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Boating Accidents and Injuries Information Center

According to the United States Coast Guard, approximately 8,000 accidents occur each year, averaging nearly 5,000 injuries, over 800 fatalities, and causing almost $30 million in property damage.

Frequently Asked Questions about Boat Accidents and Injuries

Q: Who is liable if a crewmember is injured while working?

A: A person injured while employed as a maritime worker over navigable waters will be covered by federal law. Under federal law, the employer is generally liable for injuries or the wrongful death of an employee.

Q: What are navigable waters?

A: "Navigable waters" are all waters, which are capable of transporting people or cargo between the states and other countries.

Q: What are the common causes of boating injuries and fatalities?

A: Some common causes of boating injuries and fatalities are capsizing of the vessel, falls overboard and a collision with another vessel.

Q: What are some safety measures that can help prevent injuries and deaths from boating accidents?

A: Some safety measures that can help prevent injuries and deaths are: wear a life jacket, do not consume alcoholic beverages while boating, take a boating education course and participate in the Vessel Safety Check (VSC) program.

Q: Can anyone have a personal injury claim if injured while aboard a watercraft?

A: People who may have a personal injury claim may be a: seaman, social guest, business visitor or bystander/swimmer/water skier. The individuals category determines which law will apply to their claim (state or federal).

Q: Does maritime law only apply to large commercial ships?

A: Maritime law applies to most types of vessels. A vessel may be a large commercial cargo ship, a cruise ship, a fishing boat or a jet ski (or other personal watercraft).

Q: I suffered an injury while aboard a cruise ship; do I have a claim?

A: Personal injuries aboard a cruise ship are covered by maritime law. You should contact an attorney knowledgeable in maritime law to discuss your situation and what your legal options may be.

Q: What are the common boating accident contributing factors?

A: Some common boating accident contribution factors are: operator inattention, inexperience, excessive speed and careless or reckless operation, alcohol, passenger/skier behavior, not having a proper lookout, Restricted vision, hazardous waters or weather, equipment failure or engine failure.

Q: When must a boating accident report be filed?

A: A causality or accident report must be submitted to the reporting authority if any of the following occurs: a person dies, a person disappears under circumstances that indicate death or injury, a person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid, damage to the vessel and property is greater than $500 or complete loss of a vessel.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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