Boating is a beloved pass time for millions of Americans nationwide. From beautiful lakes and
rivers to the vast adventure of the ocean, boating is ideal for anyone who loves nature.
However, while boating can be a fun adventure for the whole family, it can also be dangerous,
especially if you have irresponsible boaters sharing the water with you. Many boating accidents
can lead to serious personal injuries that can follow you for the rest of your life.
At Flores Law Group, we want to hold those accountable for turning your fun day out on the
water into a traumatic experience. Our team of professionals doesn’t stop until they have found
everyone responsible for your boating accident and get you the compensation that you deserve.
If you are interested in learning more about filing a personal injury claim after a boating
accident, please get in touch with one of our legal experts today!
What Causes a Boating Accident
There is a wide variety of watercraft present on the water. These vessels vary in size and
speed. Knowing what boat caused your boating accident will help you prepare a better personal
injury claim. As stated in the Boating Accidents Statistical Report by the U.S. Coast Guard,
most accidents involved the following types of vessels.
● Open motorboat – An open motorboat is a type of watercraft that lacks an enclosed cabin
or sheltered area for passengers. It is characterized by an open deck design, without
any protective structure overhead. Open Motorboats account for over 50% of boating
● Personal watercraft – A personal watercraft (PWC) is a type of small watercraft that is
designed for individual or small-group use. It is commonly referred to by brand names
such as Jet Ski (Kawasaki), WaveRunner (Yamaha), or Sea-Doo (Bombardier
● Cabin motorboat – A cabin motorboat typically refers to a type of watercraft with an
enclosed area or cabin where passengers can find shelter or accommodation. The cabin
may protect from the elements or serve as a sleeping area on longer trips.
● Canoe/kayak – A narrow, lightweight watercraft typically open on top and propelled by
● Pontoon – A pontoon is a type of watercraft characterized by a flat, buoyant structure,
typically consisting of two or more cylindrical tubes or pontoons, connected by a deck or
Boating differs from driving on public roads due to the fact that waterways lack clearly marked
traffic lanes or signals that assist boaters in avoiding safety hazards and collisions. According to
the United States Coast Guard (USCG), recreational boating accidents occur through various
means, including instances such as flooding, swamping, collisions with other vessels, and
collisions with stationary objects.
As a watercraft owner, operator, or passenger, you bear the responsibility of being well-
informed and exercising sound judgment. If you are responsible enough to learn and follow the
rules of the water, it only makes sense that you should expect others to do the same.
Inexperienced boating poses a significant risk, with around 80 percent of operators involved in
fatal accidents lacking formal boating education. At Flores Law Group, we think that if someone
is irresponsible enough to cause you to get in a boating accident, they should be held
responsible for their actions and compensate you for your personal injuries. Here are some
examples of personal injuries occurring during a boating accident.
● Improper seating of occupants
● Lack of a lookout
● Ignoring warnings of hazardous weather conditions
● Operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In most states, boating under the
influence refers to operating a vessel with a blood alcohol content of .08 grams of
alcohol or being under the influence of drugs. More than one-third of all boating fatalities
result from collisions involving alcohol use.
● Reckless or careless boat operation, particularly in unfamiliar areas
● Operating an unsafe boat
● Unsafe fueling practices
● Insufficient experience
● Lack of knowledge regarding proper navigation
● Neglecting necessary repairs or routine maintenance
● Endangering swimmers
● Inadequate boat handling skills or irresponsible boat operation.
The Type of Injuries that Can Occur During a Boating Accident
First, drowning is the most significant outcome of a boating accident. It is such a substantial
problem that it accounts for approximately 79 percent of fatalities in boating accidents. You may
think you have good enough swimming skills to stay afloat, but we have found that even
individuals with good swimming abilities can drown. The factors that result in drowning include
the inability to reach safety, being unconscious upon falling into the water, or being submerged
after the fall. Shockingly, nearly 90 percent of drowning victims nationwide were not wearing life
Next, brain injuries are serious personal injuries that cannot only cause you immediate harm but
also cause you to develop problems in the future. Brain injuries can occur during a boating
accident due to head trauma from collisions or impacts with underwater objects. Prolonged
submersion or exposure to excessive carbon monoxide levels can also lead to such injuries.
Additionally, spinal injuries are another consequence of the impact of crashes. If a boat hits the
water too forcefully or experiences excessive bouncing due to waves or the wake of another
vessel, the boater may suffer from spinal compression.
Furthermore, while commonly associated with car accidents, whiplash can also occur in boating
accidents due to aggressive movements of the boating accident.
A massive risk while boating is electrocution. Electrocution is most common in boats equipped
with electrical systems, particularly when standing water is present or when the electrical
system is poorly maintained. This can result in electrical burns, tissue or nerve damage, or heart
rhythm problems for the victims.
Finally, lacerations are a common non-fatal injury reported by the U.S. Coast Guard, with over
200 cases occurring annually due to propeller strikes. Propeller accidents can also lead to
fractures, broken bones, and blunt force trauma for the victims.
