Jury Reaches $30 Million Verdict in Wakeboard Accident Lawsuit


June 27, 2011

The summer is here, and watersports on Georgia waterways are a fun way to cool off and have some adventure. Wakeboarding and waterskiing are extremely popular summer recreational activities, though there are certain potential dangers that confront those that engage in these forms of watersports.

Thousands of people are injured annually in waterskiing and wakeboard accidents. A recent lawsuit serves as a sad testament to what can happen when defective products are combined with negligent boat operators. A jury in Chico, CA reached a $30 million verdict on behalf of a woman who suffered a gash to her head, fracturing her skull and damaging her frontal lobe. The propeller also ripped out her eye during the wakeboarding accident.

The jury found that the manufacturer of the boat MasterCraft Boat Co., which is based in Tennessee, bore 80 percent of the blame for the accident. The jury concluded that the MasterCraft X45 had a design flaw, which caused the front end of the boat to dive into the water when the boat made turns at low rates of speed. When the front of the boat dropped down into the water while turning, the wakeboard accident victim was thrown out of the boat. The design flaw was determined to be the oversized bow of the boat that was actually a combination of the design from two other MasterCraft boats. The accident victims said that the massive size of the bow that was designed to accommodate a lot of passengers made it so that water poured into the boat when it dipped while turning.

The jury found that the driver of the boat that had been drinking also was partially responsible for the accident. While the boat driver was not legally intoxicated, the boat driver did have a blood alcohol concentration BAC level of .04 percent. The boat owner previously pled guilty to negligent operation of a watercraft. The boat was turning at a speed of about 3-5 mph as it was maneuvering back to pick up a wakeboarder in the water.

Wakeboarding is a modified version of waterskiing. Those who are going to wakeboard or waterski on Georgia waterways should be equipped with proper safety gear and follow certain safety guidelines including:

  • Ensuring that everyone understands the meaning of appropriate hand signals
  • Avoiding sharp turns and high rates of speed
  • Picking up downed skiers in the water promptly so that they are not struck by other boats
  • Clearly displaying an orange flag to let other boats know a person is in the water
  • Having a person other than the boat driver assigned to watch the skier
  • Driving the boat carefully with attention focused on potential hazards in the water ahead

When a wakeboarder or skier falls in the water, he or she is extremely vulnerable. It is important to always be diligent about monitoring anyone being towed behind the boat whether upright or in the water. A person may even become entangled in the towrope and drown or be pulled in toward the propeller. If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries or wrongful death in a Georgia wakeboarding accident or water skiing accident you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The dedicated and compassionate personal injury lawyers at Montlick and Associates have been representing those injured by the negligent conduct of others as well as defective products for over 27 years.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of a Georgia water skiing accident or wakeboarding accident, call Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law, today to see how our Georgia personal injury attorneys can help. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away and we will even come to you.

Category: Montlick Law

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