Boating Accident

Manasquan Boating Accident Lawyers

Enjoying New Jersey’s many lakes, rivers, and Atlantic coastline on boats, jet skis, and other watercraft is a popular pastime for residents and visitors alike.  Unfortunately, inexperience, alcohol consumption, and reckless behaviors on watercraft result in many tragic boating accidents.

The U.S. Coast Guard reports over 4,000 boating accidents each year in the United States, causing over 600 deaths and more than $40 million in property damage. In recent years, according to the Safe Boating Campaign, New Jersey ranked seventh among the top 10 states for reported boating accidents.

Our Manasquan boating accident lawyers at Kitrick, McWeeney & Wells, LLC advocate for clients injured in watercraft accidents caused by someone else’s negligent actions and help them seek justice and compensation for their injuries and losses.

What Are Common Types of Boating Accidents?

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the most popular watercrafts on New Jersey waterways include canoes, kayaks, open motorboats, personal watercraft, cabin motorboats, pontoon boats, and yachts, all susceptible to accidents. Numerous accidents can occur on or around boats and cause serious injuries or fatalities. Some of the most common accidents include but are not limited to:

  • Capsizing
  • Crashing into fixed objects
  • Collisions with other watercrafts
  • Explosions or fires
  • Falling from a boat
  • Flooding or swamping
  • Mechanical failure
  • Propeller accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents on or near a boat
  • Stranding or grounding
  • Waterskiing accidents
  • Weather or hazardous waters

What Are New Jersey Boating Laws?

New Jersey has laws and regulations governing boating similar to vehicle driving laws. The New Jersey State Police Boating Safety Manual details the following regulations:

  • Accidents: In a boating accident, you are required to report any disappearances, injuries, or deaths, or more than $500 in property damage, help others involved, provided doing so will not cause further injury or damage, and exchange names and contact information of everyone involved.
  • Age: To operate a boat in New Jersey, you must complete an approved boating safety course and be at least 13 years old to operate a vessel 12 or more feet long with an electric motor less than 10 HP and at least 16 to operate an engine-powered vessel.
  • Boating under the influence: It is against the law to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, nor allow any others also under the influence.
  • License: Boat operators, including out-of-state residents, must obtain a boat safety certificate to operate a motor-powered vessel on state waterways. Visitors to New Jersey for less than 90 days are permitted to operate a boat if they possess a boat safety certificate issued by their home state or provide proof of completing a boat safety course approved by another state.
  • Safety devices: All boats must have a fire extinguisher and an approved personal flotation device (PFD) for everyone on the boat. Children under age 12 are required to wear a PFD at all times while on the boat.
  • Speed limit: Operators must maintain a safe speed and slow down when passing other boats, certain hazards, and tight waterways.

What Are Common Causes of Boating Accidents?

Boat accidents occur largely because people underestimate the dangers of the water or boats themselves or do not understand the nautical navigation rules and safety laws. Boating education is crucial and required by the state to ensure safety and reduce the number of accidents. Some of the most common causes of boating accidents in New Jersey include the following:

  • Disobeying laws: Violating navigation rules and laws can lead to collisions with other watercraft.
  • Distracted driving: Operators who are distracted are unable to watch for other boats, objects on or under the water, piers or shorelines, skiers, and other hazards.
  • Drunk operator: Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is just as dangerous as driving a car. Drunk operators are more likely to speed, have decreased reaction time, have difficulty recognizing oncoming hazards, and misjudge the distance between the boat and nearby objects.
  • Lack of safety gear: Boats should be equipped with lifejackets, emergency flares, and a radio or other means of calling for help.
  • Reckless driving: Boats are longer and heavier and take much longer to turn. Operators can easily lose control if they speed, make unsafe turns, or engage in any other reckless actions.
  • Inexperienced operator: Inexperienced operators unfamiliar with how the boat operates, boating and navigation laws, or what to do in an emergency pose a danger to others.
  • Improper maintenance: If not properly maintained, the motor, steering mechanism, or other operating component can break or fail.
  • Reckless passengers: Reckless or rowdy passengers can cause accidents by distracting the operator, falling on or off the boat, or harming another passenger.
  • Slippery floors: Boat floors are often wet and slippery due to spray, weather, or swimmers coming out of the water, increasing the risk of falling accidents.
  • Wake or waves: Rough seas or following a larger vessel’s wake can cause smaller boats to capsize.
  • Weather: Storms can create rough water in any body of water, making it difficult to see or determine direction.
  • Alcohol: This is the top contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, and 78 percent of those fatalities were due to drowning.

Who Is Responsible for My Boating Accident Injuries?

Boating accidents can be complex, as multiple parties could be held liable, depending on the type of vessel and circumstances leading to the accident. Some potentially liable parties in boat accidents are:

  • Boat operator: The operator could be responsible if they were distracted, inexperienced, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the accident.
  • Boat owner: The owner could be responsible if the boat was improperly maintained or if an impaired or underage person was allowed to operate it.
  • Passengers: If you were injured due to a passenger’s negligent actions, they could be partly liable.
  • Boat manufacturer: If a defective part or system caused the accident, the manufacturer could be responsible, particularly if they were aware of the defect and failed to notify the boat’s owner.
  • Boat workers: If the accident resulted from a lack of proper maintenance on the vessel, the dockworkers could be found partially responsible.

Our Manasquan Boating Accident Lawyers at Kitrick, McWeeney & Wells, LLC Help Clients Seek Compensation for Boating Injuries

Enjoying New Jersey’s many waterways is fun, relaxing, and sometimes dangerous. If you were injured in an accident on the water, our Manasquan boating accident lawyers at Kitrick, McWeeney & Wells, LLC can help. Call today at 732-920-8383 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Manasquan and Brick, New Jersey, we serve clients in Middlesex County, Atlantic County, Mercer County, Monmouth County, and Ocean County.