Boat accidents can be a traumatic experience. The fact that you’re on a boat makes you vulnerable to injuries that you wouldn’t necessarily suffer on dry land. However, it’s the type of boat accident in which you’re involved that will really impact the extent of your injuries. You can protect yourself from unintentional and painful injuries by knowing the different types of boat accidents and why they happen.
1. Collision With Vessel
Boat accidents, by definition, don’t necessarily have to involve a collision. However, a leading cause of boat accidents in Miami is a collision with another vessel. In 2017, the primary cause of more than 28 percent of boat accidents in Florida was a collision between two vessels.
There are many reasons why two boats would collide, including:
- Operator inexperience
- Failure to maintain a safe distance from other vessels
- Failure to pay attention
- Distractions, including electronic devices and other passengers
- Boating under the influence
- Ignoring local safety laws and regulations
- Severe weather conditions, and
- Congested waterways.
2. Collision With Fixed Object
Boat accidents don’t always have to involve more than one vessel. Many accidents actually involve a single watercraft. In 2017, the primary cause of 18 percent of the boat accidents in Florida was a collision with a fixed object.
In most cases, collisions with fixed objects can be avoided if the boat operator pays attention and uses caution. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Boats frequently crash into fixed objects, including rocks and posts, because operators become distracted or simply fail to pay attention to their surroundings.
Running aground is another common type of boat accident in Miami. In 2017, grounding was the primary cause of nearly 5 percent of all reported boat accidents. Grounding occurs when water no longer separates a boat from objects below. The bottom of the boat literally makes contact with the seafloor, rocks, reef, or other materials below sea level.
Running aground can be incredibly dangerous. The impact of the crash can send passengers flying, and the structure of a boat can be severely compromised. Grounding can become much more severe when an operator does not handle the situation properly. While reversing the vessel seems like the best solution, it can often do more harm than good.
Common causes of grounding and grounding-related injuries include:
- Inexperienced operators
- Riding in restricted waters
- Ignoring safety buoys and signals
- Unexpected waves or surges
- Harsh weather
- Unmarked hazards, and
- Failure to pay attention to water depth.
4. Collision With a Person or Floating Object
Some boat accidents happen when a vessel collides with a person or a floating object. These accidents tend to be particularly devastating for the person (or object) that the boat has struck. These boating accident victims are much more likely than others to sustain catastrophic injuries, including paralysis, amputation, and even death.
However, a boat can also sustain significant damage in these types of accidents. The sheer force of the crash can cause passengers to trip, slip, or fall overboard. Passengers who do not wear safety gear, including lifejackets, may be at risk of serious injury.
Negligence is a common cause of this type of boat accident. However, operator negligence isn’t the only reason a vessel may collide with a person or a floating object. Other causes can include:
- Limited visibility
- Harsh weather conditions
- Choppy water
- Swimmers outside of designated swim areas, and
- Boating at night.
Capsizing occurs when a boat turns on its side or upside down in the water. In many cases, capsizing is actually a secondary cause of injury in a boat accident. Boats are prone to capsizing when they are involved in other types of boat accidents.
For example, it’s very possible for a boat to capsize after it collides with another vessel or a fixed object. The force of the crash may force the boat onto its side. In other cases, damage to the structure of the vessel in a crash can cause it to take on water and begin to turn.
Passengers on a boat are at an increased risk of suffering water-related injuries (e.g., drowning, hypothermia) when a boat capsizes. The risk of other serious injuries, often caused by motors or propellors, is also much greater.
Get Help From Our Personal Injury Lawyers
Are you struggling with an injury after a Miami boat accident? Is someone else to blame? Contact our experienced personal injury lawyers in Miami to learn about your legal options. You may have the right to demand compensation. Our attorneys can help you maximize your recovery. Call to schedule a free consultation today.