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Justice On Your Side. Serving Savannah, Augusta, Atlanta and Beyond.

What To Do In A Boating or Watercraft Accident

During the summer, many people love going out on their boats and enjoying the nice weather. Unfortunately, while many people think of boating as a carefree activity, it can be dangerous. In 2019, the United States Coast Guard reported over 4,100 boating accidents.

It is important to understand why boating accidents occur and how to stay safe while out on the water.

How Do Boating and Watercraft Accidents Occur?

When people operate boats or other watercraft, they tend to take it a little less seriously than operating other powerful machines such as a car. There is ample room to drive water-based equipment on the water, but also many factors can contribute to an accident happening. Some of the most common boating and watercraft accidents happen as the result of:

  • Speeding- Certain sections of water have speed limits that every watercraft must follow. Failing to do so can endanger the lives of the people on your watercraft and others in the surrounding water.
  • Alcohol or drugs- These two substances significantly impair judgment and can be the culprits behind many accidents.
  • An insufficient or unsafe operator- If your operator isn’t properly trained or doesn’t understand the equipment and the delicacy and precision required, they could cause an accident due to their lack of knowledge. 
  • The negligence of others- An accident may occur on or around the boat due to another individual acting recklessly or without care. 
  • Machine failure- Like most machinery, watercraft aren’t immune to failure or broken parts. To avoid this as much as possible, keep up with your watercraft’s maintenance and make sure no parts have been recalled.
  • Unsafe boating conditions- If there is inclement weather or choppy waves, they can greatly affect any watercraft. It is recommended that no one go out when the weather may be unpredictable. 

Injuries That Happen As A Result Of Boating Accidents

Practicing safe boating habits is incredibly important as boating accidents can yield serious and long-term injuries for those involved. Some common injuries caused by boating accidents are:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) 
  • Broken bones
  • Injuries to the spinal cord 
  • Lacerations
  • Whiplash

If you feel as though you’ve been injured in a boating accident, seek medical attention. Waiting could worsen the symptoms and cause them to last longer.

What To Do If You Are Involved In A Boating Accident

If you have been involved in a boating accident, there are steps that you will need to take immediately after. These steps include:

  • Calling the authorities- Immediately after the accident, it is essential to alert the authorities so that ambulances and other emergency vehicles can arrive on the scene to help. 
  • Seeking medical attention- If you or other parties involved are injured, the ambulance will be able to take you all to the hospital to address the injuries. The other emergency vehicles on the scene can check the other passengers to make sure they don’t need medical attention. 
  • Collecting information- Gather up everyone on the boat’s contact information, any insurance information for the boats and watercrafts involved, and the watercraft’s registration.
  • Reporting the accident- In most places, reporting the accident to the coast guard is required by law. The coast guard may be able to figure out what went wrong and what caused the accident if it isn’t obvious, like a crash. 

Boating Accident Lawsuits

Boating accidents can cause severe damage and cause some to lose their lives. Compensation for these accidents depends on the injury and the circumstances in which it happened.

In one case, a man went on a boat ride with a friend and was wrongfully killed. Aboard this boat, the two were drinking, and there was unknown debris in the water that was causing the boat ride to be bumpy and choppy. At one point, the friend slammed into a bulkhead or a wall separating the water. The friend fell out of the boat upon the impact and was deserted by his friend. The driver of the boat did call authorities and brought the boat back to its original place. The man ended up dying, and the police eventually found his body. The man was identified, and his parents were distraught. His parents filed a lawsuit against the driver and were awarded 4 million dollars in mediation for the wrongful death of their son.

In another case, a woman was sent flying off a speedboat operated by her brother and sued him for the back injuries she sustained because of the accident. Prior to her injuries from the accident, she had back surgery a few years prior. The boating accident negatively impacted her back and caused her additional problems. The case was settled four years after the accident, and the woman received $430,000 to take care of her back issues and to make sure that any future treatments for her back will be covered.

Contact A Boating Accident Attorney

If you have been injured and would like to receive compensation, contacting an experienced boating accident attorney is crucial. Before you bring your claim to an attorney, make sure you are still within your state’s statute of limitations. If you are, then you may proceed with your case. Upon accepting your case, an attorney will begin an investigation into the accident. When investigating, the attorney may ask for:

  • An accident report from the coast guard.
  • Medical bills associated with your injury.
  • Pictures of the accident.
  • Testimony from eye-witnesses. 

After your attorney has these important pieces of evidence, they will assess any damages to you or your family. Damages can be intertwined with many different parts of your life. You can claim damages for your personal life, work-life, and family life. Some examples include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Emotional trauma

If there is any other damage that you believe should be included, let your attorney know so that they can include it in your case.

After the damages are assessed, a formal investigation into the accident will tell you who is liable and if multiple people or companies are liable. A list of potentially responsible parties include:

  • Whoever was operating the watercraft
  • A reckless passenger
  • The manufacturer of the watercraft
  • The owner of the watercraft
  • A lifeguard
  • Any other negligent party


Your attorney will be able to take all of the necessary information and documentation and build a successful case and yield the compensation you need. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact The Eichholz Law Firm for a free consultation.


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