Riverside & San Bernardino Boating Accidents Attorneys
Are you a victim of a boating accident in the Inland Empire?
You are not alone. In the United States, boating accidents kill hundreds and injure thousands annually. To be at risk, you do not have to be on a commercial ferry, cruise ship, or tour boat. Recreational vessels, like motor boats, jet skis, canoes, sailboats, and houseboats are often involved in accidents. Recreational boating is popular in California, where over 900,000 vessels are registered. In 2008, over 600 accidents were reported in California, with 48 fatalities and $5.5 million in property damage.
Primary Factor: Operator Failure
About 70 percent of boating accidents result from factors within the control of the operator. The primary factors: inattention, inexperience, careless or reckless operation, and failure to use safe speeds or keep watch. Another factor is alcohol consumption, which is a significant element in fatal accidents despite legal prohibitions.
Safety Laws: Operating a Boat
Stringent laws regulate boat operation. Every vessel owner and operator must comply. Noncompliance is not only illegal, but could lead to a fatal accident and civil or criminal liability.
In California, reckless or negligent operation of a vessel that endangers a person's life, limb, or property is illegal. A boat must not be maneuvered erratically or operated in any way that causes another boat to take dangerous evasive action. A vessel must not go through the swimming or diving areas. Speed must be reasonable to such conditions as boat traffic, weather, visibility, and hazards. Passengers must not ride where they might fall overboard. No vessel may be operated in unsafe condition. It must have fire extinguishers, navigation lights, and ventilation. It must not leak fuel or have excessive bilge water. It must use Coast Guard approved devices, including distress signal equipment, fire extinguishers, gas ventilation systems, flame arresters, and life jackets or personal floation devices (PFDs).
At a Boating Accident
California law requires every vessel operator in a boating accident to assist anyone injured. The operator must give his or her name, address, and vessel registration number to others in the accident. Reporting a Boating Accident
By law, a vessel operator must report any accident involving the vessel if
1) a person’s died or disappeared
2) a person sustained injury needing medical treatment other than basic first aid
3) property damage exceeded $500 to all vessels, docks, and other property in the accident, or
4) the vessel was lost entirely. The report must be filed with the California Department of Boating and Waterways. If only property was damaged, the filing deadline is 10 days from the accident. However, it must be filed within 48 hours of the accident if a person died, disappeared, or was injured
Inland Empire Boat Accident Victim: What Should You Do?
If you've been in a boating accident, seek legal counsel. You may be able to recover damages for personal injuries and property damage. However, the evidence must be preserved. Timing is critical. As soon as possible after the accident, contact a personal injury lawyer who has experience with boat accident cases.