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Boating Accident Information By on March 17, 2011

Salt Lake City injury attorney Lynn Harris has the experience and skill to represent those that have been seriously injured in boating accidents. Many people have suffered serious injuries as a direct result of boating accidents including: brain injury, spinal cord injury, burn injury, electrical injury, and fatal injury (wrongful death). Attorney Lynn Harris has the experience necessary to successfully represent cases involving these types of injuries.

What Vessels Are Considered "Boats"?


Perhaps you've been in an accident and are not sure whether the vessel involved is considered a boat; inflatables, personal watercraft, and kayaks may fall into such a category. The Coast Guard's definition of "personal watercraft" is a craft less than 13 feet long, designed to be operated by one or more people who sit, stand, or kneel in or on the craft, as opposed to being within the confines of a hull. Here's a list of the vessels that the Coast Guard defines as boats for the purposes of their data:

  • Airboats
  • Auxiliary sailboats
  • Cabin motorcraft
  • Canoes
  • Houseboats
  • Inflatables
  • Jet boats
  • Kayaks
  • Open motorboats
  • Personal watercraft
  • Pontoon boats
  • Rowboats
  • Sailboats

Types of Boating Accidents

The most common type of boating accident is when one vessel collides with another, but there are many other ways in which you or a loved one could be injured or killed in a boating accident:

An individual may:

  • Fall overboard
  • Fall from a dock onto a boat
  • Fall inside the boat
  • Be struck by a propeller or motor, or
  • Be overcome by carbon monoxide.

Or the boat may:

  • Capsize
  • Collide with a floating or fixed object
  • Collide with a water skier, jet ski, or swimmer
  • Go aground unexpectedly, or
  • Strike a submerged object, such as rocks.

In addition, the following events may occur as a result of the accident:

  • Fire
  • Fuel-related explosion
  • Flooding of the vessel
  • Sinking of the vessel

According to the Coast Guard, falls overboard and capsizing were the most frequently reported types of fatal boating accidents in the United States in 2005, and these two categories accounted for the majority (59 percent) of all boating fatalities. About 70 percent of the people killed in U.S. boating accidents in 2005 drowned (and 87 percent of these drowning victims weren't wearing a lifejacket).

Causes of Boating Accidents

The vast majority of boating accidents are caused by mishandling of the boat — carelessness, recklessness, and negligence. Examples of significant boat operator liability are:

  • Operator inexperience
  • Operator inattention
  • Excessive speed
  • Alcohol consumption

These are all significant factors, directly causing many accidents. Understandably, the Coast Guard's slogan for boaters these days is "You're In Command — Boat Responsibly."

Other common contributors to boating accidents are:

  • Improper loading of passengers (usually too many for the craft)
  • Machinery failure (e.g., steering, fuel system, or engine failure)
  • The environment (e.g., bad weather, hazardous waters, or a congested area)

Salt Lake City wrongful death attorney Lynn Harris can represent victims of boating accidents. Contact our practice today for a case evaluation.

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Lynn C. Harris

Lynn C. Harris

Lynn Harris is a personal injury attorney dedicated to helping victims rebuild their lives. He does not collect compensation unless you do. Mr. Harris is part of the Jones Waldo law firm, which has five locations in four cities in Utah:

  • Park City
  • Lehi
  • Salt Lake City
  • Provo

He can arrange to meet you at the location nearest you. If you or a loved one has been injured, reach out to our firm online or call (801) 375-9801 today.

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