The thought of boating accidents in a Desert State might seem unreal to people outside of Utah. However, Utah has several lakes spread out across its large mass. These include Yuba Lake and Deer Creek Reservoir. These and other lakes provide an excellent respite from high temperatures in the summer. Sadly, this is also when boating accidents tend to increase across America.
Utah ranks among the deadliest states for boating accidents in the nation. Even more surprising is that the accidents and fatalities tend to happen in the most unlikely circumstances: good visibility and calm waters.
What Is a Boating Accident?
Any accident involving a boat would qualify as a boating accident, even if it did not collide with other water vessels. A significant percentage of accidents happen on boats. Some accidents also affect the occupants of the boats while out on the lake. Additionally, people often suffer injuries while entering or exiting the vessel at the dock.
If you experienced an accident with another water vessel, a boating accident attorney might still take the case. These are some additional vessels you can enquire about when you look for attorneys:
- Cruise ships
- Jet skis
What Causes Utah Boating Accidents?
The fact that boating accidents tend to occur at the most unlikely times raises the alarm for governing bodies in Utah. Consequently, they studied the trends of boating accidents and deaths and determined that alcohol use and excessive speeding played significant roles. However, there were other factors at play.
Boating Under the Influence
It is no secret that alcohol and drugs impair judgment. In fact, most people who abuse these substances tend to engage in high-risk activities. Driving while intoxicated is one of the most common examples. Since operating a boat requires some level of coordination, it should come as no surprise that boating under the influence is just as dangerous, if not more so.
For several reasons, operating a boat under the influence might not seem as dangerous as driving a car. First, boats travel at lower speeds than cars. Secondly, there are no roads and sometimes you have the lake to yourself. However, water is an unpredictable environment and the current might be stronger than anticipated. These conditions make it hard to control the vessel, even for sober operators.
Although boats do not travel as fast as cars, speeding is still a major concern. Considering that most accidents occur in good weather and visibility, it is easy to see how speeding might play a role. If operators cannot see what lies ahead, they are more likely to collide with something.
Even when operators can see what is ahead, they might misjudge the distance and speed of other vessels. Consequently, they might miscalculate the time required to stop or slow down, leading to a collision.
Speeding also increases the likelihood of flipping the boat. In calm water, this is not as big of a deal. However, it might be impossible to right the vessel in rough water.
One of the most common causes of boating accidents is operator error. This includes everything from failing to keep a proper lookout to making improper turns. In some cases, the operator might not have enough experience or training to operate the vessel safely.
Everyone has to start somewhere after purchasing a boat. However, some people rush too quickly into operating it solo or attempting to follow the crowd. Quite often, this ends in disaster. Sadly, distracted driving is also as much a problem on the water as on the roads.
Lack of Safety Equipment
Every boat should have specific safety equipment onboard, including life jackets and fire extinguishers. In some cases, the operator might not have this equipment. In other cases, the equipment might be defective or not properly maintained.
For example, imagine that a fire starts on the boat and the extinguisher does not work. The operator and passengers might not have time to escape before the vessel is engulfed in flames. Alternatively, the boat might sink, leaving everyone stranded in the water.
In addition to having adequate safety equipment, it is also crucial that this equipment is in good working order. For example, a lot of boats have GPS systems these days. If the GPS does not function properly, the operator might get lost or end up in treacherous waters.
The same is true of the boat’s engine. If the engine fails, the operator might be unable to control the vessel or get it to safety. Other examples of defective equipment include lights, horns, and flares.
How Can You Tell If You Have a Boating Accident Case?
Only a licensed attorney can tell you whether you have a boating accident case. Note that this does not guarantee you will win the case or receive a large settlement. However, an experienced attorney can tell you your chances of winning and estimate what he or she thinks the case might be worth to an insurance company or during a trial.
Here are some factors that contribute to a strong boating accident case:
- You have proof that the boater operated the vessel recklessly or even maliciously.
- You or other passengers suffered injuries during the accident.
- You or other passengers received medical attention.
- Someone lost his or her life during the boating incident.
- Law enforcement arrived at the scene, took statements and filed a report.
If you only suffered minor injuries or your losses were related to property damage, you might feel you do not have a strong case. However, an experienced attorney can work hard to ensure you receive compensation for your injuries and losses.
How Does a Boating Accident Lawyer Investigate a Case?
Most people have a general idea of how to investigate an accident on the road. You have traffic cameras, dash cams, CCTV cameras and tire imprints on the roadways. What happens on a lake or at a dock? How will your attorney know what to look for and how to piece the puzzle together?
The answer is that it all starts with the boating accident report. Much like a police report for a car accident, the boating accident report contains important information about what happened, where it happened and who was involved. Your attorney will likely request a copy of this report as soon as possible.
From there, your lawyer will begin the process of collecting evidence. He or she might review weather reports, take photographs of the scene and speak to witnesses.
In some cases, your attorney might even hire an accident reconstruction specialist. This is especially common in boating accidents where there are no eyewitnesses and it is unclear what happened. An accident reconstructionist can use the evidence to piece together a likely scenario for how the accident occurred.
Why Should You Hire a Utah Boating Accident Lawyer?
Personal injury lawyers often have experience in several types of traffic accidents on land. However, boating is a niche area and your chances might drastically improve if you work with an attorney who explicitly handles cases like these. The attorney might be an experienced boater and know firsthand what can cause things to go awry on the lake.
Hiring an experienced attorney also ensures you have a better chance of presenting a winning case than if you chose to go it alone. For example, after 30 years of serving clients at Siegfried and Jensen, our team has recovered more than $1.2 billion for clients who suffered injuries in boating accidents and other personal injury cases.
Would you like to see what we can do for you? Contact us to get started
Finding the Right Boat Accident Attorney for You
Leave the work to us. The boat accident attorneys at Siegfried & Jensen will work on your behalf to land a fair settlement that justly compensates you for the damages felt following a boating accident.
Siegfried & Jensen is your best choice for experienced Utah boat accident attorneys. When you team up with us you can expect the best:
- We’ll answer your questions and address your concerns throughout the entire process.
- We’ll pull together the information needed to build your case, including examining the accident scene and all boats involved, gathering and evaluating physical evidence and eyewitness testimony, etc.
- We’ll make sure the boat and insurance companies play by the rules and treat you fairly.
- We’ll help you get what you need to recover your old life or adapt to a new one.