If you look out into the bay during a San Francisco summer, you'll see countless types of boats parading through the water. Whether it's fishing, sport, or just a leisurely cruise, boating is a popular summer activity in California. But boating also comes with risks and accidents can be especially dangerous. If you plan on being on a boat this summer, you'll need to follow a few safety tips and be prepared for the unexpected.
According to the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW), there were 488 boating accidents in California in 2017. Amongst those accidents, 242 injuries were reported and 53 people died. These numbers have gone down in the last decade (nearly 700 boatings accidents were reported in 2008), but boating remains an activity where careful behavior should be practiced.
Common Boating Accidents
Most boating accidents can be avoided as long as everyone is paying attention to their surroundings. If you overload one area of the boat (especially the stern), the weight won't be properly distributed and the risk of capsizing increases. Passengers in a capsized boat might be tempted to swim to shore, but DO NOT leave the boat. Swimming long distances is difficult without proper training and capsized boats can still float and be seen from aircraft.
Alcohol and bad weather are another unfortunate cause of boating accidents. Just like driving, operating a boat while intoxicated is illegal and penalties for it are stiff. According to the California Parks Department, the legal limit for boating is the same as driving and jail time is on the table for anyone caught. Accidents are also more common at dusk and during bad weather. If you plan on skippering a vessel, it's your responsibility to plan for the unexpected.
What Should I Do If I'm Injured While Boating?
The good news is that boating accidents are very similar to car accidents when it comes to procedures. You need proper insurance to own and operate a boat and necessary safety devices like life jackets must be on board at all times. If you've been in an accident, the first thing to do is check and see if anyone needs medical care. Call the authorities right away regardless of injury or damage.
Take detailed notes just like you would in a car accident. What was the weather like? How many people were on the other vessel? Is anyone on board intoxicated? These are all important facts that you'll want in the official accident report.
Comparative fault is used to determine liability in boating accidents and California uses the pure comparative fault method when figuring out who is responsible. If $100,000 is at stake in a personal injury claim and a judge finds one party 70% responsible, they'll be on the hook for $70,000 while the second party will need to contribute $30,000.
Boating accidents can be confusing, especially if you aren't an experienced water traveler. If you've been hurt on a boat due to someone else's negligence, contact Rush Injury Law right away and schedule a consultation.