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Greenwood Man Critically Injured in Personal Watercraft Crash

Jason Reese

A day of warm weather revelry turned tragic last week when a Greenwood man was involved in a boating accident in Jackson County. Joshua Smith, 24, was operating a personal watercraft at a high speed when he crashed into a dock. Both Smith and his passenger, 23-year-old Bridget Smith of Clayton, were ejected from the vehicle. Bridget was seriously injured and taken to the hospital, but her injuries were not considered life-threatening. Josh, however, was knocked unconscious during the accident and was found unresponsive and floating face down in the water. He was provided emergency aid at the site and then airlifted to a nearby hospital. The two injured individuals are not related.

Boating Accidents Cause Life-Changing Injuries

With warm weather finally returning, Hoosiers have been eager to get out and engage in their favorite summer recreational activities. Unfortunately, the return of boating season has already produced a number of tragic accidents that have seriously injured several people, as in the case noted above.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division reports an increase in both boating accidents and deaths in 2015. Interestingly, non-fatal boating injuries decreased in the same time frame. There were 4,158 accidents, resulting in 626 deaths, 2,613 injuries, and $42 million in property damage. June was the deadliest month for boating accidents, with July, May, and August closely behind.

There are many types of injuries caused by boating-related crashes. Drowning is a common cause of death during recreation boating accidents. Other injuries can include lacerations, amputations, hypothermia, and broken bones; however, the most common non-fatal injuries are head injuries. Head injuries often impact the injured and their families for the rest of their lives, requiring long-term care for traumatic brain injury, paralysis, and serious cognitive defects.

Causes of Boating Accidents

A large majority of boating accidents involve watercraft less than 21 feet in length. Open motorboats were the vessels most likely to be involved in an accident in 2015. In fact, more accidents involved open motorboats than the next two types of vessels combined. Open motorboats, personal watercraft, and cabin motorboats accounted for nearly 80% of boating accidents last year.

Accidents happen for a variety of reasons, whether they be related to human error, mechanical malfunction, or bad weather. The most common primary contributing factors in 2015 boating accidents were:

  • Operator inattention;
  • Operator inexperience;
  • Improper lookout;
  • Excessive speed;
  • Alcohol use;
  • Navigation rules violation.

Alcohol use played a role in a very large majority of accidents last year, as well as in years past. Accidents are common in the late afternoon, when a combination of sun, water recreation, and alcohol combine to slow reaction times and inhibit proper judgment significantly.

Were You Injured in a Boating Accident?

If so, the experienced attorneys at Wagner Reese would like to speak to you. We will fight on your behalf to recoup costs for medical services, therapeutic services, lost wages, property loss, and pain and suffering. If you have lost a loved one due to the wrongful actions of a watercraft operator, our wrongful death lawyers can help you ensure financial security for your family moving forward. Call us today for a risk-free, no-cost consultation at (888) 204-8440.

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