Someone riding a boat.

Why Do Boating Accidents Happen?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

With temperatures warming and an increase in recreational boating, it’s essential to consider safety on the water. California boating accident attorneys will tell you that thousands of accidents occur each year involving watercraft, resulting in severe injuries and sometimes even death. Understanding why boating accidents happen can help you take a proactive approach to boat safety and enjoy the water without worry. 

6 Leading Causes of Boating Accidents

Many of us associate bad weather and hazardous water conditions as the leading causes of boating accidents and injuries.  However, the US Coast Guard maintains that the majority of boating accidents are the result of human error and negligence: 

1. Operator Inexperience 


Boat operators are expected to know the waterway rules and the particulars of the watercraft they are navigating. Inexperienced boaters should consider enrolling in courses that educate boaters about California boating regulations, maritime laws, boat operations and maintenance, and emergencies. It is further recommended to partner with seasoned boaters for initial excursions. 

2. Operator Inattention


Operators of boats shoulder a heavy responsibility to avoid distractions and pay close attention to variables on the waterway and the boat that could lead to danger. Boat operators must equally manage the weather, the water, and their passengers.  Inattention and distraction of boat operators are leading causes of watercraft accidents. 

3. Improper Lookout


Maintaining clear visibility is critical for the operator. When possible, a passenger on the boat should be designated to assist the operator by looking out for water hazards and additional dangers that the operator may not see, such as swimmers, debris, and other watercraft. Improper lookouts have been cited as an additional cause of boating accidents.

4. Speeding 

California waterways have enforceable speed limits in place to ensure safety for recreational watercraft. Boat operators are responsible for knowing the speeds of the waterway and operating safely within the speed limits, reducing the chances of roll-overs and collisions.

5. Alcohol-Related Incidents


Alcohol consumption among boat operators and passengers is a factor in approximately 25% of all fatal motorboat accidents in California, and has become the leading contributing factor in fatal recreation boating accidents.  The legal blood alcohol content for boaters in California is 0.08%, the same as for drivers of automobiles.  Operators and passengers need to be mindful before consuming alcoholic beverages that impair their ability to safely operate watercraft or participate safely on the waterway.

6. Inadequate Boat Maintenance


Regular boat maintenance is essential to boating safety. Boat maintenance protocols should include routine inspection of operational and safety equipment. Sometimes, mechanical or safety equipment failure results in a boating accident. While it could be linked to manufacturer error, the responsibility of inspection and maintenance is that of the boat operator. 

Have You Been Involved in a Boat Accident?

Boating should be both a fun and safe recreational pastime. Educating yourself about why boat accidents happen can help you avoid hazardous situations and enjoy your boating experience. However, accidents sometimes occur even with an abundance of precaution.  

If you are involved in a boating accident, contact our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys today. Our boating accident lawyers can help determine negligence, navigate the complexities of maritime laws and California boating rules and regulations, and advise you regarding your position and possible compensation.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.