Boating Accident FAQ
Are There Any Laws or Rules That I Should Know Before Boating?
Yes, there are dozens of rules and rules designed to keep you and your loved ones safe while
boating. Proving that these laws and rules were not followed is the best way to successfully get
the most compensation from your personal injury claim. At Flores Law Group, we know how to
use the law to get you the most for your pain and suffering. Here is a list of some of the more
important laws and rules.
Operating a Boat
As of January 1, 2022, California requires all persons 45 years of age or younger who operate
motorized boats on California waterways to have a California Boater Card. This card shows
that holder has taken and passed a NAS-BLA state approved boater safety examination. The
age limit goes up in 2023 and 2024 to age 50 and 60, respectively. By 2025, all persons
regardless of age who operate a motorized boat on California waterways must have this card.
There are additional restrictions if the boater is under age 16. Currently, the lifetime card fee is a
mere $10.00. California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 678.11(b).
Most vessels, excluding smaller non-motorized boats like canoes or kayaks, must be registered.
The registration numbers must be clearly displayed on the boat. If you or a loved one is injured
in a boating accident and the boat does not belong to you, take note of the registration numbers
located on the hull of the boat. This will help identify potential responsible parties for your injury.
Every boat must have at least one wearable life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard
(USCG) for each person on board. Boats measuring 16 feet or longer must also have an easily
accessible, approved, throwable life-saving device. Children under the age of thirteen are
required to wear a USCG-approved life jacket at all times when aboard any moving recreational
vessel of any length unless they are on a sailboat and tethered by a harness, inside an
enclosed cabin, or on a vessel engaged in an emergency rescue situation.
I Just Purchased a Boat. Do I Need Insurance?
While it is not legally mandated to have insurance for boat ownership or operation, many boat
owners opt to carry some form of insurance coverage. However, if you have obtained a loan
using your boat as collateral, the lender will likely insist on insurance coverage to protect against
potential damages to the boat. Moreover, most docks require boat insurance as well.
In the event of a boating accident resulting in personal injuries, if there is a lack of insurance
coverage or the existing coverage proves inadequate, alternative options for seeking
compensation may be pursued. These options can include pursuing claims against the boat
operator or other parties responsible for the accident in order to recover losses suffered due to
the incident. If you were in a boating accident and want to pursue a personal injury claim, please
contact Flores Law Group. We won’t stop until you receive the compensation you deserve.
How Do You Figure Out Who is Responsible for Damages After a Boating
If you want to seek compensation for personal injuries resulting from a boating accident, it is
necessary to prove that someone's negligence caused those injuries.
For example, if the boat operator is deemed responsible, it must be proven that they did not
meet the acceptable standard of care. Negligence claims brought before a court require the
establishment of four key elements. The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant owed
them a legal duty, that the defendant failed to fulfill that duty, that the plaintiff suffered injuries,
and that the defendant's breach of duty resulted in those injuries.
A boat operator is obligated to exercise a duty of care towards passengers on board, as well as
other boats and individuals swimming in the vicinity. However, determining responsibility for a
boating accident can be challenging. In certain instances, the fault may lie solely with one
person, while in other cases, it could be attributed to multiple individuals or entities. Only a legal
expert like the ones at Flores Law Group can determine who is at fault to get you the
compensation you deserve.
Here are some examples of individuals and entities that could be
found to be negligible after a boating accident.
● The individual operating the boat – This person may have engaged in reckless boating
practices, failed to provide necessary safety equipment such as life jackets, or
disregarded boating regulations.
● The boat owner – Boat owners sometimes lend their vessels without due consideration.
The owner might loan the boat to someone they knew was under the influence of drugs
or alcohol or lacked the qualifications to operate it safely.
● A passenger on the boat – Negligent passengers not only put themselves at risk but also
endanger others on board. If the boat operator is aware of a passenger's careless or
reckless behavior and fails to address it, the operator may also bear responsibility.
● The boat manufacturer – Boats consist of intricate mechanical systems, and
manufacturers carry the responsibility of designing, producing, and distributing boats that
function properly and meet safety standards. If a malfunction or defect in a mechanical
component leads to a serious accident, such as engine failure, steering system failure,
or pump failure, the manufacturer may be liable.
● The rental company – Rental boat companies have an obligation to adequately maintain
their boats. They may also be held accountable if they rent a vessel to an operator who
is clearly untrained or otherwise incompetent to navigate a boat safely.
Picking the Right Boating Accident Attorneys
At Flores Law Group, we strive to get you what you are owed, no matter who is at fault. Our
team has the expertise to navigate even the most complicated boating accidents. We also
believe in having a personal relationship with our clients and ensuring you feel heard and
understood while going through something traumatic like a boating accident. If you would like to
learn more about how we can help you file a personal injury claim for aviation accidents or
several different accidents, please contact us today!