Earlier this year, on Lake Lanier, a jet skier was killed when he collided with a bass boat around 8:30 p.m. The boat operator was not hurt, but the body of the skier was missing for two days. It appears he drowned and implications are that he was not wearing a life-jacket.
More recently, an Atlanta man was involved in a fatal boating accident on Lake Blue Ridge. The man is charged with operating a boat while intoxicated and homicide by vessel, among other criminal charges. The boat operator was towing two people on inner tubes behind his boat when the tubes hit the shore. One person was killed and the other one airlifted with serious injuries.
Unfortunately, these are only two examples of many such accidents that happen in Georgia every year. Now that boating season is here, the dangers increase. According to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), more boating accidents occur in July than any other month, followed closely by June with August coming in a close third.
Georgians really need to take notice. The number of boating accidents and resulting deaths and injuries are increasing. In 2012 in Georgia, there were eight reportable accidents and four deaths with eight injuries. In 2016, there were 12 reportable accidents, seven deaths and seven injuries. There may have been more accidents, deaths and injuries that were not required to be reported under the National Recreational Boating Safety Program. Knowing the main causes of accidents can go a long way in preventing them.
Main Causes of Boating Accidents and How to Prevent Them
- Alcohol impaired boat operator – Out of the 4,463 boating accidents that occurred in the U.S. in 2016, alcohol was the leading contributing factor in fatal boat accidents. In Georgia, the same laws that apply to drunk driving apply to drunk boat operating. A blood alcohol content (BAC) of over 0.08 percent will result in a citation and suspension of boat operating privileges until certain conditions are met. The solution is simple: Do not drink and operate a boat. If you are on a boat where the operator is drinking, insist he or she stop. If the operator is unwilling to stop drinking, you should get off of the boat.
- Not wearing a life vest – The cause of death in 80 percent of all fatal boating accidents was drowning. Out of those, 83 percent of the victims were not wearing a life vest. Solution: Everyone on board the vessel must wear a life jacket.
- Lack of operating instruction by the boat operator – Where the USCG was able to determine the amount of instruction received by the boat operator prior to taking the helm, it determined that 77 percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received no instruction as opposed to only 13 percent of deaths on vessels where the operator had received adequate instruction. Solution: Before voluntarily boarding a boat for a day of fun in the sun, check with the operator as to the amount of education he or she has had in operating the vessel.
- Operator inattention, inexperience and improper lookout – This is particularly important if you expect to be water skiing, wakeboarding or being pulled on an inner tube behind the boat. In 2016 in the U.S., there were 171 accidents where at least one person was hit by a propeller due to one of these factors, resulting in 175 injuries and 24 deaths. Solution: Designate someone you trust to be a lookout when you are being pulled behind the boat.
- Excessive speed – This really needs no explanation. It is the same risk on water as it is on land. Solution: Ask the boat operator to slow down.
As you can see, almost all boating accidents are the result of someone’s negligence. If you were injured, the negligent person may be held liable under the law and be required to pay for your damages, including your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, compensation for any permanent loss and other damages you may have suffered.
Georgia Trial Attorneys Offer a Free Consultation
No matter how careful you might be, accidents happen. If you were injured in a boating accident, or someone you love was killed, you may be entitled to damages. Georgia Trial Attorneys at Kirchen & Grant have decades of experience in pursuing damages for their injured clients. They pride themselves on aggressively pursuing the rights of their clients. Contact them as soon as possible for a free consultation.