California Boat Accident Lawyer
The experienced California boat accident lawyers at Bisnar Chase have the skill, knowledge and resources to hold negligent watercraft operators and defective product manufacturers accountable. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, please contact us at 800-561-4887 for a free consultation and a comprehensive case evaluation.
Each year, thousands of people are injured in accidents involving boats and other watercraft. Whether the accidents occur on speedboats, sailboats, jet skis, party boats, cruise ships or a privately owned vessel, these accidents have the potential to result in major injuries or even fatalities. Determining fault and liability in watercraft accidents can be challenging and complex.
Victims and their families would be well advised to learn about their legal rights in such cases. Owners and operators have a responsibility to pilot the craft in a safe and lawful manner and to ensure the safety of passengers at all times. Boating injuries usually occur because of a reckless or careless operator, operating the vessel under the influence, boat malfunction, or an inexperienced operator.
California Watercraft Accident Statistics
There are close to 1,000,000 watercraft registered in the State of California including pleasure boats, sailboats, powerboats and personal watercraft such as jet skis. California also has the second highest accident rate involving watercraft in the United States. The most common boating accidents are collisions with other boats, personal injuries while on the boat, sinking, and boat disappearance.
According to the California Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) accident report, 244 boating accidents occurred when a boat was just cruising and another 72 crashes took place while a boat was drifting in the water. Many of the most devastating boating accidents involved high-speed collisions and water skiing accidents, but any type of crash can prove fatal when it occurs on the water.
The agency states that 627 California boating accidents resulting in 398 injuries and 49 fatalities happen in a single year. The most popular locations for California boating accidents include:
- Southern Coast: 203 accidents, 11 fatalities, 96 injuries
- Northern Lake: 185 boat crashes, seven fatalities, 143 injuries
- Delta: 81 watercraft accidents, 10 fatalities, 60 injuries
- Southern Lake: 69 crashes, six fatalities, 41 injuries
- Colorado River: 30 boating accidents, three fatalities, 30 injuries
Types of Boating Accidents
The majority of California boating accidents involve a collision with another vessel. Some of the other most common types of watercraft accidents include flooding, skier mishaps, grounding, sinking, falls overboard, capsizing, crashes with submerged objects and collisions with a fixed objects.
Causes of Boating Accidents
The Department of Boating and Waterways reports that operator inattention is the most common cause of California boating accidents. Operator inexperience and excessive speed are the second and third most common causes of boat accidents. This means that the top three causes of California boat accidents involve operator negligence. In such cases, the at-fault boat operator can be held accountable for the victims' injuries, damages and losses.
Operators are not solely responsible for all boating accidents. In the year Machinery failure is responsible for nine percent of all crashes. When a defective boat part causes an injury accident, it may be possible to hold the manufacturer accountable for the victims' losses. Victims of mechanical malfunctions would be well advised to preserve their boats for a thorough inspection by a qualified expert.
California Boating Laws
Owners and operators of boats in California are required to follow state and federal laws when it comes to the maintenance and operation of their vessels. Similar to car drivers, boat operators are prohibited from driving in a reckless or negligent manner, which may endanger others. Operators must not drive near or through areas designated for swimmers, surfers or body boarders.
All California boat operators must have an adequate number of life jackets and fire extinguishers onboard. They also must display navigation lights, fix fuel leaks and ensure that there is proper ventilation. It is also vital for all boat operators to remain completely sober. Impaired driving is a particularly common cause of boating accidents. Many boat operators make the mistake of thinking they are allowed to drive drunk because they are on the water. This is a tragic error that leads to many fatalities each year.
If You have been Injured
If you or a loved one has been harmed in a watercraft accident, it may be possible for you to seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. It is important that you act quickly so that the incident can be properly investigated before evidence is lost. Similar to car accidents, the authorities should be notified whenever someone has been injured in a California boat accident. It is also advisable to:
- Write down specific details regarding how and where the crash occurred.
- Take photos of the damaged boat and of the injuries suffered.
- Collect contact information from anyone who may have witnessed the crash.
- Get your side of the story into the official report.
- Seek immediate medical attention.
Depending on the cause of the accident, you may be able to seek financial support for damages including medical bills, lost wages, hospitalization, permanent injuries, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Please contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer at Bisnar Chase today to schedule a free no-obligation case evaluation.