As summer heats up in Louisiana, more people will take to their personal watercrafts, including motorboats, jet skis and fishing boats. Louisiana boasts a wide variety of places to enjoy boating, but it is the unfortunate case that boating accidents are not unusual, and cause thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities every year. Recent statistics show just how serious the issue of recreational boating accidents is.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2017 658 people lost their lives and over 2,600 were injured in recreational boating accidents. However, this is a 6.8% drop from the 2016 fatality rate. In incidents in which the length of the vessel was known, eight out of every 10 individuals who drowned were in vessels under 21-feet-long. 172 recreational boating accidents in 2017 involved an individual who was struck by a propeller. Such accidents resulted in 31 fatalities and 162 injuries. Distracted boating, improper lookout, inexperience, machinery failure and drunk boating were the top five contributing factors in recreational boating accidents.

Per known data, the most common types of vessels involved in recreational boating accidents were motorboats at 46%, personal watercraft at 18% and cabin motorboats at 16%. Also, per known data, the deadliest vessel types were open motorboats, which saw 47% of fatalities in 2017, kayaks, which saw 15% of fatalities in 2017 and personal watercraft, which saw 7% of fatalities.

When a person is in a boating accident due to a reckless boat driver, it is important to determine whether state law on negligence applies or whether federal admiralty and maritime law applies. The distinction between these laws has a major impact on how such cases will proceed. Admiralty and maritime law attorneys can provide more information to those who find themselves the victim of a boating accident.