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Drunk & Distracted Boaters Can Put Paddle Boarders At Risk

Jason Reese


  • Hoosiers have been busy enjoying their favorite summer recreational activities, including a popular new water sport involving stand up paddle boards.
  • Unfortunately, the U.S. Coast Guard says an increase in the self-propelled boating trend has already produced a number of tragic accidents that have seriously injured several people after larger boats collide with paddle board operators.
  • There are many types of injuries caused by these crashes including drowning. Other injuries can include lacerations, amputations, hypothermia, and broken bones; however, the most common non-fatal injuries are head injuries that often impact the injured and their families for the remainder of their lives.
  • Alcohol and distracted motor boat operators play a role in a majority of these accidents because of their slower reaction times and inability to see or quickly stop for the small vessels in the water.

Paddle Board Riders Injured as Result from Drunk or Distracted Boaters

Paddle boards and other self-propelled water crafts are quickly growing in popularity amongst Indiana water recreationists. In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) says the usage of these personal water vessels is up nearly 10 percent this season and numbers are expected to surpass the amount of powered boats in coming years. Stand up paddle board (SUP) riders are the most vulnerable persons on the water because they are left unprotected against a collision with a boat or personal water crafts such as a Jet-Ski which travel outside of marked swimming zones. The USCG has determined that when these specialty boards are operated outside a surfing or swimming area, they will be considered “vessels” under USCG regulations and the following rules will apply.

  • Each paddler 13 years of age or older must have a USCG-approved Type I, II, III, or appropriate Type V life jacket. It is strongly recommended to be worn.
  • A child 12-years old or younger must wear their USCG-approved life jacket and be of an appropriate size and fit for the wearer.
  • Belt pouch-type inflatable float devices must be worn.
  • A whistle or other sound producing device must be carried.
  • After sunset, operators need to have a flashlight, or similar lighting device, to warn other boaters.

Motor boats and large sail vessels have the right of way over paddle boards, kayaks and all types of SUP crafts.

Boaters Involved in Water Accidents Must Abide by The Law

Boat operators also need to be on watch for these smaller float devices to not cause it’s capsizing and risk of drowning to the paddler and also avoid a collision. Being a distracted driver in any situation is always bad, but while operating a fast speed boat amongst unprotected individuals standing or sitting on a floating board will only end in a devastating result. Help will be required, including emergency medical attention, immediately. In Indiana, boat operators involved in a boating accident must stop and remain at the scene to give assistance and report the accident to authorities as quickly as possible. The operator must also file an accident report form to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources within 24 hours of the accident if:

  • A person dies or disappears, or
  • A person is injured or requires medical treatment, or
  • Damage to the boat and other property exceeds $750.

State-specific boating safety requirements say, “Failure to report a boating accident or collision which results in an injury to a person is a Class A misdemeanor. If the accident or collision results in serious bodily injury, or death of a person, the offense is a felony.”

Victims of boating accidents can hold a boat owner or the operator accountable for wrongful death or personal injury damages. Near-drowning can also cause serious injuries to the brain as well and leave victims and their families with financial hardships.

Receiving Compensation for Boating Injuries & Drowning Accidents

The experienced attorneys at Wagner Reese can fight on your behalf to recoup costs for medical services, lost wages, property loss, and pain and suffering. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of a watercraft operator, our wrongful death lawyers can support your claim to ensure financial security for your family moving forward.

Call us today for a risk-free, no-cost consultation at (888) 204-8440 or connect with us by submitting our online form. We do not charge any money upfront.


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