The New Jersey summer season is getting close, and warmer days mean fairer weather for boating. As temperatures rise, more and more people will take to the water in their personal watercraft, from kayaks to motorboats to yachts. Crowded waterways can lead to collisions, which can then lead to all sorts of problems. Anyone intending to sail or ride this summer should be aware of the risks and know their rights before getting involved in any boating accident lawsuits.
Staying Safe While Boating
Not all accidents are the same, but there are definitely recurring factors. A few recommended ways of staying safe include:
- Using life jackets: Federal and state law require that all vessels must have enough for every passenger and that children aged 12 or younger wear them at all times. However, people of all ages should wear them. According to a 2014 report from the Coast Guard, 84% of drowning victims in boating accidents were found without life jackets. It may seem trivial to wear one on deck, but passengers and crew alike should use them.
- Staying sober: Drinking while boating is a lifestyle for many, but if anything goes wrong on the trip you should have all your wits. The Coast Guard report says that alcohol use isn’t the most significant factor for boating accidents in general, but it is for fatal boating accidents. More than a fifth of all accidents that resulted in at least one death involved excessive drinking. You wouldn’t drive drunk, so you shouldn’t sail drunk either.
- Getting trained in boat safety. Boats whose owners had never taken an accredited safety course accounted for more than three-quarters of boating accident fatalities. Boat owners who haven’t already done so should sign up for a course. State law, specifically Title 12, Section 7-61, makes this mandatory for pilots of any vessel with a motor. The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators website has a list of thirteen approved courses in New Jersey.
Handling a Boating Accident
Most people have some idea of what to do in the event of a car accident. Not many know what to do after boating accidents. Both of these processes are more similar than you think, at least for personal watercraft. If someone else’s mistake lands you in a boating accident, here’s what you should do once everyone involved is safe and sound:
- Exchange insurance information. Just as you would after a car accident, you should exchange insurance info for boat accidents, too.
- Photograph everything. You will need proof of the amount of damage caused to you during the accident, whether it’s to your property, your vessel, yourself, or someone else.
- Fill out a report. Federal law requires this only if someone dies, needs medical help, or disappears. You also have to report the accident if the vessel is destroyed or lost, or if property, including the ship itself, receives at least $2,000 in damages.
- Seek medical help. Even if you don’t feel any pain or sense any injury, you should visit a medical expert just to be certain.
Find an Experienced Attorney
If your health suffered at all or your property took damage in an accident caused by someone else, it is classified as a personal injury. Title 2A, Section 14-2 gives the statute of limitations for this offense as two years. This means that you don’t want to hesitate for too long before hiring a New Jersey personal injury lawyer, particularly one experienced with boating accident lawsuits.
Hopefully, the tips from the beginning should be enough to keep you safe, but if anything happens, make sure to follow the tips above. If you ever want guidance in anything related to boating accident lawsuits, other kinds of accidents, or other personal injury cases, feel free to contact DeZao Law at (973) 358-6134. Call today for a free consultation.