Many people enjoy spending the warm summer days cooling off on the water in a boat. The Coast Guard sponsored National Safe Boating Week 2015 between May 16-22 to promote boating safety awareness. This year’s motto was “Wear It!” to encourage people to wear life jackets while boating.
Unfortunately, every summer, the news is filled with tragic stories of people being killed or seriously injured in boating accidents. Last year, there were 4,064 boating accidents nationwide. Boating accidents can arise when a boat crashes into another vessel, or a rock. Boats can also tip, spilling out passengers by hitting a sizeable wave, or being operated in inclement weather. Similar to operating an automobile, a boat operator has a duty of care to those aboard as well as passengers on board other boats. If you have operated your boat negligently and have injured another person or damaged another boat, you may be held liable. Many of these accidents could have been prevented by taking more prudent safety precautions.
Some boating safety tips:
- Make sure to have your boat equipped with proper safety gear including life preservers, flares, fire extinguishers, whistles, and life jackets.
- Operate the boat appropriately according to the location (for example, do not speed through a “no wake” zone).
- Use nautical charts or a GPS system to avoid colliding with rocks or jetties.
- Make sure you have a VHF-FM radio and extra batteries to communicate with other boaters in the event of an emergency.
- Do not go boating in inclement weather- check the forecast.
- The U.S. Coast Guard also recommends leaving a “float plan” with someone not on your voyage.
Remember, it is both state and federal law to have your boat properly equipped with safety gear, no matter what type of boat you own. Additionally, by law, children under age 12 MUST wear life jackets.
If you have been the passenger on a negligently operated boat and were injured, you may be able to state a claim against the operator. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and remedies. Call the Law Office of Georgaklis & Mallas PLLC at (718) 238-2400 or (212) 779-2400.