Fishing boat accidents account for many of the serious and fatal water injuries endured each year. In fact, per the U.S. Coast Guard there were nearly 5,000 recreational fishing boat accidents in the United States in 2008. These accidents caused more than 700 deaths, 3,000 injuries and $54 million in property damage. Boats loaded incorrectly are a common cause of fishing boat accidents; it can lead to capsizing and people falling in the water. Fishermen should heed the posted recommendation for weight of cargo and passengers that is posted on their boat; many fishing boat accidents are caused by overloading. Compounding the problem is that so few fishermen wear lifejackets; these safety devices can reduce some of the risk of falling overboard.
Fishing Boat Accident Risk Factors
- Areas with strong currents or extremely cold water.
- Choppy water is very dangerous to flat-bottomed boats, as they are less stable than boats with a v-shaped hull.
- Boats less than sixteen feet in length are more prone to tipping over, so it is especially important to load these boats correctly.
- Jumping onto a boat; always step on board carefully in the center of the boat.
- Gear should be distributed evenly around the boat, so one end of the boat isn’t weighted down unevenly.
- Avoid overloading the stern, as this area tends to sink a little anyway when the boat is in motion.
- Do not stand in a small boat, as this can exacerbate any imbalances.
- Inclement weather, which can come on suddenly causes many fishing boat accidents every year. Check the local forecast before heading out for a fishing trip.
- Before you set out for the day, make sure that all required fishing gear and a first-aid kit are loaded into the boat so you don’t need to take an unexpected trip back to shore.
- Familiarize yourself with the boat’s safety equipment.
- Avoid standing in the boat for prolonged periods of time.
- Never overload the boat and keep the weight as evenly distributed as possible.
- Do not consume drugs or alcohol before or during boating. Over half of all drowning accidents occur to people who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Keep your boat a safe distance away from low water dams and watch for signs that indicate restricted areas. If you are in a shallow area travel slowly.
- Do not set out in a storm. If you are already out on the water and see a storm coming put on your life jacket and travel to shore as cautiously as you can.
- If you boat at night or before dawn, turn on the boat’s lights so other boaters can see you.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!