By the time June rolls around, summer is in full swing and people have their boats, personal watercraft, surf boards, and inner tubes ready to go. When it is a beautiful, sunny weekend, there is nowhere you would rather be than on the local lake or Atlantic Ocean. If it is a long weekend, you rent a house on the beach and bring plenty of sunscreen.
But every year, in the midst of people enjoying boating and other water sports, people get hurt or die. Sometimes the incidents are unavoidable. But in many situations, the injuries or fatalities are completely avoidable. Boating safety is the key to preventing anyone getting hurt.
North Carolina Boating Accidents and Fatalities
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission reported there were 166 boating accidents in the state in 2015, up from 130 accidents the year before. While the number of accidents increased a significant amount, the number of registered vessels actually decreased from 2014 to 2015 by more than 5,000 vessels.
The number of fatal boating accidents was 21 in 2015 compared to 23 in 2014. Both of these are an increase from the 17 fatal accidents in 2013, but are not above a long-term average. North Carolina consistently sees more than 20 deadly boating accidents each year.
In the 21 fatal accidents last year, there were 25 deaths. Of these deaths, 10 were affected by alcohol.
Of the non-fatal boating accidents, 90 people were injured and required medical attention.
Causes & Types of Boating Accidents
While there are a number of issues that can arise on the water and cause an accident, certain frequent types and causes of incidents can be pinpointed.
- Collisions with fixed objects or vessels: Just like with cars, boats can run into objects or other vessels. North Carolina ranked these as the second and third most common types of fatal accident in 2015.
- Improper lookout: Whoever is in charge of the vessel needs to keep a proper lookout for other boats, personal watercraft, swimmers, large waves, and the weather. Without doing so, the risk of an accident increases significantly.
- Capsizing: This is where a boat turns on its side or completely over. There are numerous reasons boats capsize, including improper anchoring. Every year this type of incident causes injuries and deaths.
- Swamping: This is when a boat fills with water. This can lead to people falling overboard or drowning.
- Someone falls or jumps overboard: People often fall overboard because of sitting on the sideboards, not holding on to rails when walking around, or standing by an edge during a sharp or fast turn. People can also jump overboard when they should not. North Carolina ranked this is the most common type of fatal accident in 2015.
Common Boating Accident Injuries
Boating accidents often cause certain injuries that can range in severity, including:
- Concussions or other TBI;
- Broken bones;
- Amputation injuries;
- Heat stroke;
- Blood loss; and
- Oxygen deprivation.
Boating Safety Tips
There is no reason why you and your family and friends should not be able to enjoy a day on the lake or ocean. All it takes is keeping a well-maintained boat, following the rules of water, and making safety a priority. Certain key safety tips are:
- Do not drink and drive: Alcohol does not mix with any sort of vehicle. It dulls a person’s reflexes, alters their perception of distance and speed, and makes it impossible for them to safely operate a vehicle. It is a significant factor in non-fatal and fatal boating accidents.
- Do not speed: In most situations, you are sharing the water with other people and vessels. Going too fast can make it impossible to avoid accidents and increases the chance of someone falling overboard.
- Keep a proper lookout: Maintain a vigilant watch for other vessels and people on the water. You may also have to keep an eye on choppy waters and large waves. This is the best way to avoid a collision, which is a leading cause of injury and deaths on the water.
- Slow down on the turns: Unexpected, sharp, and fast turns are where people go over. Slow down and make sure everyone’s properly seated before turning.
- Maintain proper lights: Many accidents happen at dusk, when people have had a long day on the water. Make sure you have the proper lights on your boat to be able to see around you and get back to the dock safely.
- Have a life jacket for everyone on board: Life jackets save lives. If you encounter a problem, begin to take on water, or believe you are going to capsize, everyone needs to be able to quickly retrieve a life jacket.
- Maintain a proper weight: Boats can only carry so many people plus equipment. Make sure you do not overload your vessel.
Boating Accident Personal Injury Claims
If someone is hurt in a boating accident, they may have a personal injury claim against the driver of the boat they were on or another vessel that caused the accident. Injuries from boating accidents can be treated like injuries from car accidents. The victim can seek to recover their current and future medical expenses, disability and disfigurement, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If the victim can prove that the operator of the vessel was not old enough or had not completed a boating education course in order to obtain a license, then they have a greater likelihood of proving the operator was negligent. The victim may also be able to prove the operator was negligent by going too fast for the conditions, failed to maintain a proper lookout for objects and other vessels, or was inebriated at the time of the accident.
Call a Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer for Help
If you were hurt in a boating accident in North Carolina, do not hesitate to ask for help in dealing with the situation. You will need to find out if the operator or owner of the vessel had insurance. If they did, your experienced Charlotte NC personal injury attorney can help you file a claim with the insurer. If there was no insurance coverage, your lawyer can help you determine if filing suit against the negligent party is your best course of action. To schedule a free case consultation to learn more about what to do after a North Carolina boating accident, contact the law firm of Ted A. Greve & Associates P.A. today.