Numbers released by the U.S. Coast Guard show a dramatic increase in the rate of deaths arising from recreational boating accidents. According to the report, there were 767 recreational boating fatalities in 2020, marking a 25.1 percent increase from the previous year. The number of fatalities per 100,000 vessels rose to 6.5, the highest number of deaths in recent history.
The most common vessels involved in fatal boating accidents were:
- Open motorboats
- Personal watercraft
- Cabin motorboats
The Coast Guard cited operator error as the most prevalent cause of fatal accidents. Such errors take many forms, from excessive speed to improper lookout and machinery malfunction.
Safety knowledge makes a difference
The rate of accidents for those who had undergone boat safety training was markedly less than for people who were not as aware of boating dangers and how to avoid them. Lifejackets remain a must. In fatal accidents in which it was known whether the victim was wearing a life jacket or not, 86 percent were not wearing one.
“It’s crucial for boaters to wear a life jacket at all times because it very likely will save your life if you enter the water unexpectedly,” a high-ranking Coast Guard official said. “The Coast Guard reminds boaters to make sure that life jackets are serviceable, properly sized, and correctly fastened.”
Families wonder where to turn
For every boating fatality, there are surviving family members who wonder what went wrong. The search for answers sometimes reveals negligent parties aside from the drowning victim. Answers do not always reveal themselves easily. It may be necessary to conduct a thorough investigation into the accident to determine how it happened and to identify all of the parties who contributed to the dangerous situation.
If a reckless boater, a rental company, boat manufacture or other party contributed to your loved one’s death, you have legal rights. An attorney experienced in wrongful death and maritime injury claims can help you explore all of the legal options available to you.