Many D.C. residents enjoy the recreational activities that the surrounding waterways provide. There are many lakes, rivers, and bays within a short drive from Washington D.C. where people can paddle in kayaks, take a chartered fishing trip, go waterskiing, or simply enjoy a summer day on the water. However, just like driving a car or riding a bike, boaters have to take safety precautions to avoid serious injuries or death while boating.
Boating may seem like a harmless recreational activity; however, every year, thousands of people are injured or killed while boating. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2015 there were 4,158 recreational boating accidents costing over $40 million dollars in damage. Over 2,600 people were injured in those accidents and 626 people died. The fatality rate was up over the previous year, with 5.3 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vehicles.
Causes of Boating Accidents
Boating accidents can be caused by any number of things. According to the Coast Guard, alcohol is the number one contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Operator inattention, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and improper lookout are also contributing factors in fatal accidents. Other causes of boating accidents may include drug use, navigation rules violations, restricted vision, or making sharp turns.
Some of the most common boating accidents occur when two boats collide with one another. One or both of the operators may not be following the right of way rules, passing too closely, or operating at excessive speed. This may lead to collisions resulting in serious injury for the occupants of both vessels.
Other common accidents involve a boat striking a fixed object or running aground. This is often caused by excessive speed, operator inattention, or the influence of alcohol. When a boat strikes an object such as a rock wall, dock, pier, or hits a submerged object, the boat can capsize or the hull may be breached, causing the boat to sink.
Not all boating accidents are caused by operator error. In some cases, equipment failure, machinery failure, or hull failure may result in injuries, including drowning. When boat owners do not keep up proper maintenance on their boat, they could be negligently putting a dangerous vessel out on the water. Weather, congested waters, or hazardous waters can also lead to boating accidents, even for the most experienced boating operators.
Boating Accident Injuries
When people are involved in a car accident, they may be able to walk away from the accident if they suffered a minor injury. In serious accidents, the injured occupants may be able to wait until emergency medical treatment arrives. However, with boating accidents, injured individuals do not have those advantages. Boating injuries can be more dangerous simply because the boat is in the water.
Drowning is the most common boating fatality. Where the cause of death was known, 75% of fatal boating accidents involved drowning. The majority of those drownings involved individuals who were not wearing floatation devices or life jackets. Other fatal boating accidents involved people getting struck by a propeller, getting hit by a passing boat, or falling off the boat and striking an object.
Boating accidents that do not result in death may cause serious injury to boaters and passengers. Some boating accidents result in broken bones, neck or back injury, head trauma, or internal injuries. Emergency treatment for these injuries may take longer than for automobile accidents because the injury occurred on the water or in a remote location. In some cases, delayed medical care can exacerbate injuries.
Individuals injured in a boating accident may be facing expensive medical bills, lost wages, permanent injury, pain and suffering. You should not have to suffer because of someone else's negligence. Those responsible for causing the accident should compensate you for your losses and your injuries. A personal injury attorney can file a claim for damages against the negligent boat operator, boat owner, or boat manufacturer.
Boat Accident Lawyers in Washington D.C.
If you or a loved one was injured in a boating accident, you should talk to an experienced DC personal injury attorney about getting compensation for your injuries. If a loved one drowned in a boating accident, you may be able to seek compensation for your family's pain and suffering through a wrongful death lawsuit. Your attorney will help guide you through the difficult process so you can focus on healing. You should not have to suffer due to someone else's negligence. Do not hesitate to call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.