Maritime Law Overview
Seaman's Information Regarding Maritime Injury
While on the water, people find themselves in situations that could end in accident or injury.
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Recreational boating is a great way to have fun and to relax but it is not without significant risk. The United States Coast Guard reports that there were 5191 reported recreational boating accidents in the United States in 2007. Those 5191 accidents resulted in 685 fatalities, 3673 injuries and more than 53 million dollars in damages. The 2007 statistics were similar to the statistics for previous years.
The statistics of recreational boating accident fatalities are startling. More than two thirds of the fatalities occurred by drowning and more than 90 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets. 86 percent of the deaths resulted on boats where the boat driver had not received boating safety instruction.
Causes of Recreational Boating Accidents
The behaviors of the boat operator and passengers are by far the leading causes of death and injury in recreational boating accidents in this country. The primary leading contributor to recreational boating accidents in 2007 was operator inattention. Operator inattention was followed by careless/reckless operation, passenger behavior, excessive speed, alcohol use, failure to have a proper lookout, boat operator inexperience, machinery failure, weather and, equipment failure as reasons for recreational boating accidents.
Those same factors were the leading causes of recreational boating fatalities in 2007. However, alcohol was by far the leading cause of accidents that resulted in recreational boating fatalities.
Don't Let an Afternoon on the Water Turn Tragic
Both boat operators and passengers have a responsibility to stay safe on the water. Boat owners and operators should take appropriate boating safety classes. They must be attentive to water conditions, weather conditions and the risks of boat collisions and groundings. If they do not take these precautions then their actions may result in the death or injury of their passengers or themselves. Also, they may be subject to law suits for their negligent operation of their vessel.
In order to stay safe, all passengers, especially children, should wear life jackets. Waves, currents and water temperature can make it very difficult to survive in the open water. Life preservers, such as life jackets, have proven to be very effective in saving lives.
It is important to remember that driving a boat is like driving a car. Boat operators have the responsibility to follow all maritime rules and to exercise a reasonable degree of care. If they do not then tragedy can result and lives can be lost.