Whether it’s for a day of fishing or recreational fun, it’s Maine's peak season for boating. Many residents and visitors who enjoy an outing on our waterways and lakes are urged to stay safe this season. While boat crashes don’t happen on the same scale as traffic crashes, they can result in severe injuries and even death.
Boating crashes and their causes
According to a 2017 report released by the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the five leading types of boat accidents across the United States included:
- Collisions with other vessels resulting in 1,145 incidents, 49 fatalities, and 721 injuries
- Collisions with fixed objects resulting in 470 incidents, 63 fatalities, and 327 injuries
- Flooding or swamping resulting in 435 incidents, 76 fatalities, and 132 injuries
- Falling overboard resulting in 306 incidents, 179 deaths, and 126 injuries
The 10 most common factors in boat crashes included:
- Inattention or distraction resulting in 620 incidents, 45 fatalities, and 381 injuries
- Improper lookout resulting in 471 incidents, 23 fatalities, and 337 injuries
- Operator inexperience resulting in 436 incidents, 63 fatalities, and 249 injuries
- Mechanical defects resulting in 305 incidents, nine fatalities, and 80 injuries
- Alcohol impairment resulting in 275 incidents, 102 fatalities, and 227 injuries
- Excessive speed resulting in 269 incidents, 11 fatalities, and 247 injuries
- Navigation rules violations resulting in 257 incidents, 22 fatalities, and 165 injuries
- Inclement weather resulting in 198 incidents, 40 fatalities, and 60 injuries
- Dangerous water conditions resulting in 187 incidents, 64 fatalities, and 124 injuries
- Wave or wake force resulting in 169 incidents, 17 deaths, and 148 injuries
Vessel operators in Maine must do the following in the event of a boat crash:
- Stop their vessels immediately
- Offer assistance to anyone who has sustained an injury if it is safe to do so
- Provide their names, addresses, and vessel identification to anyone affected by the crash
Procedures after a boating crash
If a boat crash causes injury, death, or the disappearance of a person, the incident must be reported to the nearest law enforcement officer as soon as possible.
Vessel owners must also report crashes in writing to the Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW), using the form here.
The vessel operator must report the incident in writing within 24 hours if the following occurs:
- A person dies
- A person disappears
- A person sustains a serious or life-threatening injury
- A person loses consciousness, is medically treated, or disabled for more than 24 hours
If you or a loved one was injured in a boating crash, your first course of action should be to get immediate medical attention, even if you feel ok. A medical evaluation may not only help prevent a minor injury from worsening, but it can also be a crucial component to your personal injury claim.
You should then consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Gathering evidence to support your claim and help you receive the compensation you deserve requires the work of a highly-skilled attorney. The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein can deliver results. Contact us today to get started.