Michigan Waters See Hike in Boating Injuries During July and August
Since 2012, the number of recreational boating accidents and related deaths in Michigan continue to increase sparking the U.S. Coast Guard to report 92 boat accidents in 2012 vs. 125 in 2016. Boating accident deaths also increased from 21 in 2012 to nearly doubling at 38 fatalities in 2016. The months of July and August remain to be the state’s heaviest boating months, but accidents are reported all year long. Excessive speed, distracted boaters, and alcohol are some of the biggest factors behind the rise.
Enjoying time on one of Michigan’s many lakes in a boat is for sure a fun place to be this summer. But with recreational boating accidents increasing, including those that occur on inland waters and on the Great Lakes, it’s time to get back to safe boating no matter what type of water craft, paddle craft or vessel you are out on.
Michigan Boating Accidents Caused by Human Error
Much like car wrecks, the majority of boating accidents are caused by human error such as speeding, being distracted while driving, or operating a water craft while under the influence. Weather can be a factor but is usually not to blame since many of the previously reported accidents occurred during times when weather and visibility were good, winds light, and the water was calm. Some of the most common recreational boating accidents include:
- Hitting a wave or another boat’s wake: Hitting a wave can either overload a boat with water and cause it to possibly sink, or it can cause the boat to capsize. Boats can create large waves called wakes that trail behind the boat when they are in motion. If another boat comes too close to this wake or approaches it at the wrong angle, it can cause the vessel to capsize.
- Colliding with another boater or water craft vessel: Waterways and popular boating and swimming areas can become easily crowded during the summer months increasing the risk that two boats will collide with each other.
- Collision with a fixed object, person or land:Remember that hitting other boats, swimmers, personal water crafts such as jet skis or paddleboards, buoys, docks, and sandbars can cause a violent jolt and create the most serious head and neck injuries and sometimes death.
In Michigan, if an accident on the water does occur, an operator involved in the boating accident must stop his or her vessel immediately at the scene of the accident and assist anyone injured or in danger, unless doing so would seriously endanger his or her own vessel or passengers. Operators must also:
- Give, in writing, his or her name, address, and vessel identification to anyone injured and to the owner of any property damaged by the accident.
- The operator of a vessel, or each person on board, must report an occurrence without delay, and by the quickest means available, to the nearest conservation officer, sheriff of the county, or nearest state police post when a person dies or disappears from a vessel.
The operator or the owner of a vessel involved in a boating accident must file an accident report form supplied by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Paddle Board Sports Are Leading Contributor to Rise in Injuries
Experts from the state’s Waterways Commission recently told local news outlets that, “Over the last five years, the number of paddle craft (and of powered vessels) has grown steadily and participation is up about 7 percent annually.” The U.S. Coast guard agrees with the statistic and says there are more than 600,000 paddle sport vessels in the state and those numbers will soon surpass the number of powered vehicles enjoying Michigan’s many waters.
Stand up (SUP) board users are the most vulnerable persons on the water. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has determined that when these specialty boards are operated outside a surfing or swimming area, they will be considered “vessels” under USCG regulations and the following rules will apply.
- Each paddler 13 years of age or older must have a USCG-approved Type I, II, III, or appropriate Type V life jacket. It is strongly recommended to be worn.
- A child 12-years old or younger must wear their USCG-approved life jacket and be of an appropriate size and fit for the wearer.
- The jacket must be in “serviceable condition,” without rips, tears or deterioration that will diminish its performance.
- Belt pouch-type inflatable PFDs, such as the ones we carry, must be worn on the person to meet the life jacket regulation.
- A whistle or other sound producing device must be carried to warn other boaters.
- If you’re on the water after sunset, you need to have a flashlight, or similar lighting device, to warn other boaters.
What to Do Next If Involved in a Michigan Boating Accident
In Michigan, an operator involved in a boating accident must stop his or her vessel immediately at the scene of the accident and assist anyone injured or in danger, unless doing so would seriously endanger his or her own vessel or passengers. Operators must also give, in writing, his or her name, address, and vessel identification to anyone injured and to the owner of any property damaged by the accident.
In addition, if a person dies or disappears from a vessel, the operator of a vessel, or each person on board, must report an occurrence without delay, and by the quickest means available, to the nearest conservation officer, sheriff of the county, or nearest state police post.
Ask Lee Free about Michigan Boating Accident Injuries
Our attorneys at The Lee Steinberg Law Firm have represented boating accident victims and their families for over 40 years and are experts on these cases. If you have been injured or have lost a loved one as the result of an accident involving a boat, our team of experienced attorneys are here to answer any questions you may have about Michigan wrongful death cases.
The Michigan Wrongful Death Act allows the personal representative of the estate of a deceased person to bring an action in court if the death of the person was caused by the wrongful act or negligence of another.
Please call Lee Free and our boating accident attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form. And remember, you pay nothing until we settle your case.