Summer boating season is not too far away, and that means lazy days spent fishing, water skiing or just plain floating down a local river or the Delta. But as carefree as these summer days may seem, boating has the potential to cause serious accidents. The California State Parks’ Division of Boating and Waterways reports that in 2013, there were a total of 531 boating accidents on California waterways. These boating accidents caused 272 personal injuries, 38 fatalities and more than $2.4 million in property damage.
Before heading out on the water this summer, here are some tips to decrease the potential for accidents.
- Watch your speed. Twenty percent of all boating accidents were caused by excessive speed. Just like roadways, certain areas on the water, particularly those close to shore, have posted speed limits that all boaters must follow. Even in areas with no speed limit, use common sense. Just like excessive speed in an automobile can cause the driver to lose control, driving the boat too fast can cause it to careen out of control.
- Eyes on the water. Another 20% of all accidents were caused by driver inattention. The rules of the road apply to the water – keep your eyes on where you’re going, and not your cell phone, a book or any other distraction.
- Brush up on boating safety. You don’t need a license to boat, but that doesn’t mean operating a boat is easy. Enroll in a boating safety course. There are in-person and online options available.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol impairs your judgment and ability to control the boat. You’re twice as likely to be in a boating accident while under the influence of alcohol. Boating while intoxicated can also lead to criminal charges.
- Get a vessel safety check. Boats need regular maintenance, too. The U.S. Coast Guard provides boaters with a free vessel safety check. Just find your local field office and call to schedule an appointment.
- Always wear a life jacket. The majority of drowning accidents involve boat passengers not wearing a life jacket. The boat should have one life jacket for every person on the boat, whether the passengers know how to swim or not. And make sure you have the right type and right sizes, as well.
- Make a boating safety plan before you leave. Before heading out, check the weather and make sure that somebody knows where you’re going and when you plan to be back. Even a few hours can mean the difference between life and death if your boat capsizes, is shipwrecked or veers off course.
Contact an attorney for legal advice
If your summer boating season is cut short due to the injury to yourself or death of a loved one, you may have a claim for personal injury or wrongful death. The attorneys at Appel Law Firm LLP have more than 60 years’ combined experience seeking recovery for those injured or killed in boating or other water related accidents. Our personalized service has helped thousands of Bay Area residents recover monetary compensation for their injuries. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.