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Boat Accidents

Michigan citizens love boating with almost 937,552 registered watercraft — the third highest number in the nation.

Most boaters take safety seriously. However, accidents and serious injuries can happen.  In 2015, the Coast Guard counted 4,158 accidents that involved 626 deaths, 2,613 injuries and approximately $42 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.

To protect your legal rights, you need a well-resourced law firm that is experienced with the complicated laws that cover boat accident legal claims. Studies have shown that injured parties represented by legal counsel obtain far greater recoveries than individuals who represent themselves.

If you or a loved one was injured in a boat accident, contact us immediately.

Submit a simple, free consultation form now. We are ready to help.

Get the Bernstein Advantage® today.

Source: http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/2016/05/17/us-coast-guard-releases-2015-accident-statistics/

Legal Resources

The following sections have more information on Boat Accidents:

  • Dangerous Operation of a Boat

    The Michigan legislature has adopted strict laws to promote safety on our waters for all users.

    Reckless operation of a vessel, or reckless manipulation of water skis, a surfboard, or similar device is activity that disregards the safety or rights of others or endangers the person or property of others. Some examples are:

    • Weaving your boat through congested waterway traffic or swerving at the last possible moment in order to avoid collision
    • Jumping the wake of another boat unnecessarily close to the other boat or when visibility around the other vessel is restricted
    • Chasing, harassing, or disturbing wildlife with your boat
    • Causing damage from the wake of your boat

    Failure to regulate speed

    • In excess of 55 mph, unless you are at least one mile offshore of the Great Lakes or Lake St. Clair
    • At greater than “slow-no wake speed” if any person is in the bow of a vessel without proper seating
    • Faster than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions (weather, vessel traffic, etc.)

    Improper distance

    • A shoreline (if operating in water less than 3 feet deep)
    • Any moored or anchored vessel
    • A dock or raft
    • Any marked swimming area or person(s) in the water

    If operating at greater than “slow-no wake speed,” personal watercraft must:

    • Stay at least 200 feet from any Great Lakes’ shoreline
    • Not cross within 150 feet behind any other vessel, except another personal watercraft

    Slow-no wake speed is the slowest speed at which it is still possible to maintain steering and does not create a wake.

    Improper direction is the failure to operate in a counter-clockwise direction except in areas marked by well-defined channels or rivers.

    Boating in restricted areas is operating within a restricted area clearly marked by buoys, beacons, diver down flags, etc.

    Riding on bow (the front of the boat) is illegal in Michigan if the boat is not equipped with bow seating and the vessel is operating at greater than “slow-no wake speed.” Persons are also not allowed to ride on the gunwale. While underway, persons on a vessel cannot sit, stand, or walk on any portion of a vessel not designed for that purpose.

  • Life Jacket Laws

    Who must wear a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) in Michigan?

    • Children less than 6 years of age must wear a Type I or Type II PFD when riding in the open deck area of a boat in Michigan
    • Each person 12 years of age or older operating, riding on or being towed behind a personal watercraft (jet ski) must wear a Type I, Type II, or Type III PFD (that is not an inflatable device) in Michigan
    • Each person less than 12 years of age riding or being towed behind a personal watercraft (jet ski) must wear a Type I or Type II PFD in Michigan

    What type of PFD do I need to carry on my boat in Michigan?

    • Boats less than 16 feet (including canoes and kayaks) must be equipped with one Type I, II, III, or IV PFD for each person on board.
    • The U.S. Guard requires all vessels less than 16 feet, used on the Great Lakes or connecting waterways, to carry one approved Type I, II, or III device for each person on board.
    • Vessels 16 feet and longer must carry one type IV, in addition to the Type I, II, or III for each person on board. (Canoes and kayaks over 16 feet are exempt from the Type IV requirement.)

    What are the differences between the types of PFD’s?

