When you hear the phrase “boat accident,” you likely envision a large boat colliding into a dock or two speedboats smashing into each other. The truth is that boat accidents typically involve more commonplace occurrences.
From tubing accidents to jet ski collisions, these incidents are extremely dangerous, often leading to serious injuries or death. They also usually involve one of five causes.
The 5 Contributing Factors of Boat Accidents
According to Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, the top five contributing factors in Michigan boat accidents are:
- Operator inattention
- Improper lookout
- Operator inexperience
- Alcohol use
In fatal boating accidents, drowning is by far the leading cause, as it represents 79% of all boat accident deaths. Of those drowning fatalities, 86% of victims were not wearing a life jacket.
Take Special Precautions When Enjoying Recreational Activities
Some of the most serious and common types of boating accidents involve devices like tubes and jet skis. In tubing accidents, serious injury and death can occur when the operator of the boat pulling the tube is distracted, inexperienced, impaired, or speeding.
Jet ski operators are also far more likely to be injured when they lack experience, fail to pay close attention to their surroundings, drive too fast, or operate their jet skis after consuming alcohol.
The best way to avoid serious injury or death while enjoying these activities is to make safety your top priority. That means you should:
- Start slowly. It takes time and experience to become competent at operating a watercraft or riding jet skis. When you begin using these watercrafts, do so with the guidance of a more experienced operator. Only after hours of safe and controlled practice should you feel comfortable riding solo.
- Always being mindful of surroundings. Lakes and other waterways tend to be their most busy on weekends and holidays. When there are several other people using boats, tubes, or jet skis, always be mindful of where they’re at in relation to your vessel, and be fully aware of any other obstacles in your path.
- Travel at safe speeds. As thrilling as it can be to travel at high speeds on the water, the risks of serious injury or death increase dramatically the faster you go. Never travel at unsafe speeds on the water to ensure that you and others stay as safe as possible.
- Avoid alcohol before operating a boat or jet ski. If you’re operating a boat or jet ski or if you’re tubing, never consume alcohol beforehand. Nearly one quarter of all fatal boating accidents involve alcohol consumption.
- Wear a lifejacket. It’s important for anyone on the water to consider wearing a U.S. Coast Guard–approved personal flotation device, also called a lifejacket. Though lifejackets aren’t required by Michigan law for everyone on the water, they’re often the difference between life and death when boat accidents happen.
When Your Boat Accident Is Caused by Someone Else, You Have Legal Options
When you enjoy recreational activities on the open water, you can do everything possible to stay safe and still suffer serious injuries or death. That’s because your safety also depends on the actions of others you share the water with.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a boat accident, the Michigan boat accident attorneys at Fieger Law are here to help. Contact our team today to schedule a free, no-obligation case assessment.