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Boating Fatalities Increased During Pandemic

Coast Guard Reports on Boating Fatalities

According to the United States Coast Guard, there were 767 reported boating fatalities in the U.S. during 2020. This number represents slightly more than a 25% increase from the previous year. This information was contained within a Coast Guard report that looked at boating incidents that resulted in at least one of the following: 

  • Disappearance
  • Death
  • Injuries requiring medical treatment (more than just first aid)
  • Property damage to the vessel or other property of at least $2,000
  • Total loss of a vessel

The top contributing factor to boating fatalities during 2020 continued to be alcohol, which was involved in more than 100 deaths Р18% of the total number of boating fatalities. 

Boat Sales Increased During Pandemic

Evidence revealed that boating activity significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. More boats were sold, people were taking out boating insurance, towards which there were more claims. Additionally, there were increased calls for boat towing assistance. Because there were more people out on boats, the risk of accidents, injuries, and deaths also jumped.

California Near the Top for Boating Accidents

Of all the boating accidents nationwide, California had the second-highest number, at 493. Our state trailed only Florida, which had 804 reported accidents, according to Coast Guard representatives. The California accidents included 39 fatalities, 37 of which were directly caused by the boat accident. There were 311 people who sustained injuries, and close to $7 million was reported in property damage. Nationwide, property damage caused by boating accidents totaled $62.5 million.

Causes of Boating Accidents

The Coast Guard report identified five primary factors that contributed to boating accidents. They were:

  • Operator inexperience
  • Operator inattention
  • Excessive speed
  • Improper lookout
  • Machinery failure

Life Jackets are Essential to Prevent Boating Fatalities

The Coast Guard issued a reminder with its report that it is essential for boaters to wear a proper life jacket during the entire time they are on the water. If a boater unexpectedly enters the water, it could very well be a lifesaver. The personal flotation device needs to be functional, the correct size, and secured correctly in order to do its job. Seventy-five percent of the fatality cases that had a known cause of death were attributed to drowning, and of those, 86% of the people killed were not wearing life jackets.

Types of Vessels Involved in Boating Fatalities

Personal watercraft and cabin motorboats were involved in a lot of accidents. In terms of fatal boating incidents, the following types of vessels were most commonly involved:

  • Open motorboats (half of the fatal accidents)
  • Kayaks (fifteen percent)
  • Pontoon boats (nine percent)

State-Approved Boater Safety Courses

Boaters who have been convicted of a moving violation or boating under the influence offense are required to pass a state-approved boater safety course. A list of approved courses can be found at the State’s Division of Boating and Waterways website.

Watch the YouTube video. Below is a clip uploaded by the U.S. Coast Guard with some fundamental boater safety tips.

Boat Accident Attorney in Sacramento 

Hello, and thank you for reading. I’m Ed Smith, a boat accident lawyer in Sacramento, California. I represent residents of many areas within Northern California who have been injured due to the negligence or recklessness of another. The injuries sustained by people who have been involved in boating collisions can be severe and life-changing. Many times, boating accidents result in tragic wrongful deaths. If you or someone you love has been injured in a boat accident on the Sacramento River, American River, Folsom Lake, or any regional Northern California waterway, call us at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. We are happy to offer free and friendly legal advice.

Many of our prior clients have taken the time to write reviews of our legal services. They can be accessed through the links below:

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