During the summer months, many people enjoy boating and other water-related activities on the lakes and rivers throughout the state of Wisconsin. However, these activities carry some degree of risk, and it is important to follow the proper safety procedures. Unfortunately, even when boat operators and passengers do everything they can to stay safe, they may still suffer serious injuries in boating accidents. If injuries occur because of someone else’s negligence, victims should work with an attorney to determine their legal options for recovering compensation.
Boat Accident Injuries
According to Wisconsin law, any boating incident involving injuries that require medical treatment other than basic first aid, fatalities, property damage of $2, 000 or more, or the loss of a boat must be reported to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In 2018, there were 108 boating incidents reported, and these resulted in 76 injuries and 21 fatalities. Boating accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, including:
- Alcohol use – The legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) that applies to the drivers of motor vehicles also applies to boat operators. A person who operates a boat with a BAC above .08% may face criminal charges related to boating under the influence (BUI). As is true in drunk driving accidents, a boat operator who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs may be held responsible for injuries caused to their own passengers or occupants of other watercraft who suffered injuries in a collision.
- Operator error – Boat operators may commit a wide variety of errors that can cause injuries. A person may collide with another boat, a swimmer, or a jet ski if they are not paying close attention to their surroundings or if they are inexperienced. Serious injuries can also occur is a person operates a boat recklessly, such as by exceeding posted speed limits.
- Weather conditions – Heavy rain, strong winds, or thunderstorms can impact a person’s ability to operate a boat safely. Injuries can occur to passengers if a boat operator did not take steps to avoid or account for severe weather.
- Overloading – A boat should not carry passengers or cargo in excess of weight limits for operating the vessel safely. Overloading can put a boat at risk of capsizing or sinking.
- Lack of proper equipment – Boat owners and operators should provide safety equipment for passengers and ensure that a boat is properly maintained. Lack of life preservers can result in drowning, and failure to carry a working fire extinguisher can result in burn injuries. People may also be injured if a boat’s engine malfunctions or if damage to a boat makes it unseaworthy.
Contact a Green Bay Recreational Vehicle Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured as a passenger on a boat or because of the negligence of a boat operator, the attorneys at Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd. can help you determine your legal options. We will work with you to ensure that you receive financial compensation that fully addresses your damages, including expenses related to medical care, income you have lost because of missed work, and pain and suffering. To arrange a free consultation, contact our Appleton boating accident attorneys today at 920-739-7366.