Stay Safe on Your Boat This Year

Stay Safe on Your Boat This YearMaryland has almost 3,200 miles of coastline to take advantage of this summer. Many people see boating as a fun activity to spend time with friends, family, or loved ones during the warmer months. However, the truth is that it only takes one simple mistake or error for this relaxing and enjoyable activity to turn into a complete nightmare.

According to the American Boating Association, there were 5,265 boating accidents across the United States in 2020. Over 3,000 injuries and about 800 deaths were reported from these accidents, which were the sharpest increases in more than a decade.

Therefore, it is extremely important that you take the proper precautions to keep you and your passengers safe while riding on your boat. Boating accidents are serious and can lead to lifelong injuries.

Common types of boating accidents in Maryland

Different bodies of water present different dangers for boaters. Whether you are out on a lake or out in the ocean, you can still suffer an injury from boating accidents like:

  • Falling overboard
  • Collisions with another boat, object, or person
  • Boats overturning or capsizing
  • Explosions
  • Fires
  • Drowning
  • Flooding or swamping
  • Grounding

Causes of boating accidents

A leading cause of boat and watercraft accidents is operator negligence. The most common examples of operator negligence include:

  • Driving a boat while drinking alcohol or using drugs
  • Driving recklessly
  • Speeding
  • Failing to maintain the boat
  • Failing to provide proper safety equipment
  • Operating the boat during foggy or stormy weather
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving the boat at night
  • Purposely driving through wakes and waves

There are other causes of boat accidents, though, that have nothing to do with operator error. Those causes include:

  • Hazardous or dangerous waters
  • Defective or malfunctioning parts
  • Reckless or negligent passengers

Injuries that result from boating accidents

Just like any other type of vehicle accident, boating accidents can lead to severe and life-threatening injuries. A few of the most serious injuries that result from boating accidents are:

  • Oxygen deprivation from drowning: Drowning is a unique risk for all watercraft. It is a type of suffocation caused by inhaling water instead of oxygen. It is not always fatal, but it can cause irreparable brain damage if a person is under water too long. You don’t need to be fully immersed in water, either, to drown.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning: Falling overboard and drowning is the most likely cause of oxygen deprivation, but it is not the only one. Carbon monoxide can build up on boats, posing a risk to operators and riders. CO poisoning often presents as seasickness – dizziness, nausea, and headaches are common symptoms. It can be fatal.
  • Spinal cord or back injuries: When a boat collides with an object or another boat, the impact can lead to a back or spinal cord injury. This often comes from the pressure placed on the spinal cord area, causing herniated discs, torn tissue and ligaments, or even complete spinal cord damage. The impact can also cause a person to fall overboard, and the injury may make it impossible for them to swim to the surface.
  • Traumatic brain injuries: Traumatic brain injuries are one of the most dangerous and life-changing injuries. These injuries can happen when a person hits their head on an object during a boating collision or if they are underwater for a long period of time. TBIs can be fatal on impact.
  • Amputations: If a person falls off a boat or comes into contact with the propeller, there is a high chance that they may lose one of their limbs or body parts. There is also a real risk that a person will bleed out from the gashes or lacerations, even if their limbs stay attached.
  • Whiplash or neck injuries: During a boating accident, whiplash and neck injuries may occur due to the head moving rapidly back and forth from the impact. This usually happens when the boat stops or turns suddenly with no warning, which is common during a boating accident.
  • Burns: Fires, explosions, and electrical issues occur more often than you might think on boats. Therefore, when they do happen, passengers may suffer burns to their body. If the burns are very deep, the individual may experience third-degree burns, meaning all three layers of the skin are destroyed. This can lead to infections as well as damage to the bones and tissues underneath.

Who is liable for a boat accident in Maryland?

If you believe that you were injured in a boating accident because of someone’s careless or reckless behavior, you may be able file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties. Here are some of the parties you may be able to sue for your boat accident:

  • The operator/owner
  • The manufacturer
  • The maintenance company
  • Other passengers

Tips for staying safe on your boat this year

If you plan to be on a boat this summer, you may want some tips to help you stay safe and harm-free while having fun. The following are six boating tips to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure the weather is appropriate for boating.
  2. Always have enough life vests for your passengers and make sure they put them on before leaving the dock.
  3. Do not drink or use drugs while operating the boat.
  4. Never speed while driving the boat.
  5. Pay attention to driving the boat and proceed with caution.
  6. Take boat safety education courses to stay up to date and informed.

If you have been injured in a boat accident, reach out to Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. today. We have almost 40 years of experience helping injury victims get the maximum amount of compensation that they deserve. Call our office or submit our contact form as soon as possible to set up your free consultation. We will schedule your appointment at one of our multiple offices across Maryland.