Distracted Boating in Georgia Can Make a Boating Excursion Turn Deadly


April 25, 2011

When one hears discussions about legislation involving distracted driving, most people immediately focus on distracted driving of automobiles on a highway. Unfortunately, distracted driving accidents involving boats and jet skis are becoming increasingly common on marine waterways, airways, and railways.

The use of wireless communications devices is the main culprit, and it is now apparent that the use of these devices while operating any mode of transportation causes unnecessary risk of serious injury and loss of life. If you have been involved in a serious boating accident with a distracted operator, Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, will diligently pursue the best possible outcome in your case as part of our goal to be regarded as the leading Atlanta and Georgia personal injury law firm.

The problem of distracted boating does not just encompass civilian boating accidents while engaged in recreational boating. Last December, there were two accidents involving Coast Guard boats hitting other vessels. One was in San Diego and killed an 8 year-old boy. The Coast Guard officers were talking on a cell phone at the time the boats collided. In another recent distracted boating accident, a Coast Guard vessel, in Charleston, S.C., killed 24 people when the Coast Guard's boat hit a passenger vessel while crew members were busy talking on cell phones. In yet another incident in July of 2010, two tourists were killed and 26 other passengers were injured when a tugboat hauling a 250 foot barge collided with an anchored tour boat on the Delaware River. The mate on navigation watch was on a cell phone call to his mother when the incident occurred.

Over the past year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued letters to the Coast Guard asking them to tighten up on the operators of their boats engaging in cell phone use. The agency has no regulatory power over the Coast Guard and can only warn them of the dangers and ask them to spread the word to the whole maritime industry. In July of 2010, the Coast Guard instituted limitations on cell phone use by crewmembers. In 2010, more than one in five boating accidents involved either "operator inattention" or "improper lookout" by the operator.

Georgia law permits liability to be imposed on anyone operating a boat in an unsafe manner, which causes a boating accident and serious injuries and fatalities. A boat owner is responsible for making sure that anyone that operates his or her boat is properly trained and operates the boat safely. Inattention is the number one cause for boating accidents. Negligence by others who are supposed to be on the "look-out" is on the rise. When crewmembers or operators are distracted by the use of a wireless device they are demonstrating negligence in terms of the boating Rules of the Road as set forth by the U.S. Coast Guard.   "Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation. "

It is important to consult an attorney experienced in personal injury law and boating accidents if you or anyone you know has been injured in a boating accident, including due to a distracted boat operator. The factors surrounding this type of accident can be complex. Victims must develop evidence to establish that the distracted operator's negligence was responsible for their injuries. The ability to provide reports, eyewitnesses and photographs of the scene can be crucial in being able to prove negligent operation of a boat including operator inattention. To be fully compensated for your injuries, you must also be able to show that all of your injuries were the direct result of the boat accident. Our Georgia boating accident attorneys can help you build a case and develop the evidence necessary to prove that the inattentive boat operator is responsible for your injuries. The compensation you receive may cover medical expenses, lost income, property damages, loss of consortium, disability and disfigurement, impaired enjoyment of life and any pain and suffering.  In some situations punitive damages can be recovered as well.

Our Atlanta Georgia boating accident lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.