Recreational boating is a popular activity in Portland, with many residents choosing to explore the many waterways around the city. However, this pastime carries serious risks—including the risk of boating accidents. These accidents can result in serious injuries and fatalities, leading to often irreparable losses for victims and their families. Many factors can lead to a boating accident, including operator inexperience and alcohol use.
Common Causes of Boating Accidents
The United States Coast Guard compiles data on boating activities each year. According to its 2019 report on recreational boating statistics, operator inattention contributed to the most accidents in 2019, followed by improper lookout and inexperience. Some of the most common causes include the following.
- Operator inattention: To operate a boat safely, operators must pay close attention to the waters, the weather, other boats in the area, and their passengers. If operators do not look for early signs of dangerous conditions, such as inclement weather, passengers could be at risk.
- Improper lookout: Every boat needs a person who is constantly on the lookout for hazardous situations. The purpose of the lookout is to avoid conditions that could lead to an accident. If the person appointed as the lookout is not paying attention, collisions can occur.
- Operator inexperience: Boat operators need to undergo proper training and education to pilot their vessels safely. Unfortunately, not all operators have the necessary skill or experience to operate a boat. As a result, catastrophic accidents can occur.
- Excessive speed: To ensure vessel safety, boat operators must maintain a safe speed at all times. If an operator pilots the boat at an excessive or uncontrollable speed, he or she can lose control and easily collide with other vessels.
- Alcohol and drug use: Under no circumstances should a boat operator pilot his or her vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These substances greatly impact reaction time, judgment, concentration, and other skills that are necessary to safely pilot a boat.
What to Do After a Boating Accident?
The moments during and after a boating accident can be frightening. Knowing the steps to take after the accident can help you protect yourself and others on the water.
- If you are in an accident and the vessel is still afloat, see if you or another passenger requires medical attention. Call 911 for emergency services as soon as possible.
- If a person falls overboard, help him or her onto the boat as quickly as you can. Move the boat out of harm’s way and wait for the Coast Guard to help.
- If the boat is sinking or is no longer intact, climb on top of the wreckage if you can. Signal for help from other operators on the water and notify emergency services as soon as possible.
- Make sure that you and others on the boat have the appropriate safety equipment, such as life vests.
- Do not leave the scene of the accident, especially if anyone has injuries.
You may have the right to file a lawsuit against the person responsible for the wreck. To secure your right to compensation, you will need to preserve evidence and seek the help that you need.
- Report the accident to the Coast Guard and collect information from the responding personnel.
- Gather the names and contact information of everyone involved in the accident and any eyewitnesses.
- Ask the boat operators involved in the accident for their insurance information, as well as the registration and identification numbers of their vessels.
- Seek immediate medical attention and save all records related to the injury and treatment, even if you do not feel hurt.
Once you receive medical attention, contact a Portland boating accident lawyer. Your attorney will explain your legal options and represent you in your claim against the negligent party.