Riding a personal watercraft (PWC), like a Jet Ski, can be an exhilarating experience but it can also be very dangerous. Inexperienced or inebriated operators can find themselves in a Jet Ski accident with one wrong move. According to the U.S. Coast Guard in their Recreational Boating Statistics report, there were more than 764 injuries and 808 deaths on personal water crafts and jet skis in 2011 alone.

What is a Personal Watercraft or PWC?

Personal Water Crafts (PWC) are recreational water vehicles operated by a standing driver. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) classifies PWCs as Class A inboard motor vessels which come with a list of safety requirements including proper signaling devices and specific manufacturing standards. PWCs must be registered with the state and must obey the Nautical Rules of the Road. Personal watercrafts are often referred to by their brand names such as Jet Ski®, Sea Doo®, WaveRunner® and Wet Jet®. Please note that “Jet Ski” is a brand name and is often wrongly used to refer to any type of personal watercraft.

What are Washington State Laws for Operating a PWC?

There are many Washington State PWC laws aimed at reducing accidents on the water. Boaters must be at least 14 years old to legally operate a Jet Ski type personal watercraft and it is illegal to lease, hire, or rent a personal watercraft to anyone under 16 years of age. Before you head out for an adventure on the water you should familiarize yourself with the rules of the road, water-way right of way laws, how to avoid the most common Jet Ski accident (a head on collision) and always wear a life jacket.

The Most Common Causes of Jet Ski Accidents:

  • Inexperienced drivers
  • Operator error
  • Driver distractions
  • Reckless driving or speeding
  • Lack of proper protective equipment
  • Lack of jet ski operator instruction and training
  • Operator boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol
    • Operators could be cited for Boating Under the Influence (BUI) and could face criminal charges, especially if they cause an accident resulting in significant injuries, damage, or deaths.
  • Negligence of another jet ski operator, personal water craft operator, or boat operator
  • Inadequate instructions and warnings about the risks associated with the safe use of PWCs
  • Unsafe design or defects in the watercraft or jet ski
  • Many jet skis and personal watercraft have inherent flaws which can lead to serious injuries and death including being greatly overpowered and lacking automatic deactivation in case of distress.

The Most Common Jet Ski Injuries Include:

  • Broken bones
  • Amputations
  • Concussions
  • Wrongful death
  • Burns
  • Serious neck and back injuries
  • Fractured ankles
  • Dislocated orbital sockets
  • Damaged ear drums
  • Broken wrist
  • Brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries

If you are seriously injured in a Jet Ski or PWC accident you should seek immediate medical treatment from a qualified medical professional. It may be important that an MRI, CT and Neurology reports be conducted to determine the scope of your injuries. Document the details of the injury and all medical treatments received as soon as you are able.

I Was Injured In a Jet Ski Accident and I am Thinking of Suing for Damages. What Could I Receive?

Although state law may vary, it is possible that you could receive damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning ability, mental anguish, and loss of companionship, support, or consortium.

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!

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