New York City is surrounded by water, and these various waterways provide all kinds of options for recreation. Boat owners can dock and sail from marinas, tourists on vacation and locals can rent charter boats for the day, and there are several options available for kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boating. Though many people may not realize it, operating a water vehicle comes with as much responsibility as operating a motor vehicle on the road. Just like car accidents, boat accidents have the potential to cause serious injuries.
Boat operators have an obligation to ensure the safety of their passengers and anyone else on the waterways by boating responsibly. Boat accidents often result in serious physical, emotional, and financial consequences. If a boat operator causes an accident by engaging in negligent behavior, anyone injured in the accident could have grounds for a personal injury claim against the owner’s insurance company.
Common Examples Of Negligent Boating
It’s important for any boat owner or operator to appreciate the power of their water vehicle and to be aware of the damage they can cause. Common examples of unlawful operation which increase the risk of an accident and are prohibited by New York law include:
- Excessive speed – Boat operators have a responsibility to go at a speed which is appropriate for the current water conditions. They should take into account water traffic, weather, how close they are to shore, and be aware of any potential hazards in the water. Additionally, all boaters should strictly follow posted speed limits at all times. Speeding in the presence of other vehicles or in dangerous waters endangers everyone else in the vicinity.
- Improper distance – Boats must be operated at a speed of no greater than five miles per hour when the boat is within 100 feet of the shore, docks, piers, rafts, floats, or another anchored vessel.
- Riding on the bow, deck, or gunwale – Boat passengers should not be permitted to ride anywhere on the boat that isn’t outfitted with fixed seating or where there is a risk of falling overboard.
- Reckless operation – Reckless operation is a term which refers to any act which disregards the safety of yourself or others on the water. Examples include weaving through traffic in the water, swerving to avoid a collision at the last second, and overloading the vessel.
- Unsafe condition – It’s up to boat owners and operators to regularly maintain their vessels and make sure they’re in safe condition before use. Before each trip, operators should make sure the boat has enough personal flotation devices, fire extinguishers, backfire flame arrestors, ventilation systems, and navigation lights.
- Alcohol and drug use – In New York, boating while intoxicated is treated the same way as driving while intoxicated. The legal limit for intoxication is the same as it is for operating a land motor vehicle and is set at 0.08%. Alcohol use impairs vision, coordination, judgment, and reaction times, which are all important for operating a boat safely.
- Obstructing navigation – Boat operators should always be aware of other operators on the waterways and make sure they don’t do anything which interferes with another operator’s ability to boat safely.
If you were recently involved in a boat accident in New York City or during a camping trip, you probably felt confused and disoriented during the incident. You may not be aware of what exactly caused the accident or who the negligent party would be. This is why it’s often necessary to consult with a resourceful personal injury firm who can investigate the circumstances behind your accident, determine who was at fault, and help you seek compensation.
How Can Boat Accident Victims Be Compensated?
While a lawsuit can’t make injuries heal or bring back the victims of fatal boating accidents, it can make recoveries easier and demand accountability from the party responsible for causing the accident. In 2017, there have been at least two high-profile boat accident lawsuits in New York:
- Family of a fatal Lake George accident victim sues boat operator – The family of an 8-year girl who was killed in a fatal accident has sued Alexander West, the man who caused the accident, along with his parents, and three of the passengers on his boat that night. The family is seeking $3 million in damages. West was intoxicated at the time of the accident and was also in possession of cocaine.
- NYC woman sues employer and co-workers for alcohol-fueled boat accident – In an outing with co-workers, 33-year-old Lindsay Myers was injured as a boat passenger when the intoxicated operator crashed into a dock. The lawsuit alleges that co-workers tried to cover up the incident and failed to help Myers get the medical attention she needed. She is seeking $4 million in damages.
In a successful personal injury lawsuit for boat accident injuries, you could recover compensation for the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
If you were involved in a boating accident and you believe another party was at fault, Lipsig can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.