What Is the Cause of Most Fatal Boating Accidents?

what is the cause of most fatal boating accidents

The best way to spend a beautiful day in Michigan is by exploring one of the four Great Lakes. Unfortunately, these lakes are a big draw for many boaters, which can increase your chances of being involved in boating crashes. Due to the size of many boats and the circumstances of the crash, many times, these accidents can be fatal. This blog answers the question of, “What is the cause of most fatal boating accidents?”

You could be entitled to financial compensation if you were involved in a boat accident or your loved one was killed in a fatal boating accident. The Michigan personal injury attorneys will evaluate your case and determine the party responsible for your injuries or your loved one’s death. To schedule a free consultation with a boating crash attorney, call Lipton Law today at 248-557-1688.

Boating Accident Statistics in Michigan

cause of most fatal boating accidents

According to the 2022 United States Coast Guard report, 4,040 boating accidents resulted in 2,222 injuries and 636 fatalities. While these numbers seem high, it’s a decrease in boating accidents and deaths from the year prior.

In the past, Michigan has been reported as one of the least boating accident-prone states, according to a report released in 2020. Data released by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Michigan only had 110 boating accidents in 2021. When you think about Michigan being surrounded by the four beautiful Great Lakes that make up 90% of freshwater in the United States, that number of boating accidents is relatively low compared to the national average of 4,439 recreational boating accidents that occurred throughout the U.S. in 2021.

How to Reduce the Risk of Fatal Boating Accidents

There are ways that you can reduce your chances of being involved in boating accidents that can keep both you and your passengers safe. Listed below are some ways that you can stay safe.

  • Wearing life jackets: When you and your passengers wear properly fitting life jackets, you can greatly reduce your risk of drowning. According to the same 2022 Coast Guard report, 85% of people that drowned in boating accidents were not wearing life jackets.
  • Stay alert: Boat operator inattention is one of the leading causes of boating accidents. Boat operators are responsible for their passengers’ safety, so they must always remain alert and look out for any dangers on the waterways. The boat operator must also watch out for swimmers, other boaters, buoys, and other objects in the water.
  • Have a plan: Tell someone not traveling with you the plans of your boating trip, like routes, how long you’ll be gone, etc.
  • Stay sober: Many boating accidents are caused by the operator’s intoxication. Like driving under the influence, boating while intoxicated (BWI) can impair your judgment and put you and your passengers in danger.
  • Check the boat: Before setting sail, thoroughly inspect your boat and ensure everything works correctly. Make sure you have plenty of life jackets on board, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and an anchor. All navigation lights should work correctly, and the cabin should be appropriately ventilated to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Check the weather: Be aware of the weather reports for the day. Know the warning signs of incoming storms and other dangerous boating weather.

What Is the Main Cause of Boating Accident Fatalities?

The leading cause of boating fatalities, as of the 2022 Coast Guard report, is alcohol. Individuals operating boats under the influence that caused accidents accounted for 88 deaths which were 16% of the total number of boating fatalities in that year.

Other Causes of Fatality in Michigan Boating Accident Claims

fatal boating accident causes

In addition to boating while intoxicated, many other circumstances can lead to fatal boat accidents. The most common causes of fatal boating accidents are listed below.

  • Inexperienced boat operator: Boat operators that have little experience may forget to perform or follow required safety procedures. Young, inexperienced boat operators are also more likely to travel at high speeds and drink behind the wheel.
  • Improper lookout: The boat driver must always stay alert to prevent serious boating accidents.
  • Equipment failure: Fatal boating accidents can often be caused by defective equipment. Inspecting your boat and performing maintenance can help prevent parts from breaking down and leading to accidents.
  • Dangerous water and/or weather: Bad weather and large waves can make operating your personal watercraft more difficult. If the storm and waves are bad enough, they can cause the boat to capsize.
  • Boating collisions: Collisions with other watercraft or objects is another leading cause of boating deaths. These fatal boat accidents are so common that the Coast Guard separated them into two categories – collision with a fixed object and collision with a recreational vehicle.
  • Falling overboard: These fatal boating accidents are often caused by boat drivers increasing their speed or suddenly changing the boat’s direction.

What Injuries Can Someone Suffer from a Boating Accident?

