For those lucky enough to enjoy some fun and sun on the water, there is nothing better than zipping around the lake in a boat and experiencing the spray of the water on your face and the wind blowing through your hair. For others, a quiet evening anchored on the water and experiencing the rock of the boat and the quiet of nature is enough. Unfortunately for some, a weekend on the lake can have a tragic ending. For too many Indiana families, a day on the lake results in a devastating accident, injury, or even death.
Earlier this year the US Coast Guard released its 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics and the numbers are sobering to anyone who operates a boat on Indiana waterways. The statistics reveal a troubling trend in injuries and deaths that occur in our nation’s waterways, and more troubling, here in Indiana. The full report outlines the details of the more than 600 people who lost their lives in boat-related accidents nationwide in 2014.
The report notes that the vast majority of those who died (84%) were not wearing life vests. A surprising number of those injured were in smaller boats, which were less than 21 feet long.
More than 11 million watercraft are registered in the United States. To think that 600 people lost their lives with that many boats, canoes, and kayaks on the water is reassuring, however the truth is that for most areas in the country the boats are on the water for a very short season.
For those boaters in Indiana, 2014 was a difficult year with 40 boating accidents resulting in 9 Indiana fatalities. This was a dramatic increase over the prior two years, in which Indiana saw 2 fatalities in 2012 and 5 deaths in 2013.
According to the US Geological Survey, Indiana has nearly 600 square miles of water covering its surface (1.6%). The rivers, lakes, and waterways across Indiana are often crowded with boaters, especially during the weekends and holidays. For those who are not careful and aware, the danger can be great. Boaters drinking too much, operating their vehicles in a reckless manner, and risky behaviors can result in tragic consequences.
If you are heading out on the water any time soon, take these simple precautions:
• Wear a live vest at all times. Even if you are an excellent swimmer, a boating accident can result in a head injury and unconsciousness, making it impossible to swim.
• Be aware of your surroundings. Always keep a look-out for other boaters and water traffic.
• Act responsibly. It may be up to you to keep others safe.
• Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption: Boating and alcohol do not mix.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury in a boating accident due to someone’s reckless actions, please contact the attorneys at the law firm of Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP. They will listen to your story and if possible, investigate the matter, and help file a claim on your behalf. Contact them today.