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.

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.