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Boat Crash Lawyer Serving Sun City

Arizona is a landlocked state well known for its desert landscapes. However, with more than 30 lakes and countless rivers and streams, Arizona is also a premiere boating destination. Scenic lakes in the Sun City area include Apache Lake, Bartlett Lake, Canyon Lake, Lake Pleasant, Saguaro Lake and Tempe Town Lake.

A fun and relaxing day on the water, however, can turn tragic when safe boating practices are not followed. Among all U.S. states, Arizona averages fifth in the total number of boating accidents and seventh for boating injuries.

The main causes of boat crashes include operator inexperience, operator inattention, reckless operation, and alcohol use. The rules of the water are not exactly the same as the rules of the road, but in both cases, failure by operators to follow rules and regulations is responsible for most accidents.

If you or a loved one was injured in a boating accident, please contact Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC and speak with a boating accident lawyer. Your initial consultation is free.

Top Causes of Arizona Boat Crashes

In a recent year, 95 Arizona boating accidents claimed 9 lives and resulted in 84 persons injured. While 95 accidents represents a five year low, there is still room for improvement. A good place to start is an understanding by boaters of what causes accidents. Among the top contributing factors to accidents on Arizona waters are:

  • Operator inexperience: Arizona does not require boaters to take a boating education class, although the state’s Game and Fish Department highly recommends it. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, only 13% of boating deaths occur on vessels where the operator had received formal boating safety instruction.
  • Operator inattention: Distracted driving has reached epidemic proportion on America’s roadways, and waterways also provide plenty of distractions, from wildlife to portable electronic devices to fellow boaters.
  • Passenger/skier behavior: A boat’s operator is responsible for all passengers—including those being towed. Rowdy passengers can distract the driver and obstruct the driver’s view, while reckless skiers can perturb other boaters. Both can increase the likelihood of an accident.
  • Reckless operation: Reckless boating activities include things like allowing passengers to ride on the bow, transom, or gunwales of a watercraft while in operation, splashing other watercraft on purpose, and failing to maintain a safe distance from other watercraft.
  • Alcohol use: Nationwide, alcohol contributes to about 1/3 of all fatal boating accidents. Driving a boat while under the influence is just as dangerous as driving a car while drunk, and the law reflects this: on land and on water, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .008% or higher is illegal.

Arizona’s top boating violations—which include operating under the influence, excessive speed, reckless operation, and riding on the bow, transom, or gunwales—are also the leading causes of Arizona boating accidents.

Sun City Boat Accident Injuries

The risk of drowning is ever present on the water. The Coast Guard reports that 77% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Eighty four percent of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. Arizona law requires all watercraft to be equipped with Coast Guard approved flotation devices.

Life jackets save lives, but they cannot protect against trauma. Boat injuries plunged dramatically from 1997 (4,555 injuries) to 2013 (2,620), as did the overall number of accidents (8,047 vs. 4,062). Still, given the severity of boating injuries, boaters can never be too safe. The primary injuries suffered by operators and passengers in a boat accident include the following:

  • Amputation
  • Broken bone
  • Burn
  • Concussion
  • Laceration
  • Sprain/strain
  • Internal organ injury
  • Spinal cord injury

Boating injuries are primarily suffered on motorboats, followed by personal watercraft (i.e., Jet Ski), pontoon boats, canoes, and sailboats. The primary accident types are collision (with another vessel or a fixed object), flooding, grounding, and skier mishap.

It is noteworthy that so called “paddlers”—or kayakers and canoers—are the fastest growing class of boats in Arizona. As they become more popular, their operators account for a growing share of boating injuries and deaths. Overall, boat registrations in Arizona have been falling since 1998.