For those of us in and around the Portland area, living close to the Willamette and Columbia Rivers and their many tributaries means we have superior access to these ready recreational activities. Whether you choose to water ski, jet ski, wakeboard, fish or just take a pleasure cruise, enjoying the water can be fun and relaxing. Still, there is an ever-present risk of watercraft incidents. While they are preventable, users often act irresponsibly by failing to know the rules of the waterway, driving recklessly, speeding, drinking excessively or not paying attention. Any of these negligent acts combined with a powerful machine on water can, unfortunately, produce grievous injuries and even death.
The U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that the fatality rate–a measure of the number of deaths against the number of registered recreational boats in the U.S.–increased from 5.3 in 2007 to 5.6 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational boats in 2008. During that time, the Coast Guard recorded 709 deaths, 3,331 injuries and approximately $54 million dollars in damage to property, stemming from 4,789 recreational boating accidents. Not paying attention, careless operation, not having a proper lookout on the boat, inexperience and poor passenger and/or skier behavior rank as the top contributing factors to incidents on the water. Alcohol consumption also remains a major concern in fatal boating accidents and is listed as the leading contributing factor in 17% of the deaths, according to the Coast Guard. Their report indicates that boater safety courses and wearing a life jacket greatly reduce the risk of incidents and drowning.
As of 2009, all powerboat operators on Oregon waterways are required to carry the Boater Education Card (boating license). Boat owners and operators are responsible for the safety and well-being of those on board their craft, and may be held liable for harm caused to passengers. The vast majority of boating incidents are due to negligence. Only 9% are caused by equipment or machinery failure. Proving the driver of the boat or watercraft was negligent often requires investigation beyond what might be done by local authorities. Additionally, depending on the waterway location, the jurisdiction might be federal, rather than county-level. To ensure you receive adequate legal representation, it is essential you hire a personal injury lawyer with experience in boating injury cases. I will work for you to guarantee maximum compensation for your case.