A primer on New York boating accidents

Boating accidents can result in catastrophic injuries or even death.

Now that Memorial Day - the unofficial start to summer - has come and gone, traffic on the lakes, rivers and other waterways of New York will steadily increase as people get out to enjoy good weather and good times on a boat or personal watercraft. The fact that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and tourists own boats, jet skis and other personal water craft is a testament to their popularity and lasting appeal.

The fun will stop the instant a boating accident occurs, however. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) reports that, in 2015 alone, there were nearly 4,200 boating accidents across the country. Those accidents caused 626 deaths, more than 2,600 injuries and approximately $42 million in property damage. Furthermore, over 70 percent of those deemed responsible for fatal boating accidents had never undergone any formal boating safety instruction (it isn't required in New York or in most other states). Boating accidents can involve one or more vessels or personal watercraft in a wide range of possible scenarios, all of which can result in serious injury or wrongful death for innocent victims.

Common causes of boating accidents

According to the USCG, alcohol intoxication is the most common cause of fatal boating-related accidents, and it is one of the leading contributing factors to injury-causing accidents as well. Whether you are the passenger on a boat whose operator had "one too many" that collided with a pier, you were a water-skier struck by a drunken boater, or your kayak was rammed by an intoxicated boater, you can be seriously injured if someone negligently takes their boat out after drinking too much.

Other common contributing factors to boating accidents include:

  • Inattention of the operator
  • Lack of boating experience
  • Failing to keep a lookout for other vessels, swimmers, water-skiers or people on personal watercraft
  • Mechanical failures
  • Excessive speed (particularly in no-wake zones or in shallow water)

Sadly, what starts out as a fun day visiting an area "watering hole" ends in the tragedy of a boating accident because of the carelessness, recklessness or negligence of another boater. When you or someone you love has been injured in a boating accident, contact the New York City law firm of Smiley & Smiley, LLP. Send them an email, or call them locally at 212-986-2022 or toll free at 866-SMILEYLAW to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.