What Is The Most Common Cause Of Boating Accidents?

February 4, 2024

By Promoting Justice

Although boating accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, there are some causes of these boating crashes that are more common than others. If you or a family member suffered harm in a boating incident in Vermont, New Hampshire, or Florida, contact Shillen Mackall Seldon & Spicer by calling (802) 457-4848 to learn more about your legal options. 

What Qualifies as a Boating Accident?

Boating accidents involve any incident where a watercraft experiences fire onboard, collides with another vessel or obstruction, or capsizes. These accidents tend to result in significant property damage, severe injuries, missing individuals, boat loss, and even death. 

These boating crashes also include the following situations: 

  • Two boats crashing into one another
  • A passenger falling off a boat
  • A passenger departing the boat voluntarily and sustaining an injury
  • A boat capsizing
  • A person drowning
  • A fire or explosion on board the boat
  • An accident while towing another
  • The boat flooding
  • The boat crashing into a fixed object

If you or a loved one were injured in a boating accident in Vermont, New Hampshire, or Florida due to another person’s actions, whether they were reckless, negligent, or intentional, contact the law firm of Shillen Mackall Seldon & Spicer to learn more about boating accidents and the legal remedies you may be able to pursue.

Common Causes of Boating Accidents

Boating accidents can happen for many reasons, from operator error to hazardous water or weather conditions. While some causes may make it more difficult for the boat’s operator to remain in control, ultimately, they are often liable for anything that happens on the boat. 

Boat Operator Error or Inexperience

Regardless of the boat’s size, the boat operator is responsible for ensuring the safety of those on their own boat and those in the water. Consequently, negligence, inattention, or inexperience on the part of the operator can have grave consequences. 

Many boat operators, especially those new to operating these vessels, mistakenly believe that operating a boat is more manageable than driving a motor vehicle on land, and fail to take the necessary precautions or invest in education and training to operate it safely. Before driving a boat, operators need to understand the basics of boating, including boating laws, navigation rules, and what to do in an emergency. Unfortunately, inexperienced operators may not show proper respect for the weather or know what to do when obstacles arise, which can lead to situations that endanger themselves, the boat, and others.

Operating a Boat Under the Influence of Alcohol 

Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or other impairing substances is illegal. This can not only endanger your life but also the lives of others on the water. This is why it is crucial to maintain sobriety not only as a boat operator but also as a passenger, as being under the influence can increase the risk of accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol is known to reduce brain function, impair thinking, and reduce reasoning and muscle coordination, all abilities that are needed to operate a boat safely.

Operating a Boat at Excessive Speeds

Speeding is not only incredibly dangerous, but it can be fatal, just like when you are driving a car. In fact, one of the leading causes of accidents on the water is failure to observe the appropriate speeds on the water and rules of navigation. The National Safety Council states that speeding affects a person’s reaction time and ability to safely navigate through obstacles, including other boats, swimmers, and changes in the water’s surface and surroundings. 

Mechanical Issues or Boating Defects

Boat accidents due to mechanical failures or boating defects can lead to severe injuries or even death. These accidents are often caused by manufacturer defects or operator negligence. This can occur when the boat suddenly stops, fails to turn, hits an obstacle or another boat, sinks, or catches fire. Although some mechanical failures cannot be prevented, regular maintenance, proper manufacturing, and inspections can prevent others from happening.

Not Having a Proper Lookout on the Boat

Several factors demand your attention when operating a boat, such as swimmers, other boaters, and even submerged objects. However, not all of these are easy to spot, and therefore, it is crucial to be extremely cautious while on the water. Just because the water appears safe does not necessarily mean it is safe. That is why having an improper lookout is one of the most common causes of boating accidents.

Ideally, the best course of action is to have another person on board to help you spot any potential dangers. A driver’s primary responsibility is to manage the boat, and having a designated lookout can ease the burden of having to keep eyes on everything. A lookout can view the water from a different angle, spotting things that you might have missed otherwise.

Hazardous Waters

Dangerous waters can develop suddenly, often due to changes in tidal flows or the current. However, when these issues develop, they can make it more challenging to operate a boat safely. For these reasons, boat operators must stay mindful of the water conditions and know what actions to take if these conditions arise.

Poor Weather and Dangerous Conditions

When individuals fail to check the weather before they set off on their boat, it can lead to dangerous boating conditions. That is why, before taking off on a boating excursion, it is critical that the operator of the boat verify the weather and continue to monitor the situation as they are out on their trip.

What Is the Leading Cause of Boating Crashes?

The leading cause of boating crashes is often the result of a boating operator’s inexperience or inattention. When these boat operators are inexperienced or distracted, it can lead to devastating errors in judgment that can cause tragic accidents and debilitating injuries. 

Have You Been Injured in a Boating Accident?

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a boating accident or want to know more about common boating accidents and the legal remedies available after this tragic crash, contact Shillen Mackall Seldon & Spicer today by calling their legal team at (802) 457-4848. Their experienced personal injury attorneys have been fighting for their clients since 1980 and offering legal assistance to those who have been injured in accidents in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Florida. Contact them today to schedule a consultation to review your case.