Boating Accidents and Injuries
Featuring over 7,500 miles of coastline and many well-known waterways such as the Mississippi River, the Sabine River, the Toledo Bend Reservoir, the Red River, the Atchafalaya Basin, and Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana is bursting with opportunities to spend time on the water. Here in Sportsman’s Paradise, boats are widely used for fishing and wildlife viewing. Boats are also popular for recreational activities like spending time with loved ones, water skiing, swimming, sightseeing, sailing, sunbathing, and tubing. However, boating can be very dangerous.
The latest Recreational Boating Statistics report released by the U.S. Coast Guard shows that there were 4,463 boating accidents nationwide in 2016, resulting in 701 deaths and a fatality rate of 5.9 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels (a 11.3 percent increase over 2015). These accidents also caused 2,903 injuries and damaged property to the tune of approximately $49 million. Almost half of the vessels involved in the accidents were open motorboats, followed by personal watercraft, cabin motorboats, canoes/kayaks, and pontoon boats. The top five primary accident types were collision with a recreational vessel, collision with a fixed object, flooding/swamping, grounding, and capsizing.
Just a quick glance at recent headlines from around the state shows that the risk is everywhere:
Two children injured in boating accident (near McGee’s Landing in Henderson, 5/14/17)
Young teen missing in Caddo Lake after aluminum boat capsizes (5/6/17).
Boating accidents are very similar to car accidents in that operator carelessness or recklessness is the cause of most accidents and fatalities. According to the Coast Guard report, the top ten primary contributing factors to boating accidents nationwide in 2016 were:
- Operator inattention
- Operator experience
- Improper lookout
- Excessive speed
- Machinery failure
- Alcohol use
- Violating navigation rules
- Hazardous waters
- Force of wave/wake.
Similar to driving a vehicle, maneuvering a watercraft safely requires an attentive operator. Alcohol can affect a host of critical skills, including vision, judgment, coordination, and reaction time. In fact, it is listed as a contributing factor in 15 percent of all boat fatalities. Officials are always on the lookout for impaired boaters, which can result in charges that carry jail time, steep fines, and loss of privileges.
With accidents happening every day in communities throughout Louisiana, it’s important that boaters periodically review proper procedures and take all the necessary steps to keep everyone safe on the water. At a minimum, everyone on board should always be wearing a life jacket and be prepared for emergencies, and the boat should be properly outfitted with functioning equipment. Drivers should keep a sharp lookout for other watercraft and stationary obstacles, should file a float plan with a friend before leaving shore, and should consider wearing a kill switch.
Accidents happen fast and when least expected. If you’ve been injured by a negligent boater, are the survivor of a someone who was killed by a careless boat operator, or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more from experienced Louisiana water accident attorney Chris Roy Jr, founder of the Chris J. Roy, Jr. Law Firm. Having practiced law for nearly 30 years, he takes pride in helping accident victims in Alexandria, Pineville, Rapides Parish, Grant Parish, Avoyelles Parish, Allen Parish, Vernon Parish, and throughout Central Louisiana. Benefit from his assistance and knowledge by contacting the firm for a free initial consultation. Call 1-318-487-9537 to get help today.