Alabamians love recreational boating almost as much as they love College Football. From Lake Wilson to Mobile Bay to the deep waters of the Gulf, we like to spend time on a boat with family and friends. However, carelessness or lack of safety gear can quickly change the perfect day into a perfect nightmare. For example:
- Three men returning from a day of fishing in the Gulf took a shortcut and hit a sandbar. One was killed and two were injured.
- Two groups of friends were partying on the Intercoastal Waterway on separate boats. The trailing boat ran up on top of the first boat. Two passengers died.
Alabama Boating Accident Statistics
Boating accidents like these in Alabama are not uncommon, unfortunately, but many of them can be prevented. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s “2018 Recreational Boating Statistics” report, 66 boating accidents in Alabama caused 17 deaths, and resulted in hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in property damage. The number of injuries was even higher in 2017, at 70 boating accidents and 21 deaths.
Based on national annual statistics, this report provides information about the cause and effect of recreational boating accidents.
- In the U.S., 4,463 recreational boating accidents involved 701 deaths, 2,903 injuries, and approximately $49 million dollars of property damage.
- Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 15% of deaths.
- Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
- Where the cause of death was known, 80% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims, 83% were not wearing a life jacket.
Laws Controlling Recreational Boating in Alabama
According to Alabama boating laws, all operators of motorized recreational boats, including canoes or kayaks that have attached trolling motors, are required to have an Alabama boater safety certification.
The law makes it illegal to:
- Operate in an unlawful and dangerous manner by boating recklessly or carelessly, speeding, overloading with passengers, overpowering your boat, and allowing passengers to ride on the bow
- Operate with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more, or under the influence of a controlled substance
- Obstruct navigation
- Operate without required safety equipment such as navigation lights and personal flotation devices
- Violate Homeland Security restrictions
- Violate waste, oil, and trash disposal laws
- Violate the law requiring registration of your boat.
These laws are enforced by the Alabama Marine Police and other law enforcement officials who are authorized to check your registration and safety equipment, such as the United States Coast Guard. Violations may be punishable by fines and loss of boater safety certification.
What Must I Do if I Have an Accident in My Recreational Boat?
First, stop your vessel.
Second, assist the injured and those in danger, unless doing so would endanger your vessel or passengers.
Third, give in writing your name, address and vessel information to anyone injured and to owners of damaged property.
Fourth, file a report with the Marine Police within ten days if the accident caused death, serious injury, or property damage of more than $2,000.
If you or someone you care about is involved in a boating accident due to someone’s negligence, contact the experienced boat accident lawyers at Clay, Massey & Associates for a FREE initial consultation. We have the necessary skills and experience to help get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 251-433-1000 or click the Live Chat link on our site!