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Boating Accidents

Boating accidents are a common occurrence in Massachusetts and nationwide. The warm summer months are always a popular time to be outside and near lakes and oceans, either enjoying the water from the shore or exploring it on vessels. Yet despite how vast the open water may seem, it is important to remember that boats and other recreational vessels such Sea-Doos, motorboats, sailboats, rafts, kayaks, and jet skis pose many risks for personal injury and fatalities on the water.

If the negligence of another has resulted in a boating accident causing injuries or a wrongful death, a thorough investigation should commence immediately. Our experienced Boston boating accident attorneys have decades of success obtaining full and fair compensation for our client's medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. Call us today at 617-225-2100 for a FREE consultation.

According to the 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics Report, the United States Coast Guard reported 4,064 recreational boating accidents resulting in 610 fatalities, 2,678 injuries, and an estimated $39 million in property damage. The most common type of recreational boats involved in boating accidents were open motorboats (47%), personal watercraft (17%), and cabin motorboats (15%). In Massachusetts, the majority of boating accidents resulted in non-fatal injuries and property damage of more than $2 million, the fourth highest amount across the nation.

Contributing Factors

Boating accidents are ordinarily the result of combined negligent and reckless behaviors. The primary cause of boating accidents is operator inattention, but other factors include operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speeding, violation of navigation rules, and machinery failure.

Recreational boating accidents often involve alcohol. Alcohol use is a major contributing factor in boating accidents, especially accidents involving fatalities. In 2014, alcohol was the leading cause of fatal boating accidents, causing 21% of boating deaths.

Age may also be a contributing factor to boating accidents. State laws have various age and training requirements for boating license eligibility for different vessels. To conduct personal watercraft in Massachusetts, an individual must be at least 16 years old and must have taken a boating safety course. However, to operate a boat the age restriction is lowered to 12 years old.

Life Jackets Are Important

The leading cause of death in boating accidents is drowning. In 2014, 78% of boating fatalities in 2014 were due to victims drowning, and of this percentage, an astounding 84% of victims were not wearing a life jacket. Other causes of death include trauma, cardiac arrest, and hypothermia, and in all cases, at least 67% of victims also neglected to wear a life jacket.

Each state has different laws regarding the use of life jackets, but the use of them at all times on vessels is strongly encouraged. Due to an unfortunate number of children drowning, stricter laws have been implemented and enforced. In Massachusetts, children 12 years or younger are required to wear life jackets.

Reporting A Boating Accident

The U.S. Coast Guard requires that the boat operator file a Boating Accident Report when any boat or vessel is involving in a recreational boating accident. Under Federal and Massachusetts State Law, a recreational boat or vessel is considered to be in a boating accident when it results in death, a missing person, personal injury beyond first aid, or property damage over $500.

Some common examples of boating accidents include:

  • Grounding/Capsizing
  • Falls overboard
  • Fire/Explosion on-board
  • Electrocution
  • Striking a submerged object
  • Colliding with another vessel or object
  • Water skiing or other towable device mishaps
  • Carbon monoxide exposure

If you or a loved one has been injured or wrongfully killed in a boating accident, contact the Boston boating accident attorneys at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. We have offices in Boston, Cambridge, and Quincy and serve all of Massachusetts and Southern New England. Put our decades of experience and skill to work for you.

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