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New York Boat Accident Lawyer

Because there are so many waterways in and around New York, recreational and commercial boating are thriving industries in the area. Largely due to negligence, boating accidents are not uncommon. Such accidents often leave victims with a variety of serious injuries such as injuries to the back, head, neck, and spinal cord. Broken bones, bruises, and serious cuts are also common. Some accidents involve pleasure craft such as sailboats, speed boats, and jet skis, while others involve commercial vessels such as cruise boats, water taxis and barges. Just like other types of accidents such as car accidents or construction accidents, victims of boat accidents have the legal right to demand that the negligent person who caused the accident pay compensation. However, the laws that apply to boat accidents are complex, and can involve international, federal and state law. Where the accident occurred will impact what law applies. For a boat accident that occurred on non-navigable waters such as a pond, New York state law will apply. If the accident happened in navigable waters, maritime and admiralty laws will apply. If you were seriously hurt in a boat accident, it is important that you immediately contact an experienced New York boat accident lawyer who will help you get the compensation to which you are entitled.

Statistics on Boat Accidents in New York

According to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, there were 173 boating accidents reported in New York in 2020. These accidents resulted in 32 fatalities and 103 injuries. The majority of these accidents (64%) occurred in open motorboats, followed by personal watercraft (18%) and kayaks and canoes (6%).

In terms of the causes of these accidents, the top contributing factors were operator inattention or distraction (30%), operator inexperience (19%), and improper lookout (16%). Alcohol use was also a contributing factor in 14% of the accidents.

Interestingly, the time of day when most accidents occurred was between 4:00 pm and 7:59 pm, which accounted for 33% of all accidents. July was the month with the highest number of accidents, accounting for 28% of all accidents in 2020.

These statistics highlight the importance of boater education and safety measures to prevent accidents and reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on New York's waterways. It's crucial for boaters to follow safety guidelines, maintain proper equipment, and avoid dangerous behaviors like operating under the influence of alcohol.

Types of Boat Accidents in New York

Boat accidents in New York can take many forms, including collisions with other boats or objects, capsizing, flooding, and fires. Some of the most common types of boat accidents include:

  • Collision Accidents. A collision accident occurs when two boats collide with each other, causing property damage and potentially injuring the passengers or crew. Collisions can happen due to various factors such as operator error, navigational errors, or mechanical failure.
  • Capsizing Accidents. Capsizing accidents occur when a boat overturns in the water, either due to high waves or instability caused by overloaded cargo or passengers. Capsizing accidents can cause severe injuries and even death, particularly if passengers become trapped under the boat.
  • Flooding Accidents. Flooding accidents occur when water enters the boat, causing it to sink or become unstable. Flooding accidents can be caused by various factors such as leaks, structural damage, or severe weather conditions.
  • Fires and Explosions. Fires and explosions can occur in boats due to various factors such as fuel leaks, electrical malfunctions, or improper handling of flammable materials.
Where Most Boat Accidents Occur in New York

Boat accidents can occur in any body of water, but some areas are more prone to accidents than others. In New York, the most common locations for boat accidents include:

  • Long Island Sound: This is a popular boating destination that sees heavy traffic during the summer months. Boaters need to be aware of strong currents and sudden weather changes, which can cause accidents.
  • The Hudson River: The Hudson River runs through New York City and is a popular location for recreational boating. However, the river can be crowded with commercial traffic, which can increase the risk of collisions.
  • Lake George: Lake George is a popular tourist destination in upstate New York, and its clear waters and scenic surroundings make it a favorite spot for boating. However, the lake can become crowded during peak season, which can increase the risk of accidents.
  • The Finger Lakes: The Finger Lakes region is home to several large lakes that are popular for boating, including Seneca Lake, Cayuga Lake, and Keuka Lake. However, these lakes can be subject to sudden weather changes, and boaters need to be aware of the risks of capsizing and collisions.

It's important for boaters to be aware of the potential hazards in these areas and to take appropriate safety measures to prevent accidents. Boaters should also be aware of local regulations and restrictions, such as speed limits and no-wake zones.

Common Causes of Boat Accidents in New York

Boat accidents can happen due to various reasons. Here are some of the most common causes of boat accidents in New York:

  • Operator Error. Many boat accidents occur due to operator error, such as driving the boat too fast, navigating too close to shore, or failing to keep a lookout for other boats or objects in the water.
  • Intoxication. Operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a significant cause of boat accidents in New York. Drinking while operating a boat can impair the operator's judgment, reaction time, and coordination, making them more likely to cause an accident.
  • Equipment Failure. Mechanical failure or faulty equipment can also cause boat accidents, such as a malfunctioning steering system, engine failure, or defective safety equipment.
  • Weather Conditions. Boating in bad weather conditions, such as high winds or heavy rain, can increase the risk of accidents, particularly if the boat is not equipped to handle such conditions.
Why Boat Accidents Can Cause Serious Injuries

Boat accidents can cause serious injuries for several reasons. First, the force of impact in a collision can be significant, especially if the boat is traveling at high speeds. Even a relatively minor collision can cause serious injuries to passengers, such as broken bones, head injuries, and spinal cord injuries.

