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Legal Help After Boating Accident Injuries

In Washington state, there are almost 4,500 lakes, ponds and reservoirs, many of which provide a perfect spot for people to take their boats out and enjoy a beautiful day on the water. But boat-related accidents are fairly common in Washington, and even the most experienced boaters can end up being involved in an accident that results in serious injuries.

Types Of Boats

In Seattle, there are many different types of boats that can be seen out on the waterways. Whether they’re being used for recreational or commercial purposes, they all carry risks:

  • Recreational boats: Recreational boats may be considered one category of boats, but within that category are many different types. Bowrider boats, pontoon boats, sailboats, trawler boats, and cabin cruise boats that have bathroom and sleeping areas can all be considered recreational boats. Some of these boats are meant for calmer waters, such as sailboats, while others are better at handling rougher waters, such as cabin cruisers.
  • Cruise boats: Cruise boats are often called cruise ships because they are very large luxury vessels that take passengers on longer journeys, often several nights onboard. These ships have many different amenities, including casinos, restaurants, nightclubs, and in some cases, even amusement and water parks. Many of the biggest names in cruise ships are now serving Seattle: Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, and Holland-America, to name a few.
  • Fishing boats: Fishing boats range in size and shape. The smallest boats usually feature a simple welded aluminum hull and they’re primarily used for freshwater fishing. These boats can be as little as eight feet long. From there, fishing boats move up in size and type from bass boats, center console boats, sport-fishing boats, and walk-around boats. These larger boats typically start at 18 feet and can reach more than 100 feet.
  • Ferries: Ferries are often called boats, but their size could categorize them as ships. These boats transport passengers and their goods (often cars) from one shore to another. These trips are usually quite short and only span a small body of water. In many cities, including Seattle, these ferries are part of the public transportation system. Seattle residents and visitors alike travel the Seattle-Bainbridge Ferry, which crosses Puget Sound between Seattle and Bainbridge Island. The Black Ball Ferry Line, which travels from Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia, is also a popular option for those wanting to go a bit farther for their trip.
  • Personal watercraft: Personal watercraft, including jet skis, are much smaller boats, suitable typically for just one or two people. Instead of sitting inside this watercraft, people sit on it, stand on it, or kneel on it. Jet skis, rightly enough, have an inboard jet engine, and are purely recreational vehicles meant for aquatic enthusiasts. While you may not consider jet skis “boats,” accidents involving them are still considered boat accidents.

When a boating accident happens because of an operator’s negligence, injured passengers can file a claim against those at fault to get compensation.

Common Boating Accidents

Many things can go wrong when you mix people, boats of any type, and a body of water:

  • Slip-and-falls: Slip-and-falls are the most common type of boat-related accidents, because boating, by its very nature, involves wet, slippery surfaces. Just because they’re common doesn’t mean they’re not serious. A fall on a boat can cause extensive bruising and swelling, lacerations, and broken bones. Depending on the cleanliness of the body of water and what the boat is being used for (fishing, etc.), even a small cut or scrape can become infected.
  • Getting caught in lines: There are a lot of lines (ropes) on a boat, particularly sailboats, and they are another common cause of injury. People can get their hands, fingers, or other limbs caught in a line, resulting in rope burns, fractures, cuts, lacerations, and even amputations. These accidents are often the result of a line being fastened improperly or incorrectly released under tension.
  • Head injuries: Head injuries are also very common in boats – especially sailboats. This can happen after a slip-and-fall, or it could happen as a result of the boom swinging in high winds.
  • Back injuries: On large fishing and cargo boats, winches are often used to haul up heavy loads. But in order to use those winches, workers need to bend over and wind them, often for long periods of time. This can result in overexertion, strains, and pulled muscles in the back.
  • Heat stroke: Being out in the sun all day is nice, until a person has gotten too much sun and suffers a sunburn or heat stroke as a result. Repeated sunburns contribute to skin cancer. Those suffering from heat stroke can feel agitated, confused, irritable, and experience seizures, coma, and delirium.
  • Drowning: Drowning or near-drowning accidents can happen all too easily on a boat. People can get knocked overboard, or a boat can capsize or sink. All people on a boat should wear lifejackets at all times.

While these injuries can happen to anyone, children are particularly vulnerable. It’s for this reason that Washington State requires children under the age of 13 to wear a lifejacket, otherwise known as a personal flotation device, at all times when on a boat.

Boat accidents often occur due to someone else’s negligence. Boat operators need to meet certain requirements to obtain a boat license and if they haven’t, that could make them guilty of negligence. If a part of the boat or the boat itself was defective, the boat or part’s manufacturer can also be held liable for any injuries the defect caused.

Contact An Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, contact a Seattle personal injury lawyer at Pendergast Law toll-free at 888-539-9211. We know Washington’s state laws on boating, and we’ll fight to ensure you get the compensation you and your family deserve.

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