When a relaxing day of boating comes crashing down around you
Boating and water sports play a big part in why many people love Florida. Whether you own a boat or know someone who does, you might look forward to getting out on the water whenever possible. Like many other people, you look forward to spending the day relaxing on the water, indulging in a few drinks and enjoying time with friends and family.
However, being out on the water often lulls people into a false sense of security. What began as a relaxing day on the boat could come crashing to a halt if an accident occurs. Each year, numerous families lose loved ones, and innocent people suffer catastrophic injuries in boating accidents.
Common causes of boating accidents
When you get a license to drive a car, you understand that operating a motor vehicle on the roadways requires skill, knowledge and experience. Law enforcement agencies and advocacy groups stress the dangers of distracted driving, drunk driving and speeding. However, when it comes to boating, you do not need a license, and many people fail to take into consideration that the same behaviors that cause accidents on the road can cause accidents on the water.
1. Inexperience: Just as inexperienced drivers make serious or deadly mistakes, inexperienced boaters do as well.
2. Alcohol or drugs: Would you drink and drive a car? Alcohol affects your judgment and ability to drive regardless of whether you drive a car or a boat. Police arrest boaters for drunk driving more often than you would think.
3. Speeding: Many boats travel at high speed, and driving too fast diminishes reaction time and the ability to see obstacles.
4. Distracted driving: If you fail to pay attention, you might not see another boat or other obstacles.
5. Improper lookout: Make sure you have a clear, unobstructed view ahead of you and around you.
6. The rules of navigation: Ignoring or not knowing the rules of navigating a boat could cause a crash. Were you supposed to yield the right-of-way to another vessel? Does the waterway require you to stay at or under a certain speed limit? Before going out on the water, know the navigation rules.
7. Hazardous waters: Take the unpredictability of waterways into consideration. Tides, wakes and currents affect your ability to navigate safely in some waters.
8. Force of wakes and waves: Do not underestimate the strength and danger of another boat’s wake or waves. You could easily lose control of your boat.
9. Inclement weather: Just as the weather affects road conditions, weather also affects boating safety. Consider the weather, and adjust your boat-driving accordingly.
10. Equipment failure: Just as you keep your car well maintained, your boat requires routine maintenance as well. Mechanical difficulties could lead to an accident.
If you keep these factors in mind, you should enjoy a safe day on the water. Of course, just because you follow the rules does not mean that others will.
What are my rights if I suffer serious injuries in a boating accident?
Like any other accident, you retain the right to file a personal injury claim against the party or parties you believe caused the crash. An investigation into the cause of the accident will more than likely reveal that one of the above factors played a role. Those factors help establish negligence on the part of the at-fault driver, which could lead to an award of damages to help with the financial losses inevitably incurred after a boating accident, such as medical expenses, lost wages during your recovery and others.
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