritime Law |

Living along beautiful waterways, bayous and a nearby ocean proves enticing to the people who make the Gulf region of New Orleans their home. The result is that so many leisure activities – including recreational boating and diving — are available. However, accidents involving these two activities are not uncommon. Boats collide, personal watercraft overturn and diving mishaps occur.

The result of any of these accidents can lead to serious and catastrophic injuries. They also can prove fatal. Severe injury and tragedy are not what you expected on a recreational boat or diving venture with friends and family. Now you likely face expensive medical bills, weeks of pain and suffering, while wondering how you can pay the bills because you no longer can work.

Operator inattention, no life jacket

In its 2018 Recreational Boat Statistics report, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that more than 2,500 people were injured and 633 people died in the 4,145 boating accidents that year. In Louisiana, boating accidents and fatalities have declined since 2016. For 2018, a total of 95 boating accidents were reported leading to 19 deaths.

Here are other findings from the report:

  • The top contributing factors in such accidents were operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, machinery failure and excessive speed.
  • The top five types of accidents were collisions with recreational vessels, collisions with a fixed object, flooding/swamping, grounding and falls overboard.
  • A total of 74% of the deaths took place on boats in which the operator did not receive boating-related safety instruction.
  • The water vessels with the highest percentage of death rates were open motorboats (50%), kayaks (13.5%) and canoes (7%).
  • A total of 77% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those who died, the vast majority – 84% – were not wearing a life jacket.

People continue to enjoy recreational boating and diving. As long as they adhere to the safety aspects of these activities, they likely will enjoy them even more.