During the warmer time of year, Rhode Island's vast waterways offer a place for fishing and recreational boating. Although boating crashes do not occur on the same scale as car accidents, they do happen and can lead to serious injuries and even death when they do.
Recently, a woman was killed in a collision in Newport while racing a sailboat. The state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) reports that the woman was operating a two-person catamaran sailboat and competing in the New England 100 Regatta when she was struck by a powerboat.
Alcohol was not determined to be a factor in the crash, but a DEM investigation is ongoing — including conducting an autopsy, crash reconstruction, and collecting witness statements.
How common are boating crashes?
According to a United States Coast Guard (USCG) report, there were approximately 4,291 boating crashes across the U.S. in 2017 — resulting in 658 deaths and 2,629 injuries. The overall fatality rate in 2017 — 5.5 deaths per 100,000 people — marked a slight decrease from 5.9 deaths per 100,000 in 2016.
Roughly three-quarters of those deaths were caused by drowning, and 85 percent of those who drowned were reportedly not wearing life jackets. Other causes of death included general trauma, cardiac arrest, hypothermia, and carbon monoxide.
Additionally, alcohol was deemed a factor in more than 15 percent of all boating deaths. Other leading factors identified by the USCG included:
- Dangerous water conditions — 9.7%
- Lack of boating experience — 9.5%
- Operator inattention — 6.8%
- Inclement weather — 6%
- Improper lookout — 3.4%
- Navigation rules violations — 3.3%
- Wave or wake force — 2.5%
- Speeding — 1.6%
- Mechanical defects — 1.3%
The five most prevalent types of boating crashes across the U.S. included:
- Collisions with other boats: 1,145 crashes, 49 deaths, and 721 injuries
- Collisions with fixed objects: 470 crashes, 63 deaths, and 327 injuries
- Flooding or swamping: 435 crashes, 76 deaths, and 132 injuries
- Falls overboard: 306 crashes, 179 deaths, and 126 injuries
What to do in the event of a crash
In the event of a boating crash, all vessel owners and operators involved must follow strict guidelines set forth by the DEM. All accidents must be reported within five days if:
- A person dies or disappears
- A person is injured and needs medical attention beyond first aid
- Property damage exceeds $2,000
- A vessel is lost
Boating accident forms must be completely filled out and include information about your boat, owner/operator information, damage estimates, and a clear crash description (with a diagram).
If you sustained an injury in a boating crash, it's critical that you consult with an experienced Providence attorney who can help you pursue a strong legal claim. Whether you were injured in a crash caused by another vessel operator or you were a passenger injured in a crash caused by the operator on your boat, the Law Office of Mark B. Morse, LLC will fight for the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today to learn more.