Hazards of the Open Sea: Top Causes of Boating Accidents

There’s a certain romance to being out in the open sea. In fact, plenty of stories have portrayed the activity of boating with mystery and allure. What can be more profound than being alone out in sea, with only nature surrounding you? Unfortunately, reality paints a darker version of such fantasies.

As records from the U.S. Coast Guard suggests, recreational boating accidents continue to cause a significant number of injuries and fatalities every year. In fact, there were a total of 4,062 boating accidents that occurred in the year 2013. In these accidents, the U.S. Coast Guard reported 560 deaths and 2,620 injuries. Their report also noted that 77 percent of all fatalities were due to the victim drowning.

Why are these accidents prevalent? What hazards can boating enthusiasts expect while enjoying the open sea? The website of Houston personal injury accident lawyer Ali Mokaram cites the following circumstances that commonly lead to such catastrophic outcomes:

Error made by operator: While it may seem like the type of activity one would take on to escape from everyday troubles, recreational boating requires plenty of preparation and training. Risks and hazards are abundant in open water. Without proper training, an inexperienced operator might not be aware of how to respond to emergency situations.

Boating while intoxicated (BWI): The U.S. Coast Guard points to boating while intoxicated (BWI) as one of the common contributing factors to boating accidents. According to their data, about 16 percent of the recorded fatalities in 2013 were caused by an operator impaired by alcohol.

Mechanical malfunction or defect in boating equipment: Boating accidents can also happen due to mechanical failure. If a boat is defective or poorly-maintained, it might not be able to withstand harsh conditions that typically happen in the open sea.

Other common causes of boating accidents include operators riding at excessive speed, capsizing, and lack of proper forward watch. Excessive speeding and capsizing (when the boat turns over in the water) can cause operators and passengers to be thrown overboard. Meanwhile, an operator without proper help from a forward watch might not be able to see certain hazards that could be in their way.

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No-Zone Trucking Accidents

Among the many types of road accidents, possibly the most destructive of the lot are truck accidents. These heavy-duty vehicles that share the roads with smaller cars can cause serious damage and injuries to those around them when they get into an accident. According to the website of the Ausband & Dumont Law Firm, there are many ways that these trucks can get involved in an accident, and one of the reasons why they do is because of the “no-zone” areas.

Because of their sheer sizes, trucks have a number of blind spots where the truck driver is not able to see the vehicle or pedestrian. These zones can also refer to areas where smaller vehicles can be too close for to the commercial trucks which would prevent or hinder the driver’s capacity to maneuver effectively and stop safely. Many motorists are not aware of the no-zone areas of commercial trucks or are purposely doing unsafe or dangerous driving maneuvers that often result to truck accidents. Personal injury law firms have seen the great effect of each truck accident to those who have been involved in one: smaller vehicles are often the ones who take the majority of the damage and fatalities simply because of the size of these trucks. Furthermore, because commercial trucks are heavy and full of load, they require more distance to completely stop, and when collisions occur they frequently cause multiple car collisions.

What is more surprising about truck accidents is that a great majority of the fatal crashes that occurred between smaller vehicles and trucks are due to the errors or negligent driving of the smaller vehicle’s driver, and that most of these accidents occur regardless of any other outside factors such as weather, alcohol consumption, road conditions and many others. It is important for drivers of smaller vehicles to practice not only defensive driving, but also respect truck drivers no-zones so that they can have enough time to move their huge vehicles on the road and effectively avoid traffic.

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Unsafe Lane Changes can be Negligence

A lot of drivers have at one point or another swerved in a reckless manner to bypass a slower vehicle, evade an obstacle, or avoid missing an exit ramp. In most cases, this is done without untoward incident although it is worth a citation in most states because it is a violation of traffic safety regulations. However, more often than one would like, unsafe lane changes can kill.

This is what happened to a Chicago law enforcement probationer who was killed when his motorcycle hit a car that suddenly swerved in front of him to make a looming exit ramp. The car driver was cited, but investigations may find that he was driving recklessly and may face a wrongful death claim from the downed officer’s family. The officer was not wearing a helmet, and was declared dead on arrival at the hospital to where he was rushed.

As apparent from the articles on the website of the Mokaram Law Firm and most studies on the topic, motorcycle operators involved in motor vehicle accidents are 30 times more likely to be seriously injured or killed than a passenger in a car or other more protected vehicle. Fort Worth car accident lawyers would be quick to point out that this is a fact even when the motorcycle operator is a safe and responsible one.

But it is also a fact that many motorcycle accident fatalities are single-vehicle ones, indicating some type of reckless behavior such as making unsafe lane changes on the part of the operator. A Louisville car accident lawyer would examine the scene of a multi-vehicle accident to determine the degree of fault for all parties, because Kentucky applies a pure comparative fault rule to negligent accidents, where the plaintiff’s compensation is reduced by the degree of fault.

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