Staying Safe on the Water


Summer and early fall are great times to engage in recreational boating and other water sports. These family fun activities are seen as enjoyable by individuals across the country, however, boating can turn from fun to fatal in a split second. Without the proper safeguards in place, you and your family can be put at risk for injury. According to the United States Coast Guard’s 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics report, the top five boating category accidents for 2015 included:

  • Collision with recreational vessels;
  • Collision with stationary objects;
  • Flooding/swamping;
  • Grounding; and
  • Skier mishap. 

In 2015, the top five boating accidents allotted for 2560 accidents nationwide. While the risk of death from these accidents was generally low, there were 1638 recorded injuries. According to the United States Coast Guard, the top ten known contributing factors to these accidents included:

  • Operator inattention;
  • Operator inexperience;
  • Improper lookout;
  • Machinery failure;
  • Excessive speed;
  • Alcohol use;
  • Hazardous waters;
  • Navigation rules violation;
  • Weather; and
  • Force of wave/wake. 

Most of the accidents that occur while boating are preventable. The National Safety Council has described a few ways to reduce the risk of injury on the water. The first factor used in contributing to the decline of boating injuries and fatalities is to wear a lifejacket. According to the United States Coast Guard, 78% of boating fatalities were due to drowning and 84% of the victims that fatally drowned were not utilizing proper life vests. 

In 2017, the National Safe Boating Council created the “Wear It” campaign, which drew its focus to the importance of wearing a life jacket, regardless of age, while engaging in water sports or recreational boating. In New York State it is a requirement for all vessels to be equipped with one life jacket per passenger onboard. Violations carry fines imposed on the boat owner.

The National Safety Council also stresses the importance of getting educated on boating rules, regulations, and safety tips. In New York State, those born after May 1, 1996 are required to obtain a valid boating safety certificate by successfully completing a boating safety education course. Those born prior to May 1, 1996 are not required to take the boating safety education course, though it is strongly recommended to ensure that the boaters are knowledgeable on how to operate the vessel and are cognizant of safety regulations. 

To reduce the risk of injury or fatality while boating, it is important to be aware of common safety faults and how to avoid them. However, if you were injured in a boating accident as the result of another’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced New York boating accident lawyer to advise you of your legal rights and remedies. Put the skilled New York personal injury lawyers of Georgaklis & Mallas, PLLC on your side to vigorously represent you and fight for the compensation you and your family deserves. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call our Brooklyn personal injury lawyers at (718) 238-2400.