Boating accidents typically involve either PWCs or motor-driven boats, which can include sailboats with ancillary engines. Arizona law does not require boat operators to take an education course, though it is highly recommended. No one under the age of 12 may operate a vessel with an engine greater than 8 horsepower, unless a person at least 18 years of age is on board.
A boat operator’s failure to take a boating education course is not necessarily evidence of negligence, but any boat operator is expected to know and to follow the boating laws and rules of navigation. A boat operator is also expected to keep passengers safe, be on the lookout for other watercraft and hazards, and avoid accidents on the water.
Boating accidents occur for a number of reasons, including:
It is important to note that boats are considered motor vehicles, so operators are subject to the same implied consent and impairment level laws as motorists. Operating under the influence or with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08% or higher is unlawful and can subject the operator to arrest and loss of driver’s license.
Many victims of boating accidents suffer traumatic injuries from being ejected into the water because of speeding or erratic driving or intoxication. Some are rendered unconscious when they enter the water and drown or suffer brain injuries. Collisions with other vessels, channel markers, piers, docks, swimmers or divers or objects in the water can cause serious bodily injuries. There are numerous cases of boaters overcome by carbon monoxide from fumes emanating from the engine or who suffer burns or other injuries because of defects in the hull or equipment that lead to explosions.
Jet skis are an extremely popular type of personal watercraft, or PWC. These vessels resemble a motorcycle on water, where a single user is on a motor propelled device that skims along the water. The driver of a jet ski controls the speed and direction with handlebars.
The opportunity to race on a jet ski can be difficult to resist. Many accidents occur when a jet skier collides with a swimmer, another jet ski, channel marker, vessel, or object in the water. Impaired or intoxicated operators are another factor that can lead to an accident on the water.
The companies that rent out jet skis must ensure the users are of age, wearing personal floatation devices and know how to operate these devices.
Allowing an intoxicated person to use a jet ski, or permitting use during inclement weather, can constitute negligence as well. The jet skis also must be appropriately serviced and inspected so that they operate properly. If any of these responsibilities are neglected, then the rental company may be held liable for any resulting injuries to the user or anyone injured by the jet ski user.
Boating accidents are a unique feature of motor vehicle accident law. With an attorney who is well-acquainted and versed in Arizona’s laws and rules governing the waterways, you can be assured you will receive competent representation and your best opportunity at obtaining the compensation your case deserves.