Second, boaters and passengers may be thrown from the boat in a collision or fall overboard, which can lead to drowning, hypothermia, or other injuries. Even if a person is wearing a life jacket, the shock of entering the water can be dangerous, especially in cold water.

Third, boats often have a variety of hazardous equipment on board, such as motors, propellers, and sharp edges. If a person falls or is thrown into the water, they can be struck by these objects and suffer serious injuries, including lacerations and amputations.

Fourth, boats can be difficult to maneuver, especially in adverse weather conditions or in congested waterways. If a boat operator is not paying attention or does not have sufficient experience, they may collide with other boats, docks, or other obstacles, causing serious injuries to passengers and other individuals.

Overall, boat accidents can cause serious injuries due to the force of impact, the risk of drowning or hypothermia, hazardous equipment on board, and the difficulty of maneuvering boats. It's important for boaters to take appropriate safety precautions and follow all laws and regulations to minimize the risk of accidents and injuries.

Legal Options for New York Boat Accident Victims

If you have been involved in a boat accident in New York, there may be legal options available to you for pursuing compensation from the individual or entity responsible for your injuries and losses. The following are some of the legal options that boat accident victims in New York may pursue:

  • Personal injury claim: If you have been injured in a boat accident, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the responsible party. This can include claims for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
  • Wrongful death claim: If a loved one has died in a boat accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. This can include claims for funeral expenses, loss of income, and other damages.
  • Product liability claim: If a defect in the boat or its equipment caused the accident, you may be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer or seller of the boat or equipment.
  • Maritime law claim: If the accident occurred on navigable waters, you may be able to file a claim under maritime law. This can include claims for maintenance and cure, which provide compensation for medical expenses and other costs incurred by an injured seaman.

It's important to speak with an experienced New York boat accident lawyer to determine the best legal options for your specific situation and who can help you navigate the complex legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.

Notable Cases on New York Boat Accidents
  • Estate of Joseph DeLuca v. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 2017 NY Slip Op 50805(U) (Sup. Ct. Nassau Cty. 2017). In this case, the estate of a man who died in a boating accident filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The accident occurred when the man's boat struck a submerged object in Hempstead Harbor, causing him to be ejected from the vessel and drowned. The lawsuit alleged that the state was negligent in failing to properly mark the hazard and warn boaters of the danger. The court ultimately awarded the estate $500,000 in damages.
  • Williams v. Giraldez, 2020 NY Slip Op 30839(U) (Sup. Ct. Kings Cty. 2020). In this case, a woman filed a personal injury lawsuit against the owner and operator of a boat that collided with her kayak on the Hudson River. The accident caused the woman to sustain serious injuries, including a broken ankle, broken ribs, and a collapsed lung. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants were negligent in failing to keep a proper lookout and failing to take evasive action to avoid the collision. The court ultimately awarded the woman $300,000 in damages.
  • O'Brien v. Jetty Jumpers, LLC, 2021 NY Slip Op 31345(U) (Sup. Ct. Suffolk Cty. 2021). In this case, a man filed a personal injury lawsuit against a boat rental company after he was injured while wakeboarding behind one of the company's boats. The man alleged that the boat operator was negligent in failing to maintain a safe distance between the boat and the wakeboarder and failing to properly instruct the man on safe wakeboarding practices. The court ultimately awarded the man $50,000 in damages.
  • In re: Stowman, 2017 WL 6972566 (N.Y. App. Div. Dec. 28, 2017). In this case, a woman was injured when a boat operated by the defendant collided with the boat she was riding in. The woman suffered a broken leg, fractured ribs, and other injuries. The defendant was charged with boating while intoxicated and pleaded guilty to the charges. The woman filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, and the court awarded her $850,000 in damages. The court also imposed punitive damages against the defendant, citing his egregious conduct in operating the boat while intoxicated.

The cases highlight the need for expert legal representation for victims of such incidents. These accidents can result in serious injuries, property damage, and even loss of life. An experienced boat accident attorney in New York can help victims navigate the legal process and recover compensation for their losses.

Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Injuries sustained in boat accidents can be severe and life-altering, and victims may require extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boat accident, it's important to seek legal guidance from an experienced boat accident attorney serving New York who can help you understand your legal options and pursue compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. By holding responsible parties accountable for their negligence, we can work together to promote boater safety and prevent future accidents. At our law firm, we are dedicated to advocating for the rights of boat accident victims and their families, and we are committed to helping them recover the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Brooklyn, Long Island, Queens, Manhattan, Nassau County, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Bronx, and Westchester County.

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