Yakima Attorney Urges Boaters to Be Cautious

When the days get hotter and the ocean warms to the perfect temperature, Washington State residents and visitors alike swarm to the waters for all types of recreational activities. With over 150 miles of pristine coastline along the Pacific Ocean, and numerous freshwater lakes and rivers, boating is among the most popular summer sporting activities in Washington State. Unfortunately, the hot summer months also see a rise in injuries and deaths related to boating in the Evergreen State.

Boating Accident Statistics

Law enforcement agencies throughout the State of Washington report that there is an increase in emergency calls to 911 between July 4th and the Labor Day weekend. According to the United States Coast Guard, or USCG, fatal boating accidents go up five percent from July to August. Non-fatal accidents during 2011 doubled from June to July. These statistics are hardly surprising given the natural tendency of people to want to take advantage of hot summer days before they start to fade into autumn. The USCG reports that there were 93 boating accidents reported in Washington State for the year 2011, resulting in 15 deaths and 54 injuries. The vast majority of these injuries and deaths were preventable.

Causes of Boating Accidents

The time period with the highest percentage of boating accidents is from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. according to the USCG. Although anyone who enjoys boating is unlikely to avoid being out on the water during this time period, there are a number of things that you can do to help decrease the chance of being involved in a boating accident. First, anyone who plans to operate a boat is required, under Washington State law, to obtain a Boater Education Card. In order to qualify for the card, the driver must first take a boater safety course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. Classroom, hands-on and online courses can be located through the Washington State Parks website. Not only will completion of the course fulfill the qualifications for the Boater Education Card, but you will gain valuable information about how to stay safe while boating.

Statistics compiled by the USCG tell us that the most common causes of boating accidents are operator inattention or improper look-out. Between the two, they caused over 1,000 boating accidents in 2011. In some cases, this boils down to lack of experience on the part of the driver. In other accidents, this may be the result of other contributing factors, such as alcohol or drug use. Just like it is illegal to drive a vehicle on land when intoxicated, operating a boat while intoxicated is also a crime, not to mention being extremely dangerous to everyone on the boat and anyone in a nearby boat. Alcohol and drug use accounted for 129 deaths and another 250 injuries last year in boating accidents across the country. Excessive speed caused another 28 fatal accidents last year and resulted in 321 injuries. Most of these deaths and injuries could have been avoided had the drivers recognized how dangerous boating can be and how important it is to abide by the rules of the water.

Yakima-area boating accident attorney Mariano Morales urges everyone to stay safe this summer while out on the water. If you are involved in a boating accident and you feel that another party was at fault, you may be entitled to compensation for the damage sustained by your boat, as well as for any injuries you personally suffered in the accident. The Washington State boating accident attorneys at Mariano Morales Law are here to help. Contact the team today by calling (509) 853-2222 or by using our online contact form for your free initial consultation.