At-fault Parties in an Accident should Pay for Their Victim’s Losses and Damages Resulting from the Accident

The U.S. Coast Guard compiles statistics on all reported recreational boating accidents in the U.S. and, based on their records, the numbers of accidents, injuries and fatalities are follows:

  • Number of accidents: year 2013 – 4,062; year 2014 – 4,064;
  • Injuries: year 2013 – 2,620; year 2014 – 2,678; and,
  • Fatalities; year 2013 – 560; year 2014 – 610

For so many years, alcohol-impairment remains to be the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. The top five leading contributing factors to accidents, meanwhile, include:

  • Operator inexperience. For the past 15 years, operator inexperience has been the leading cause of boat accidents in the U.S. Many boat operators, obviously, are not familiar with the laws and regulations on boating, rules on correct and proper navigation, knot tying, and the necessary things that should be done in weather-related emergencies.
  • Operator inattention. Rather than focusing on the water and where the boat is heading, many operators get distracted with what is going on onboard, making timely reactions to emergency situations impossible.
  • Improper lookout or improper forward watch. When operating a boat, steering clear out of danger can be more effectively done with the help of someone who can provide extra eyes and ears. Many accidents due to collision could have been avoided had the operator been given help navigate its way safely, avoiding anything that may cross its path.
  • Excessive speed. Just as speeding on the road is like some sort challenging the angel of death, so too is operating a boat at too much speed. The force impact created each time a speeding boat bounces off and back on the water can be strong enough to stun you and throw anyone overboard, leaving him/her with not enough strength to swim to safety. Boat owners and operators ought to know that drowning is the number one cause of death in the water and 80% of those who drowned were reported as not wearing a life jacket.
  • Alcohol. Boating while impaired or boating under the influence (BUI), according to the Boating Safety Resource Center, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division’s official website, is just as deadly as drunk-driving. Alcohol, especially at sea, can affect a boat operator’s balance, coordination, vision and judgment, much faster than on land. Due to alcohol, capsizing boats and drunken passengers falling overboard have been common causes of injuries and deaths.

The federal BUI law enforced by the United States Coast Guard applies to all types of boats, including the largest ships, rowboats and canoes; it also includes foreign vessels sailing through U.S. territories and U.S. ships on the high seas.

The threatening effects of alcohol when it is consumed while on sea include:

  • Deterioration of judgment and cognitive abilities, rendering wise assessment of situations, processing of information and making good choices, much harder;
  • Impairment in physical control, resulting in failure to make timely reaction to dangers, lack of coordination and problem in balance;
  • Decrease in peripheral or night vision and depth perception, difficulty in identifying colors, especially green and red;
  • Failure to pull self out of the cold water, causing hypothermia and death.

It is always expected of boat operators to: follow boating laws; never operate their vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; never operate the boat in a manner that is reckless; and, not exceed certain speeds while within designated areas. Failure to follow any of these may not only result to an accident, but to them being totally liable for whatever untoward incident they will cause.

Operating a boat while drunk is a clear act of recklessness and negligence and according to the law firm Mazin & Associates, PC, when people are neglectful, the people they hurt should not be made to endure the additional financial consequences of the injury. The medical costs, rehabilitation, and any other treatment they need for their recovery should be compensated by the party that hurt them.

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