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Boating Accidents On The Rise As North Carolina Takes To The Waters

Like everyone last year, people in North Carolina scrambled to find activities that would allow them to be together outside during the height of the pandemic. Boating is a popular year-round activity given North Carolina’s more than 50 lakes. But as more boats take to the state’s waters, so increases the chances of getting into a boating accident.

The Charlotte boating accident attorneys at Price, Petho & Associates, P.L.L.C. know the fun of spending a day on the water and want to help educate boaters so that boating adventures end safely.

How Frequent are Boating Accidents in North Carolina?

Boating accidents on the public waters of North Carolina must be reported to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) if any of the following occur.

  • Someone dies
  • Someone loses consciousness or receives medical treatment
  • Property damage exceeds $2,000
  • Someone disappears and may be injured or dead

According to the latest report by the NCWRC, there were 134 boating accidents in 2019 resulting in 14 fatalities. That was down significantly from 2018 when there were 192 boating accidents with 30 fatalities – the most in nearly 30 years.

The statistics for 2020 won’t be available until later in the year but it is expected that accident numbers will be higher. The Coast Guard in North Carolina reported that it received 10-15% more calls from boaters last year

Who is More Likely to be Involved in a Boating Accident?

Interestingly, it is the boaters with the most experience that are most often in boating accidents. Most boating accidents go to the over 60 crowds. Accidents involving alcohol occur more frequently among the 30-39 age group. And, unfortunately, the most fatalities from boating accidents occur for those ages 20-29. 

What are the Causes of Boating Accidents?

The most common type of boating accident is a collision with another vessel. The activity that a boat is engaged in when an accident occurs is usually just motoring through the water. And the vessel most often involved in a crash is an open motorboat on a sunny afternoon in July …

The predominant cause of boating accidents is driver inattention. Operator inexperience and equipment failures can also contribute to accidents. Other factors that can add to the severity of boating accidents include:

  • Failure to wear a life jacket or floatation device
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Falling overboard
  • Boat flooding/sinking/swamping/running aground
  • Hazardous water conditions

Why the Laws Matter if You Get in a Boating Accident

Depending on where you are boating, both state and federal laws could apply to resolve your boating accident. If you get into an accident and you are on one of the ‘navigable waterways’ of North Carolina, Federal Maritime (Admiralty) Laws may apply. Navigable waterways are generally those that are used to transport commercial goods. 

The real difference this makes in North Carolina is in the right to recover from your injuries if you are found to have contributed to the accident. Under state law, if you are found to have contributed at all – even by 1% – to causing the accident you cannot recover from any of your injuries. But under federal law, if you were 40% responsible (for instance) for the accident you could still collect for 60% of your injuries. 

There can be a lot to sort out after a boating accident and it can get complicated when different laws apply to the same circumstances. That’s why you want to work with an experienced Charlotte boating accident lawyer who knows how to present what happened so that you have the best opportunity to recover from your injuries. The attorneys at Price, Petho & Associates, P.L.L.C. each have over 25 years of personal injury experience. Contact us without obligation for a free consultation to discuss your case by clicking here or calling 704.850.6322.