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The Top 10 Causes of Boat Accidents

Be aware of these common causes of boat accidents so you can stay safe and afloat! But if you don’t, make sure to call Wilshire Law Firm, your best option for California boat attorneys.

Boating Accident

If your boat catches on fire, and it’s not your fault, call Wilshire Law Firm.

Boating is one of life’s greatest leisure activities. It’s also one of the most productive commercial industries. With tourism, rentals, private ownership, and commercial vessels constantly contributing to the economy – boating has it all!

Every day, people fill up their gas tanks, clean their decks and hit the open water. In most states, there are boating seasons, but in California, you can boat year-round in the Pacific Ocean, or one of our many beautiful lakes and river systems.

However, with that heavy volume of multi-seasonal boating comes many boating and shipping accidents – and fatalities – and they happen more often than you think.

In fact, there were almost 3,000 boating accident injuries in 2016 alone in the United States, with 701 fatalities:

Top Causes of Boat Accidents - Statistic

Boat accident fatalities in the U.S.

In the spirit of spreading awareness, so you can avoid making the same boating accident mistakes others made, here at the top 10 most common causes for boating accidents, according the U.S. Coast Guard (in no particular order):

1. Operator inattention
Staying vigilant and constantly monitoring boat position and speed sounds easy, but sometimes, lapses in judgement occur, even for the most weathered captain. Unsafe, unpredictable weather patterns, unforeseeable objects in the water, such as ice bergs or drifting debris, are always lurking. It’s important to look as far into the future as possible and stay alert.

2. Improper lookout
Speaking of looking into the future, many large vessels, sail boats and yachts have crew members that are called “lookouts.” They’re the guys that yell, “Land ho!” Well, sometimes they don’t yell it loud enough, or pay attention… Just kidding! Most modern boats utilize cameras up the mast for this mundane task, however, those cameras must be tended to, kept care of, and monitored to avoid nasty collisions or grounding.

3. Inexperienced operators
Learning how to captain and steer a boat isn’t exactly a rite of passage in America. However, often times friends or family members of boat owners and experts who aren’t sure how to control a ship grab the wheel and then hesitate during an emergency – or cause the emergency. Be careful who you let grab hold of the wheel!

4. Excessive speed
Some of the worst boating accidents occur at excessive speeds. We’ve all seen speed boat accident videos on YouTube with pretty girls in bikinis, but they are not so pretty after their boyfriend’s cigarette boat is capsized. Just like a car, speed is a very important detail to factor into safe, successful boating, especially when it comes to avoiding collisions with other vessels or grounding.

5. Impaired operation
Boating and drinking happens often, but, just like a car, you should always have a designated captain who is not drinking. Alcohol or drug use with boats is one of the biggest sources for boating accident fatalities. In fact, in the state of California you are considered legally drunk boating if you’re BAC is .08 or higher. Good luck paying off that BUI fine! (Boating Under the Influence).

6. Equipment failure
Avoid equipment failure by performing regular maintenance checks. Many steps need be taken to make sure proper maintenance logs are in order, for optimal safety operation of your boat. Many sailors say this is where the real boating happens – when you’re still at the docks; because when your checklist isn’t complete while you’re out to sea, that’s when disaster can strike. Then you’ll never see the dock again!

7. Violating navigation rules
You may have heard the phrase “There are no laws in international waters.” Well, in most waters, there are many navigational rules that, if not adhered to, can result in boat accidents like grounding or beaching. Not to mention endangering wildlife.

8. Dangerous waters
Most experienced captains can predict water conditions at all hours of the day using state-of-the-art instruments and keen senses of nature. However, water conditions can change within minutes, and no captain is perfect. You can’t always avoid dangerous waters, but you can always take proper safety precautions to prepare for the worst and, hopefully, stay dry.

9. Weather
Ever seen the movie, The Perfect Storm? Thought so. Like water, weather patterns have become much more predictable thanks to new instruments and technology. However, many accidents happen every year due in large part to overzealous captains neglecting weather forecasts. Mother Nature is not to be messed with, especially at sea!

10. Forceful waves or wake
Large waves and wakes from other vessels are extremely dangerous, especially if they arrive unexpectedly. Open ocean commercial fishing boats deal with large waves often, and smaller boats must always be mindful or barges and other large ship wakes.

Injured on a cruise? You may be entitled to compensation.

Feeling scurvy yet? Ahoy Matey!

If you or someone you know has been injured in a boating accident caused by another party’s negligence, involving any of these causes or something else, it is important that you contact a lawyer immediately.

The boat accident attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm will fear no wake in winning you a fair and just case resolution. Learn more about our award-winning, California super lawyers here.

We hope you have a great time boating this summer, and we hope you never find yourself in a situation that would require representation. But accidents do happen:

  • The Coast Guard says 2016 was the highest volume of boating fatalities in five years.
  • BUI (a boating DUI) recently resulted in the wrongful death of a teenager.
  • Paddle boarding in harbors and lakes results in injuries and fatalities alto often.

When a boat accident strikes, and you are not at fault, it’s important to know you have a team of award-winning personal injury attorneys on your side.

Learn more about Wilshire Law Firm’s boating attorneys.

Bon voyage!


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