Thanks to its reputation for year-round sunshine, it’s not surprising that Los Angeles is a popular destination for boating enthusiasts. You’ll find private boats and public charters operating in the Pacific Ocean and countless waterways like nearby lakes, rivers, and bays.
With an increase in boating activity, there is a corresponding increase in boating accidents. If you or a loved one were injured due to someone else’s negligence while on a boat, you need to contact an experienced Los Angeles boat accident lawyer to protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.
California Recreational Boating Accident Statistics
The California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways publishes studies on boating accident statistics throughout the state, including a breakdown of Los Angeles. In 2016, accidents statewide increased in a year from 503 to 588 with the number of injuries rising from 232 to 266. Fatalities increased that year by one, going from 49 to 50.
In Los Angeles, there were 64 accidents with 20 injuries and two fatalities. It’s important to note that Los Angeles has a significantly higher number of personal watercraft (PWC) registered in the county – 13,308. The next closest was Riverside County with 8,168 registered PWC. The total number of registered boats in Los Angeles, which includes PWC was 80,815 as of 2016.
Not surprising is that the majority of accidents take place in the summer, especially the month of July. Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest days of the week, and the peak time for getting into an accident is between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Most Common Types of Accidents
In California, colliding with another boat is the biggest cause of boating accidents by far. Some other common types of accidents include:
- Collision with a Fixed Object
- Falling Overboard
- Water Skier Mishap
- Person Leaves or is Ejected from Vessel
- Fire/Explosion (Fuel and Non-Fuel Related)
- Falling in Boat
- Struck by Propeller or Motor
- Struck Submerged Object
- Colliding with Floating Object
- Engine Starting
Of the 50 fatalities in 2016, 21 were due to the vessel capsizing, while another 13 people died after leaving or being ejected from the vessel. 12 people fell overboard while eight people fell in the vessel and died. Hazardous weather and/or waters played a role in 10 of the deaths while operator inattention or inexperience could be attributed to 16 others.
Main Reasons for Boating Accidents
Negligence plays a big role in most boating accidents, with operator inattention in the lead for the main cause of boating accidents in California. Other operator-related issues include:
- Inexperience of the boat operator
- Improper anchoring
- Taking a turn too sharp
- Not maintaining vessel
There are other situations where an accident may be caused by equipment failure or a defect with the vessel. In these cases, there may be another responsible party who needs to contribute to reimbursing you for the injuries and property damage you sustained in the accident.
Types of Watercraft Involved
It’s important to understand that a boating accident can involve more than one or two boats. They can include a variety of different types of watercraft, including:
- Cruise ship
- Commercial Freighter
- Personal Watercraft like WaveRunner, Ski-Doo, or Jet Ski
- Boat or PWC hitting a swimmer
Proving Liability in a Boating Accident
Proving negligence is the foundation for all personal injury claims related to a boating accident. This means you have to provide evidence that the alleged negligent party did not behave in a reasonable manner. This is why retaining a skilled Los Angeles boating accident attorney is so important. At the El Dabe Ritter Law Firm, we specialize in handling boating accidents in the Southern California region. We are committed to getting you the compensation you deserve.
California is what’s known as a pure comparative fault state, which means you are entitled to recover a portion of your damages, even if you were partially at fault for the accident. This means if you are found to be 30 percent at fault for a boating accident, you can collect up to 70 percent of your damages. This also means the other party could collect 30 percent of their damages from you.
To prove liability, your attorney will use resources like police reports and eyewitness statements provided at the time of the accident. They will look at scene photos and any potential video footage that exists. They will analyze operator logs and any other necessary documents that can prove negligence. In addition, some cases may require the use of an accident reconstruction specialist who can evaluate the accident and speak to the cause.
Added Safety Tips for Personal Watercraft
Riders and passengers are at risk of being thrown off a personal watercraft or into the path of an oncoming boat. It’s important that operators take personal safety seriously and ensure they are taking extra precautions when operating a jet ski or similar types of equipment. The Personal Watercraft Industry Association (PWIA) offers recommendations on safety courses and has an extensive list of safety tips. Some of these include:
- All riders are required to wear Coast Guard-approved PFDs that are suitable for PWC use.
- Wear proper protective clothing.
- Know the applicable boating laws. It’s recommended that no one under 16 years old be allowed to operate a PWC.
- Never ride if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Attach the engine shut-off cord on a lanyard to your wrist and keep it apart from the handlebars.
- Whenever the engine is on, stay away from the intake grate.
- Do not ride beyond your limits and refrain from aggressive maneuvers.
Retaining a Los Angeles Boating Accident Attorney
There are a lot of factors to consider after a boating accident. A thorough investigation and search for all applicable coverages are imperative. Laws surrounding boating accidents can be complex depending on where the accident occurred. It may involve federal, state, and maybe even international maritime laws, all of which have their own regulations that pertain to a boating loss. Please contact the skilled team of Los Angeles boat accident lawyers at the El Dabe Ritter Law Firm toll-free at 888-543-5041 to schedule an initial consultation.