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Louisiana Boat Accident Lawyers

Baton Rouge Boating Accident Attorneys Serving Clients Nationwide

Most accidents involve passenger vehicles or motorcycles, but thousands of boating accidents still occur every year in the United States. More than 10% of these are fatal. Though Louisiana lakes and the nearby Gulf of Mexico make for great recreational boating locations and the state's Gulf Coast has a thriving maritime industry, boating can present serious risks. If you experienced a catastrophic injury or the wrongful death of a loved one, now is the time to talk to an attorney. You may be entitled to financial compensation from the responsible party, and our Baton Rouge firm can help.

Contact our Louisiana boat accident attorneys for a free consultation.

Fighting For Everyone Injured On The Water

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U.S. Boat Accident Statistics

In comparison to roadway incidents like car accidents and truck accidents, boating accidents are about 20% as common. Still, the recreational activity does have the potential to host catastrophic injuries or deaths, especially in boaters who fail to appreciate its dangers and jeopardize others. A compilation of data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety was released in 2022. 

This report is called the Recreational Boating Statistics, and its findings include:

  • The U.S. Coast Guard reported 4,040 boating accidents total in the year 2022.
  • 2,222 injuries occurred as a result of these accidents.
  • 636 people were killed in recreational boating accidents nationwide.
  • In Louisiana, there were 103 total boating accidents, 24 fatal boating accidents, and 29 fatalities.
  • Alcohol was the primary contributing factor for fatal boating accidents and accounted for 16% of deaths.
  • 75% of boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.

The top five contributing factors in boat accidents were: operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, speeding, and machinery failure.

What Makes Boating Dangerous in Louisiana

While most recreational boat accidents are caused by operator error or inexperience, there are many factors in boating that cannot be avoided. Traveling on water poses natural threats, and boaters should take them into consideration.

Some of the most problematic of these include:

  • Exposure to Severe Weather: While traveling in a car during most storms is still achievable, boats are more exposed to the weather. Even if you are sheltered on a boat, it is still subject to the throws of the water. Large waves and choppy water can lead to capsizing and drowning in the violent water.
  • Difficulty in Boat Operation: Boats do not have the same braking systems as land vehicles. A boat cannot come to a complete, abrupt stop as needed. Due to momentum and water movement, boats cannot as easily swerve obstacles. This means that collisions are harder to avoid, and boaters need more time for maneuvering.
  • More Lenient Licensing: Obtaining a boating license in some states is either unnecessary or much easier to do than obtaining a driver’s license. Many boaters do not know how to take the proper safety measures or handle the boat in a sudden emergency. This leads to more lives becoming endangered.

Common Causes of Boat Accidents

Even with severe weather and rough seas, the majority of boat accidents can be traced to negligence or wrongdoing of some kind. Companies that push crews to take vessels to sea during storms, distracted boat operators who cause collisions with other vessels, or boats that lack proper safety equipment can put lives at risk. 

Potential causes of boat accidents include:

  • Operator inattention
  • Operator inexperience
  • Improper lookout
  • Excessive speed
  • Machinery failure
  • Vessel overcrowding
  • Lack of safety equipment
  • Boating under the influence (BUI)

Determining what caused your accident is an important part of recovering fair compensation for your losses and injuries. Involving a Baton Rouge boat accident lawyer is important because it will take a full investigation to determine what happened and who is to blame. We work with accident reconstruction specialists, investigators, and expert witnesses to ascertain cause and build compelling cases on behalf of our clients in Louisiana and nationwide.

Boat Accident Injuries & Fatalities

Depending on the type of incident and a number of factors, a Louisiana boat accident may cause various injuries. Some are relatively minor, such as a strain or sprain in a fall. Others are life-changing, such as amputation caused by contact with a boat propeller. Some are fatal, such as drowning or hypothermia from falling overboard.

According to 2022 boat accident statistics, the most common injuries were:

  • Lacerations: 493 injuries, most often to the head (172 injuries) or leg (158 injuries).
  • Broken Bones: 460 injuries, most often in the leg (152 injuries) or trunk (126 injuries).
  • Scrapes/Bruises: 285 injuries, most often to the leg (86 injuries), head (55 injuries), or trunk (50 injuries).
  • Concussion: 243 injuries.
  • Hypothermia: 145 incidents.
  • Internal Organ Injuries: 113 incidents.
  • Sprains/Strains: 109 Injuries, affecting all areas of the body.
  • Burns: 91 injuries, most often to the leg (23 injuries), body (16 injuries), arm (15 injuries), and trunk (12 injuries).
  • Dislocations: 35 injuries, most often involving the arm (21 injuries).
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: 29 incidents.
  • Amputations: 26 incidents, half of which involved the hand.