    • TYPE I: (Offshore Life Jacket) (22 lbs. Buoyancy) Best for open, rough, or remote water where rescue may be slow in coming.
    • TYPE II: (Near-Shore Buoyant Vest) (15.5 lbs. Buoyancy) Good for calm, inland water or where there is good chance of fast rescue.
    • TYPE III: (Flotation Aid) (15.5 lbs. Buoyancy) Good for calm, inland water or where there is a good chance of fast rescue.
    • TYPE IV: (Throwable Device) For calm, inland water with heavy boat traffic, where help is always nearby.

    By law, all life jackets (PFD’s) must be ready at hand and not enclosed in plastic bags or other containers.

  • Laws Regarding Alcohol and Drug Use

    Michigan boating law prohibits anyone from boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is also unlawful for the owner of a vessel to allow anyone else to operate their vessel if that person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

    The following conditions determine if you are boating under the influence:

    • If your blood alcohol concentration is 0.10% or greater by weight of alcohol as determined by a breath, blood, or urine test
    • If your blood alcohol concentration is greater than 0.07% but less than 0.10% by weight of alcohol as determined by a breath, blood, or urine test, a law enforcement officer can consider that fact along with other evidence in determining if you are under the influence

    Michigan law establishes the following penalties:

    • People arrested for boating under the influence are guilty of a misdemeanor
    • Upon a third conviction within 10 years, a person will be guilty of a felony
    • If a person boating under the influence causes great bodily injury or death of another person, he or she also will be guilty of a felony

    By operating a vessel on Michigan waters, you are consenting to be tested for alcohol or drugs, if arrested by a law enforcement official.

  • Accident and Injury Reports under Michigan Law

    The operator of a boat, or each person onboard, must report an occurrence without delay, by the quickest means available, to the nearest conservation officer, sheriff of the county or nearest state police post when:

    • A person dies
    • A person disappears from a vessel

    The operator or the owner of a vessel must file an Accident Report Form prepared by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:

    Within 48 hours if:

    • A person dies within 24 hours of the occurrence
    • A person loses consciousness or receives medical treatment or is disabled for more than 24 hours

    Within 5 days if:

    • Damage to the vessel and other property damage totals more than $2,000
    • A person disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury

    You must stop and render assistance to any person involved in a boating accident unless the action would endanger your own vessel or passengers.

    You must give your name, address, and Certificate of Number in writing to any injured person and to the owner of any damaged property if you are involved in a boating accident.

    If you or a loved one was injured in a boat accident, contact us immediately.

    Submit a simple, free consultation form now. We are ready to help.

    Get the Bernstein Advantage® today.

  • Boat Safety Tips

    Boating should be an opportunity to get away, relax, and enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. You can help ensure this by making safety a priority whenever you are out on the water. The following are some simple boat safety guidelines:

    • Wear a life jacket or personal flotation device at all times
    • Keep a careful lookout to avoid collisions with other boats, personal watercraft, skiers, or swimmers
    • Travel at a safe speed
    • Watch out for bad weather and seek shelter immediately
    • Avoid or strictly limit alcohol use
    • Obey the state and federal boating laws

    According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the primary reason for boat accidents is operator error, rather than mechanical problems, weather, or other external factors.

    The specific causes of avoidable boat accidents include:

    • Careless or reckless operation
    • Excessive speed
    • Failure to keep a careful lookout
    • Inexperienced or untrained operation
    • Alcohol
    • Failure to wear a life jacket
    • Careless behavior by passengers

    The most common types of fatal boat accidents are:

    • Capsizing
    • Falling overboard
    • Flooding and swamping

    Regardless of the cause of the accident, an individual has a significantly higher chance of survival if he or she is wearing a life jacket. In 2015, the Coast Guard counted 4,158 accidents that involved 626 deaths, 2,613 injuries and approximately $42 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.
    Where the cause of death was known, 76% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 85% were not wearing a life jacket.

    The danger of death increases if the victim was drinking. Tragically, a boat operator or passenger with a blood alcohol level of .10 or higher is ten times more likely to die if he or she gets into an accident.

    If you or a loved one was injured in a boat accident, contact us immediately.

    Submit a simple, free consultation form now. We are ready to help.

    Get the Bernstein Advantage® today.

    Source: https://americanboating.org/boating_fatality.asp