Danger in the Water - The Threat of Being Struck by a Boat

For many, life in Northwest Florida is all about the water. Boating for profit or for pleasure is truly a way of life. With so many people spending so much time afloat, injuries and even deaths on/around boats are also a reality. When these accidents stem from someone else's negligence, our lawyer is here to help. In past blog entries, we have examined the threat of boat fires, propeller strikes, speeding on the water, and boating while intoxicated. Today, we look at cases in which the boat itself becomes the source of injury, examining accidents including an individual struck by a boat including instances of "boating hit-and-run."

A father/son day on the water turned tragic, leaving a 12-year-old in critical condition after a "hit-and-run" boat accident. WJHG reports that the Crestview boy was swimming with his father at approximately 7:45 PM on Saturday near Choctaw Beach in Choctawhatchee Bay. While the father cast a net, the boy explored further from shore with a mask and snorkel. During his swim, he was struck by a boat that continued travelling after the collision. The father told officials he got a good look at the boat which was light in color with a black upward motor.

After the impact, the father carried his son to shore and flagged down a driver who telephoned 911. The boy was airlifted to Pensacola's Sacred Heart Hospital. He underwent surgery and his injuries are still deemed severe. Florida's Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating.

Notably, less than a month earlier, a snorkeler was hit and killed off Florida's Atlantic Coast. WPTV reported that two boats were pulling into Jupiter Inlet when one struck two snorkelers. One snorkeler later succumbed to his injuries. The second was transported to Jupiter Hospital where she was treated and released.

Statistics on People Hit By Boats

With at least two significant "struck by boat" incidents in Florida during June, we were left wondering how common such accidents are in the U.S. This May, the U.S. Coast Guard ("USCG") released Recreational Boating Statistics 2013, an annual report covering the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 5 territories. In 2013, the USCG tallied 4,062 recreational boating accidents involving 560 deaths and 2,620 injuries. Narrowing the focus, Table 17 examines the specific events involved in boating accident, looking at the first, second, and third elements in an accident.

A person being struck by a boat was the first event in 26 accidents, the second in 207 accidents, and is listed 18 times as a third event. In total, a person was struck by a boat 251 times in 2013(the study does not look beyond the first three events). There were 24 deaths and 309 injuries associated with people being struck by boats in 2014, a bit of a decrease from 30 deaths and 319 injuries in 2012.

If you were injured after being struck by a boat and the collision was caused by someone else's negligent or wrongful acts, you may be entitled to money damages. We can help. Call to arrange a free consultation.

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