167 injuries were listed as “unknown," and there were 8 instances of shock and 6 carbon monoxide injuries.

Louisiana Boat Capsizing Accidents

While boats can take a beating out at sea, they can only handle too much. Inexperienced operation and heading out in dangerous weather can make boats prone to capsizing. One of the most frustrating parts of capsizing accidents in Louisiana is that they're completely preventable.

Causes of Louisiana boat capsizing accidents include:

  • Operator inexperience
  • A lack of training
  • Heading out despite severe weather warnings
  • Improperly loaded boats

While all types of vessels should avoid situations that can cause capsizing, commercial operators are especially responsible for protecting their crews. No one deserves to be placed in a dangerous situation because their employer placed profits above safety.

The Capsizing of the Seacor Power Near Grand Isle

On April 13, 2021, the Seacor Power was off the coast of Louisiana when it encountered severe weather. The 128-foot vessel capsized, and only 6 of the 19-person crew survived. 

The Seacor Power is a type of lift boat that's commonly used throughout the Gulf Coast. It's used to assist the drilling industry, help with construction, and work in deep and shallow water for other offshore uses. The weather that day was extreme. Winds in excess of 60 mph accompanied between 3 to 5 inches of rain. Some gusts of 117 mph—approximately 101 knots—were recorded. Notably, smaller vessels are at risk of capsizing in winds of 34 knots and larger vessels will begin to experience difficulty navigating. So, why had the Seacor Power gone out to sea?

Liability for Boat Accidents in Louisiana

Various parties, including individual people and businesses, may be held responsible for boating accidents. While the boat's operator could be responsible for causing an accident due to distraction or inexperience, there are often other factors at play. A vessel that is not equipped with sufficient safety devices, such as lifejackets, could be a contributing factor. The company that rents a boat could also be responsible if they failed to maintain a seaworthy vessel. A boat rental company could also be responsible for allowing a minor or inexperienced operator to rent a boat.

From boat manufacturers to rental companies to boat operators, determining liability is an important part of recouping your losses after a boating accident. With our resources and experience, we're confident in our ability to determine what happened and build a strong case against any and all at-fault parties as we seek fair compensation on your behalf.

Obtaining Legal Representation from Our Louisiana Boat Accident Lawyers

The skilled legal team at Arnold & Itkin is experienced in investigating accidents on the water, and we can apply our training and resources to demand fair compensation for your injuries. Our team of Baton Rouge personal injury attorneys can conduct a free evaluation of your case and walk you through every step of the process.

If you have been injured in a boat accident in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, or anywhere in the U.S. call (888) 493-1629.

Common Questions

  • Are Companies Liable for Louisiana Boat Accidents Caused by Weather?

    Yes, companies are responsible for ensuring their crews are not facing increased risks caused by severe weather. If there's a chance of extreme weather, vessel owners and operators are obligated to turn back to shore. On the day that the Seacor Power capsized, the U.S. Coast Guard had issued a warning of "significant hazards to life and property." In other words, there was a warning that the boat should not have gone out that afternoon.

  • When Do I Need to Report a Boat Accident?

    Federal law outlines specific deadlines for reporting recreational boating accidents. An accident must be reported within 48 hours if someone dies, is missing, or requires medical treatment beyond first aid. An accident must be reported within 10 days if it caused vessel or property damage alone. 

    Different deadlines apply to filing a claim or lawsuit for personal injuries or wrongful death. Our Louisiana boat accident attorneys can offer insight that applies to your situation when you call for a free consultation.

  • What Damages Can I Recover from a Boating Accident Claim?

    If you were involved in a boating accident, you may be entitled to economic and non-economic damages. This may include payment for medical treatment, ongoing care as needed, lost earnings, loss of earning potential, and even emotional trauma such as pain and suffering. The party (or parties) responsible for causing your accident should be held legally accountable for paying these damages, which would help you rebuild and move on with your life.
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