The injuries one can sustain following a boating accident can be very serious and life-threatening. The most common injuries caused by boating accidents are:

  • Drowning: If the victim survives drowning, they could be left with serious brain injuries and damage. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, even briefly, the consequences can lead to brain damage.
  • Broken bones: Slip and fall accidents, collisions, and being thrown overboard can all result in a person suffering bone fractures.
  • Traumatic brain injuries: A person can suffer a traumatic brain injury from a boating accident in several ways. They may slip or fall overboard, hitting their head, or they could be underwater for a long period, depriving their brain of oxygen. Regardless of the cause, a traumatic brain injury can be devastating.
  • Spinal cord injuries: This type of injury can be caused by a boating collision accident or from falling on the boat and injuring their back. Spinal cord injuries are usually severe and often leave a person with permanent disabilities.
  • Amputations: Boating injuries leading to amputations are often caused by propeller blades.

What to Do Following a Serious Boat Accident

Following a serious boating accident, taking the recommended steps below is essential.

  • Get a head count: Evaluate the area and determine whether anyone is missing and has been thrown overboard. If someone has been thrown overboard, throw them a life jacket, life preserver, or other floatation device. Another swimmer trying to save them can be dangerous and lead to not one but two people drowning.
  • First aid: If anyone needs medical attention, do as much as possible while waiting for help. Also, check the other boat (if one was involved in the accident) to see if they need emergency medical assistance.
  • Exchange information: Get information from those on board the other boat, including the boat registration number and name. You’ll want all passengers’ and witnesses’ names, addresses, and telephone numbers.
  • Take photos: Take photos of any boat damage and injuries.
  • File a report: You must file a boat accident report with the Coast Guard and local or state agencies.

Should I Get an Attorney for a Boat Accident?

After you’ve received medical attention, reach out to a Michigan boat accident attorney immediately following your accident to discuss your case. If the boat crash was caused by negligence, you could be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries. When multiple parties are involved, determining fault and navigating a boat accident case can be difficult, so obtaining legal representation is recommended.

When you hire Lipton Law for your personal injury case, your attorneys will investigate the cause of the accident and gather evidence to strengthen your claim. We will also negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf so that you can receive maximum compensation for your injuries.

Should I Hire a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Lawyer?

If the boat driver’s negligent acts led to injuries, you should hire a Michigan personal injury attorney to pursue legal action. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, you may be able to file a claim against the boat driver, the boat manufacturer (if a defective part caused the accident), the boat rental agency, or even another passenger. Your personal injury attorney will determine which party acted negligently and pursue legal action against those responsible.

If the negligent actions of another caused a boat crash that led to the death of a loved one, the surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim. The family members that can file the wrongful death lawsuit are the deceased’s spouse, child, parents, or grandparents. Call a Michigan wrongful death attorney today to learn more about pursuing legal action following fatal boating accidents.

What Damages Can Be Recovered After a Fatal Boating Accident?

causes of fatal boating accidents

While no monetary amount will be able to replace your loved one, the damages awarded to your family can help ease the financial burden of the unexpected loss. The wrongful death attorneys at Lipton Law have recovered both economic and non-economic damages for victims’ families following fatal accidents.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are financial losses you have suffered following the wrongful death of a loved one. These losses are assigned a monetary value since they are considered tangible losses. The following are common economic damages that a family can receive following a wrongful death claim:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of benefits
  • Funeral and burial expenses

Non-Economic Damages

Those pursuing personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits can also recover non-economic damages. These damages do not have a specific monetary value but still deserve compensation. Non-economic damages that a family can receive from a wrongful death lawsuit are:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Contact the Michigan Personal Injury Attorneys at Lipton Law Today

You could be entitled to financial compensation if you were injured in a boat crash or lost a loved one following a fatal boating accident. A traumatic accident resulting in death can be an overwhelming experience. The last thing on your mind is taking legal action.

The injury attorneys at Lipton Law are here to ease the burden of filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit so that you can focus on healing or mourning the loss of a loved one. Our attorneys will handle your case from start to finish and ensure you and your family are adequately compensated. To discuss your legal rights with one of our attorneys, call Lipton Law today at 248-557-1688.