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Indiana Boat Accident Lawyer

What causes boating accidents in Indiana?
Does alcohol play a part in boating accidents?
What types of watercraft are most likely to be involved in accidents?
Lakes, rivers or oceans?
Injured in a Boating Accident? What to do?

What causes boating accidents in Indiana?

The top five contributing factors in recreational boating accidents are:

  • Operator inattention, defined as failure on the part of the operator to pay attention to the vessel, its occupants, or the environment in which the vessel is operating.
  • Improper lookout for dangers such as other boats, logs, sandbars or swimmers.
  • Operator inexperience, either in general or with the particular vessel in use.
  • Excessive speed, which means more than the reasonable and prudent speed, not necessarily the posted speed limit.
  • Machinery failure, from a defect or design or construction of parts like engine, steering system, fuel system or electrics.

Boating is an enormously popular pastime, and for a variety of reasons. Some love the challenge of fishing; some enjoy the athletic adventure of skiing; and others spend summer days cruising the open water, finding the warm sunshine and rush of air exhilarating. Unfortunately, every year some boaters experience the pain of injury or loss of loved ones caused by those who operate their boats and personal watercraft with disregard for the law or commonsense safety procedures.

The U.S. Coast Guard reports that in 2013, there were 4,062 accidents on the water, injuring 2,620 and killing 560. In Indiana in 2013, there were 44 boating accidents, with 5 fatalities and 31 injuries.
The Indiana boat accident lawyers of Stephenson Rife have been successfully litigating personal injury cases since 1982. Call Mike Stephenson at 317-680-2501 if you or your loved one was the victim of a drunk or inattentive boater.

Does alcohol play a part in boating accidents?

Driving while intoxicated is the sixth most common cause of boating accidents and the leading factor in 16% of boating deaths nationally. Alcohol was a contributing factor in 63 of 75 boating accidents recorded in Indiana in 2011, and in 60 of 64 boating accidents in 2010.

In Indiana, the blood-alcohol limit for boat operators (and for operators of personal watercraft) is the same as for drivers of cars or trucks — 0.08 – but you can be arrested for having a lower level if your actions are impaired and cause a danger to others. Those who are convicted of boating while intoxicated (BWI) can lose their right to operate a boat and also their vehicle driving privileges. They also face jail time and fees. A person boating while intoxicated who causes the death or serious injury of another person will, upon conviction, be guilty of a felony.

Boaters often don’t realize that they cannot safely consume the same amount of alcohol while on the water as they would at home or in a restaurant. Factors such as the motion of the boat, the glare and heat of the sun, and dehydration cause impairment more quickly for boaters.

What types of watercraft are most likely to be involved in accidents?

Nearly half – 46% — of the accidents on the water involve open motorboats, followed by personal watercraft (PWC) such as WaveRunners, Sea-Doos, and Jet Skis (18%) and cabin motorboats (17%).

Lakes, rivers or oceans?

Most boating accidents happen on lakes, in calm water, when visibility is good, according to Coast Guard statistics.
Indiana’s largest lake, Lake Monroe, was the site of a tragic accident in July of 2010 which killed a woman and her grandson. The accident led to passage of legislation to include drugs as well as alcohol as prohibited substances while boating.

In May 2014, an accident on Dogwood Lake resulted in the death of one man; alcohol was thought to be a factor.
On Memorial Day Weekend of 2014, an accident on Bass Lake injured two people riding PWCs.

Attorney Mike Stephenson

Indiana Attorney Mike StephensonMike Stephenson has 40 years of experience and is a trusted advisor to many individuals and companies. His current practice is dominated by civil litigation in state and federal courts. He focuses much of his time on handling catastrophic injuries caused by all types of accidents, including motor vehicle, trucking, workplace injuries, product liability, and fire, just to name a few. He also works extensively in construction accidents. [ Attorney Bio ]

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