According to American Boating, the Coast Guard reported 4,463 boating accidents in 2016, resulting in 701 deaths, nearly 3,000 injuries and $49 million dollars in damage to property. When compared to 2015, the number of boating accidents increased by 7.3 percent and the number of deaths from boating accidents increased 12 percent. Cause of death in a full 80 percent of the boating fatalities in 2016 was drowning, and of those drowning victims, 83 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
Alcohol was involved in at least 15 percent of the boating fatalities in 2016. Lack of education and instruction was also a factor in many of the boating fatalities, with about 77 percent of all boating fatalities occurring on a vessel where the operator had no safety education and no boat operator instruction. The top five contributing factors in boating accident include:
- Operator inattention;
- Operator inexperience;
- Improper lookout;
- Excessive speed, and
- Machinery failure.
Jet ski accidents have also increased, with critics asserting it is simply too easy for careless, untrained operators to hop on a jet ski, with the result being serious, even fatal accidents. By early summer in 2012, the U.S. Coast Guard reported 238 jet ski accidents, resulting in 212 injuries and 16 fatalities. In 2011, there were 44 people killed on jet skis, with the major factor in these accidents being carelessness or lack of training.
Major Waterways and Lakes in Alabama
With more than three percent of Alabama being made up of water, the state has many lakes and waterways which are perfect for summer activities. In fact, the state of Alabama is home to one of the longest navigational waterways in the country, and is also made up of streams, rivers and lakes. Of the more than 100 lakes spread across the state, one which receives numerous visitors is Lewis Smith Lake, most often known as Smith Lake.
Smith Lake is located on the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River in Cullman, Winston and Walker counties and covers nearly 22,000 acres. Smith Lake is not only hailed as the most beautiful lake in the Southeast, it has also been voted the third-cleanest lake in the United States. Jet skiing, boating, swimming and fishing are just a few of the recreational activities offered by the beautiful Smith Lake.
Wheeler Lake in Madison County sits along the Tennessee River, stretching from the Wheeler Dam to Guntersville Dam, making it the second largest lake in the state of Alabama. Wheeler Lake is a major tourist attraction, drawing about four million visitors each year who come for the camping, fishing and boating activities. Offering many recreational adventures, Lake Guntersville Resort State Park is located along the banks of the Tennessee River in Northeast Alabama.
Lake Guntersville allows canoes, motorized and non-motorized watercraft, and is a well-known fishing destination. Another large volume of water creates some spectacular fishing as the Tennessee River dips south from the state of Tennessee into the state of Alabama. About 150 miles of the Tennessee River is located in Alabama, with the largest cities on its route through the state being Decatur and Florence, and the largest lakes the river traverses being Pickwick, Wilson, Wheeler and Guntersville.
Alabama’s boater safety education course requirements exempt sailboats, rowboats and canoes, while all other boaters must obtain certification. Life jackets are a requirement for every person on a boat in the state of Alabama. Once certification is obtained, anyone fourteen or older is allowed to operate a boat in the state.
Are Boating and Jet Skiing Safe?
Boating is a relatively safe hobby however accidents do happen, and when they do, those injured in the accident could potentially be entitled to compensation from the responsible party. Federal law requires that certain accidents be reported to the state, including any accident in which a passenger suffers serious injury or dies, any time a passenger disappears from a boat and death or injury is suspected, or any time property damage to the boat is $2,000 or more. The operator of the boat is required to report property damage within 10 days and injuries within 48 hours. In the state of Alabama, you must file a report with the Marine Police, a division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources who then forwards the report to the United States Coast Guard.
Boating Accidents and Alcohol
Alcohol is considered a contributing factor in many Alabama boating accidents; under state law, operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offense, resulting in fines and jail time in the event of a conviction. If a boat operator causes an accident while under the influence, he or she can face both criminal and civil charges. Other causes of Alabama boating accidents are human error, most notably inexperience or inattention. A boating accident can result in a variety of financial losses, including:
- Lost wages;
- Property damage;
- Medical expenses, and
- Court costs.
An experienced Alabama boating accident attorney from Martinson & Beason will know the best way to factor in the various types of loss to ensure you and your family receive the most comprehensive compensation.
Getting Help Following your Boating Accident from a Martinson & Beason Attorney
If you have been involved in a boating accident which was caused by the negligence of another person, it is extremely important that you speak to a highly qualified Martinson & Beason personal injury attorney. A boating accident attorney from Martinson & Beason will aggressively protect your rights following your accident with injuries. We understand the difficult position you are in—perhaps your injuries are so severe that you are unable to return to work for a few weeks—or for a much longer period of time. You may have medical expenses which are mounting in an alarming manner and you may even be unable to pay for certain necessary medical treatments. The person responsible for your injuries should pay for your resulting medical expenses and lost wages. At Martinson & Beason we will help you obtain the compensation you are entitled to following a comprehensive evaluation of your boating or jet ski accident. Contact Martinson & Beason today!