With more than 1300 miles of Pacific coastline and 200 major lakes and reservoirs, California is home to a large population of boaters. Whether the boat’s voyage is purposed for transportation, fishing, sailing or recreation, its passengers face a significant risk of injury or death each time they are on the water.
In the most recent reporting year, 2008, there were 686 boating accidents in California, according to the California Department of Boating and Waterways. The boating accidents caused injury to 382 passengers, resulted in 48 deaths, and caused nearly $6 million dollars in property damage. These substantial numbers show the importance of observing strict adherence to California boating laws.
While most Californians follow safe boating practices, it only takes a few irresponsible people to ruin the boating experience for many. When we take a closer look at the common causes of California boating accidents, we see that human err is the chief cause of death and injury on California waterways. Here is a breakdown of the types of boating accidents in 2008:
- Boating collisions with other vessels accounted for 34 percent of all boating accidents. Whether caused by excessive speed, alcohol or recklessness, the most frequent cause of California boating accidents is also the most preventable.
- Flooding or swamping of the boat caused about 18 percent of maritime accidents in California. This can occur when the boat operator takes the vessel out in inclement weather or uses a boat inappropriate for the particular water conditions.
- Grounding accounted for almost 13 percent of all boating accidents. This may occur when the boater is travelling too fast in shallow areas or is operating in an area that he is unfamiliar with.
- People fell overboard in 11 percent of the boating accidents.
- Water-skiing accidents represented nearly ten percent of the mishaps.
- Boats capsized in over 8 percent of the accidents.
- Crashing into a stationary object accounted for almost 6 percent of boating accidents.
As shown by the common causes, boating accidents are largely preventable and the result of preventable mistakes or carelessness.
San Francisco Area Boating Accidents
Northern California has a disproportionately high ratio of California boating injuries and deaths. Northern California lakes accounted for 234 accidents in 2007, the highest of any location that year. This number includes places such as:
The San Francisco Bay Area and Delta accounted for 126 boating accidents in 2007, including 75 injuries and 15 fatalities. The Bay Area and Delta includes places such as Alameda and Sausalito.
Recovering Damages for a Boating Accident Injury or Death
When boaters decide to travel too fast, consume alcohol, or operate in any negligent manner that put others at risk, they prioritize their own thrills over the health and safety of the public. In addition to criminal penalties, irresponsible boaters also expose themselves to liability for the harm they cause to victims.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a boating accident, contact a San Mateo boat accident lawyer to discuss what legal rights to damages you may be entitled to. A reputable attorney will give you a confidential consultation so you may share with him the specifics of your case.