Boating Accidents 101: What You Need to Know

Boating Accidents 101: What You Need to Know

Summer is right around the corner, which means boating season will soon be in full swing. Before you head out to Lake of the Ozarks for some boating fun, make sure you’re well-versed in an all-too-common occurrence: boating accidents.

More Common Than You Think

Although we don’t hear about boating accidents as often as we do car accidents, they’re nevertheless extremely prevalent. There were 169 boating crashes in the state of Missouri in 2017, with 10 of those crashes being fatal. Most boating accidents occur during the summer months from June through August.

If you’re one of many who will flock to Lake of the Ozarks this summer, make sure you understand the basics of boating safety. In the past eight months alone, there have been 23 accidents on Lake of the Ozarks, with five of them being serious or fatal. Review the information below to ensure you have a safe summer.

What Causes Boating Accidents?

When you think of boating accidents, you might picture a storm-tossed vessel battling high winds and dangerous tides. In reality, however, most boating accidents occur in smaller, open boats on inland waters during the day with favorable weather conditions. Below are the most common reasons boating accidents occur:

  1. Operator inattention. When boat operators do not remain vigilant, they may not spot oncoming objects or hazards under the surface, leading to a collision or other accident.

  1. Inexperienced operators. Boating operators not only need to drive the vessel safely, they also have to know how to handle emergency situations.

  1. Excessive speed. Though waterways may seem open and clear, it’s critical to maintain a safe speed, as there may be unseen dangers below the water’s surface.

  1. Impaired operator. Many states have legal limits for boaters’ blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In Missouri, the legal limit for boaters is 0.1%. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, boating and drinking increases boating fatalities by approximately 34%.

  1. Equipment failure. Just as with a car, boat owners should ensure their boat is functioning properly and does not require any maintenance or repairs before embarking.

  1. Violating navigational rules. Waterways have rules just like roads. Not understanding or following waterway rules can lead to crashes with other vessels.

  1. Weather. Boaters should always check weather forecasts before heading out on the water and should never embark when storms are forecast.

  1. Force of waves or wakes. A wake is the disturbance of water from a boat’s hull. The force of a large wake or wave can cause accidents. Always be aware of surrounding boats and water conditions.

Prepare for Summer Safety on Lake of the Ozarks

Many boating accidents involve capsizing, swamping, or someone falling overboard. Capsizing is when a boat turns on its side or flips completely over. Swamping is when a boat stays upright and fills with water. Read the tips below to prevent these events from happening:

  • Make sure all passengers are wearing life jackets while the boat is underway.

  • Don’t allow anyone to sit on the gunwale, bow, seat backs, or any other area not designed for seating.

  • Don’t overload the boat with passengers and gear.

  • Keep the boat’s center of gravity low by not allowing passengers to stand or move around while the boat is underway.

  • When anchoring, secure the anchor line to the bow rather than to the stern.

What to Do if You’re Involved in a Boating Accident

Boating operators are at fault if their negligence caused a boating accident. Victims injured in boating accidents may sue the negligent party for property damage and medical expenses. Additionally, the at-fault boater may face criminal liability, especially if they were operating their vessel under the influence of drugs or alcohol or violated the safety standards mentioned earlier. If you’re involved in a boating accident, follow the steps below to protect your rights:

  1. Submit an accident report. This varies by state, but typically, the report must be submitted to the applicable state agency that regulates boats, the U.S. Coast Guard, or both. If any injuries or deaths result from the accident, the report must be filed within 48 hours. If the accident only caused property damage, the report may be filed within 10 days.

  1. Find out if the other boater has insurance. Some jurisdictions require boaters to carry insurance, which may fund any settlement or judgment you win against the negligent boater.

Since boating laws and regulations vary by state, it’s important to contact a personal injury attorney who’s knowledgeable in your state’s laws and can assist you settle your case successfully.

Hire the Right Team

Lake of the Ozarks is a popular summer destination for avid boaters and those who consistently practice safe boating guidelines should have a fun and incident-free summer on Lake of the Ozarks. But sometimes, circumstances outside of our control cause unfortunate accidents on the water, which can lead to life-altering injuries. If this happens to you, don’t let your rights be violated.

Our St. Louis personal injury attorneys at Cantor Injury Law are well-versed in boating accident law, and we’ll help you navigate through the steps to take if you’ve been injured in a boating accident. We have an exceptional track record when it comes to righting the wrongs of insurance companies and others who try to cheat injured victims out of the money they deserve.


Don’t settle for less! Our team at Cantor Injury Law can help you win. Contact our office today at (314) 485-4005 for a free case consultation!

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