Boating Accidents

From Broken Bones & Electrocutions to Brain Injuries & Drownings




According to the U.S Coast Guard’s 2012 Recreation Boating Statistics, there were 4515 accidents resulting from recreational boating in 2012. From those accidents, there were 651 deaths and 3000 injuries and approximately $38 million dollars in personal property damage. About seventy-one percent of the 651 fatalities were caused by drowning and of that figure; about eighty-five percent were not wearing a life-jacket.

The top five primary contributing factors in boating accidents were the following:  (1) operator inattention, (2) operator inexperience, (3) improper lookout, (4) machinery failure, and (5) excessive speed. Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in 17% of boating accident fatalities in 2012.

Alcohol consumption is one of the biggest contributing factors to boating accidents, especially ones that result in fatalities. The effects of alcohol can be much more pronounced in the operation of a vessel than they are in the operation of a motor vehicle. This is because, operation of a vessel entails more various stress factors, such as engine and water noise, sun, glare, vibration, wave action, wind, and  temperature. Such factors combined with the impairment caused by alcohol consumption can lead to disastrous results.  As mentioned above, alcohol consumption was the leading contributing factor in 17% of boating accident fatalities in 2012.


Under California state law, a boater is required to file a written report with the Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) if the accident results in any of the following: (a) Death, disappearance or injury requiring medical attention beyond first aid, (b) Damage to a vessel or other property exceeding $500; or (c) Complete loss of a vessel, regardless of value. If an accident involves a death occurring within 24 hours of the accident, a disappearance of a person or an injury beyond first aid, the accident report must be submitted to DBW within 48 hours of an accident.  However, if (a) a death occurred beyond 24hrs after an accident, (b) there was property damage beyond $500, or (c) there was a complete loss of a vessel, then state law requires submittal of a report within 10 days of the accident.  In addition to California requirements, there may also be federal requirements, restrictions and demands for accident reports.


● Medical Expenses

Moderate and serious injuries sustained in a boating accident can lead to considerable medical bills. For example, hospitalization at a trauma center for a head or neck injury can cost as much $100,000. An attorney dedicated to personal injury claims will help you recover the costs for any emergency room stay, surgery, doctors’ visits, diagnostic tests, rehabilitative therapy, and chiropractic care. You may be further entitled to the costs of future medical care, if your injuries require ongoing treatment.

● Pain and Suffering

Boating accidents may inflict many different injuries, whether they are temporary, longer-term, or permanent. The law allows for compensation for the pain and suffering in connection with such boating injuries, yet it does not provide a fixed formula to calculate that type of compensation. To recover the maximum amount that your injuries merit, one will need the help of a dedicated personal injury attorney who is equipped with the knowledge, resources and experience to best evaluate your claim.

● Loss of Wages

Time lost at work due to injuries inflicted by boating accidents can be significant and have serious ramifications on your finances and family responsibilities. If your boating accident injuries prevent you from working, then all your lost wages may be included in any claim for recovery against the negligent party and the liable carrier. Even if you used sick leave or vacation time during the recovery period, reimbursement may be available in your recovery. What if your injuries leave you permanently disabled and unable to work ever again? In conjunction with this firm’s experts, a personal injury lawyer can calculate your future losses and recover for your diminution in lifetime earning capacity.

● Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium is a cause of action that may be brought by a spouse of an injured party for loss or harm he or she suffered as a result of bodily injury caused to the injured spouse by the negligent party. Such a claim is available in a boating accident case.

● Wrongful Death

If a boating accident resulted in a fatality, then there may be a cause of action for wrongful death by the victim’s surviving relatives or dependents. In California, a wrongful death action arises for certain statutory outlined survivors of a decedent of an accident. The survivors who are entitled to bring a wrongful death claim include but are not limited to the decedent’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, or issue of deceased children.