When you step foot onto a boat for a day of fun at the lake, you’re probably not picturing the fun ending with a serious accident. But that’s what happens for thousands of people in the U.S. every year.
In 2019, there were more than 600 boating-related fatalities nationwide and approaching 2,600 injuries after boating accidents.
If you or someone you love are now included in boat accident statistics like those, you need a lawyer to protect your rights to compensation after your accident. Without one, it may be difficult for you to get the compensation you need for things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
What Causes Boat Accidents?
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, negligence plays a role in most boating accidents. Types of behavior that negligent boaters display includes:
- Inattention—Driving a boat requires constant vigilance and unwavering focus. Drivers need to be aware of the weather and water conditions, buoys, shorelines, other boaters and watercraft, and more.
- Operator inexperience—70% of boat fatalities occur on boats where the operator hasn’t received boating safety instruction. Although boats are marketed as recreational vehicles, they aren’t toys, and they require experience and training to drive safely, even on calm water.
- Excessive speed—It can be tempting for boaters to open the throttle on wide-open waters. But driving at high speeds makes boats more difficult to control, and boats can quickly exceed recommended speeds without notice depending on water conditions and the drivers’ experience levels.
- Alcohol consumption—Intoxication was a contributing factor in nearly 25% of all fatal boating accidents in 2019. For many people, boating and alcohol go hand-in-hand, but boating while intoxicated is both against the law in Oklahoma and extremely dangerous, especially when the boat operator is inexperienced or hasn’t driven a boat before.
When boat accidents occur, victims are at risk of injuries and death both during the collision and when they’re in the water. In fact, the cause of death for nearly 80% of people who die in boating accidents is drowning, making it essential for boaters to have enough life jackets for everyone on board.
At Parrish DeVaughn, our Oklahoma boating accident lawyers look for these signs of negligence when building boat accidents claims, and we use them to prove fault and help our clients get the money they’re owed for their injuries or loss.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Boat Accident?
Four different parties have the potential to be held liable after a boat accident:
- The driver of the boat where the injury occurred—If you get injured on a boat and the driver was negligent due to any of the reasons listed above, you may be eligible to file a compensation claim against them. Many injury-causing boat accidents are single-vehicle accidents where only the driver is at fault.
- The driver of another boat or watercraft—Sometimes boats collide with other boats or watercraft. This can happen when boaters aren’t paying attention, are intoxicated, or are inexperienced. Just as if the collision was on land, the negligent boater can be held liable.
- A negligent or unruly passenger—Because boats are often host to party-like atmospheres, it’s not uncommon for a passenger to become inebriated or otherwise unruly onboard. When that happens, they can distract drivers or engage in behaviors that can contribute to or cause a collision.
- A boat owner—You wouldn’t drive a car with flat tires or damaged brakes. It’s even more important that a boat is safe and well-maintained. If a boat isn’t seaworthy, it puts its occupants at risk of serious injuries and even drowning due to capsizing, sinking, or malfunctioning.
In some cases, multiple parties may be held liable after a boating accident. When you call our law firm, we’ll review all the evidence to find out who was at fault. Then, we’ll work hard to get maximum compensation from those parties so you don’t have to pay out of pocket for a collision that wasn’t your fault.
We’re Your Oklahoma Boating Accident Lawyers
Don’t be a victim twice after a fun day on the water turns tragic. Let our legal team help you get the compensation you deserve after your boating accident. Contact us today for a free consultation.