7 Most Common Causes of Boating Accidents in Georgia

Boating season is in full swing, which means we’ve been getting an uptick in clients calling about boating accidents. If you’re going out on the lake or ocean this summer, make sure you take safety precautions and boat smartly. With an average of around 4,500 boating accidents each year, boating safety is not something to be taken lightly. Here are the seven most common causes of boating accidents in Georgia, so you are aware of what to avoid when cruising the waterways this summer.

1. Intoxication. The number one cause of fatal boating accidents in Georgia is intoxication. Boating under the influence is illegal in Georgia and punishable to the same extent as driving under the influence. If your blood alcohol content is above 0.08, you are considered intoxicated under Georgia law. Open containers are permitted on boats, and passengers are permitted to drink; however, boat operators must remain sober and alert so that they can operate the boat in a safe manner.

2. Operator inattention. Since it is difficult to see underwater, boat operators must pay close attention to water conditions and objects in the vicinity of the boat, including other boats, swimmers, animals, and other objects or protrusions in the water. Even a momentary diversion of attention can lead to an accident.

3. Operator inexperience. Like driving a car, operating a boat well takes experience. Newer boat operators are more likely to make errors that lead to accidents, so it is especially important for newer boat operators to take extra precautions when operating a boat.

4. Improper lookout. Depending on the size of the boat, there may need to be more than one boat operator or a lookout - someone who is able to keep an eye on the areas near the boat that the boat operator isn’t able to see.

5. Excessive speed. Similarly to driving on the road, boating at excessive speeds can be dangerous and increase your chances of getting into an accident. Boating at high speeds makes it more difficult to spot hazards and stop in time to avoid those hazards.

6. Machinery failure. Sometimes boat engines can fail or produce unusually high levels of carbon monoxide gas, which can cause passengers to become ill. Make sure you regularly inspect your boat and ensure it is in proper working condition.

7. Bad weather. Inclement weather, such as high winds, storms, rain, or even wakes from nearby boats can make navigating the waters more difficult and increase your chances of getting into an accident. A particularly sunny day can lead to the same result if the temperatures are high and the sun is strong, causing passengers to become more prone to dehydration and heat-related illnesses. Make sure to check the weather forecast before heading out on your boat and pack the boat accordingly.

If you have been involved in a boating accident and suffered injuries, the first thing you should do is ensure everyone is safe and then document the scene, just as you would a car accident. Take photographs and video footage of the damage to the boat, bodily injuries, and surrounding conditions, and file a report as soon as you can. You’ll also want to speak with an experienced boating attorney to learn more about your options and get the compensation you deserve. Call us at 404-259-7635 today for your free consultation.  
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