What to Do After a Boating Accident

Personal Injury Lawyer

One of the factors that keep residents and draw visitors to Iowa is the vast variety of recreational activities that the area has to offer. One of those beloved activities involves heading to the nearest lake or river for waterskiing, fishing, boating, or just enjoying warm weather. 

Unfortunately, too many people forget that a motorized boat is just as powerful as a vehicle, and can boating accidents can cause the same type of injury and even death. They sometimes get too caught up in the fun that boating offers and forget about taking the necessary steps to keep themselves and others safe.

According to data provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, there are approximately 5000 boating accidents in the U.S. each year. These accidents are responsible for more than 600 deaths every year and another 3,000 injured victims. Boating accidents cause more than $45 million in property damage each year.

There are many reasons why boating accidents occur including inexperience of the boat operator, operator inattention, excessive speed, and improper lookout. One of the most common reasons is also one of the most avoidable — boating under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In fact, alcohol is a factor in about 20 percent of fatal boating accidents.

A person operating a boat is considered legally drunk if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 percent or over, just as it is for operating vehicles on the road.

Many states now have mandatory boating education laws. While these laws vary from state to state, they generally are geared for anyone who will be operating a motorboat over a certain horsepower. Without that education certificate, the person is not allowed to operate a recreational boat.

Typically, a recreational boat is considered one of the following:

  • Cabin cruisers
  • Canoes
  • Center console runabouts
  • Inflatable and semi-rigid inflatable boats
  • Kayaks
  • Paddleboards
  • Personal watercraft (jet skis and wave runners)
  • Pontoons
  • Sailboats
  • Tenders
  • Yachts

When a Boating Accident Occurs

If you are in a boating accident, it is imperative to take certain steps:

Make sure you and your passengers are all safe

  • If a passenger has fallen in the water, it is critical to stay calm. Toss them a life vest, approach them slowly with the boat, and then cut the engine while the passenger climbs back in the boat.
  • While each state has its own boating laws, most of these laws are very similar. These laws establish when a boating accident is required to be reported. If any of the following apply to your boating accident, the proper marine law enforcement authorities will need to be notified:
  • If a victim is injured or dies
  • If there is an emergency that requires urgent medical attention
  • If a victim disappears (and it is believed they are injured or dead)
  • If the watercraft is totally damaged and cannot be repaired
  • If there has been property damage of $2,000 or more

Boating accidents are the same as vehicle accidents when it comes to accidents and obtaining other boat operators’ information. Make sure to obtain their:

  • Name
  • Address and phone number
  • Insurance information
  • Boat registration number/hull ID

And just like a vehicle accident, if a boat owner has been in an accident, they must report this to the insurance company that carries the liability insurance on the vessel. This needs to be done no matter who was at fault for the boating accident.

If you find yourself in a boating accident and have been injured it’s important to speak with an experienced Personal Injury Lawyer, Iowa from a law firm like Johnston Martineau, LLP. A boat injury lawyer will help evaluate your situation and advise you on how to proceed.