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Sailing and Pleasure Boat Accidents

If you were injured or had a family member killed in an accident involving a yacht, sail boat, motor boat, jet ski, a charter fishing boat or other pleasure craft, you need an experienced maritime lawyer with experience in handling boating accidents. New York’s waterways have an abundance of recreational boaters from Long Island and Westchester in the Long Island Sound, the Hudson River and from Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan in the East River, Jamaica Bay and the other local waterways.

Unfortunately, inexperienced captains and crew often cause collisions and even capsized vessels. Too many owners of small boats don’t know the maritime rules of the road or that boats have limits as to the amount of people and weight that can be aboard. Also maintenance issues are a major cause of boating accidents and personal injuries at sea. According to the United States Coast Guard over eight percent of all boating accidents involving fatalities occurred with boats which were smaller than twenty six feet.

An accident involving a pleasure craft can be an emotionally devastating occurrence for an injured person or a family who suffered a maritime fatality. The boat owner will often try to seek pity and capitalize on personal relationships to keep victims from seeking the compensation they deserve. Our maritime lawyers know better and we know that despite the seemingly empathetic defendant’s pleas, he or she will not be there for your family. You have to look out for yourself and your family. Friendship ends the second the boat owner’s carelessness or negligence causes an injury or death. If they were a good friend, they would have taken adequate care to protect the safety and lives of their passengers.

Overloaded Boats

Most boats have a plate, which states the maximum amount of people who can be aboard at a given time. In general the greater amount of weight on a boat, the greater the effect on how the boat handles, turns and it also causes the boat to ride lower in the water. When a boat rides lower in the water, which increases the likelihood that a boat will take on water. When a boat is overloaded, that also increases the likelihood that weight is not distributed equally, which raises the center of gravity, which brings the heavier side closer to the water and interrupts the natural swaying of the boat. Uneven weight distribution increases the likelihood of a man (woman) overboard if the boat turns suddenly or is hit by a wave.

Maintenance Issues

Many smaller vessels are not water tight or don’t have bilges, which increases the likelihood that water that splashes on the deck will enter the cabin and weigh the boat down. Also many small boat owners don’t apply non-skid coating or paint. Boats surfaces will inevitably come in contact with water, will become wet and sometimes, even slippery substances such as grease, oil or antifreeze get spilled on the deck. Non-skid surfacing generally is an accepted maritime industry maintenance standard and the failure to apply non-skid surfacing is negligence.

Personal Floatation Devices

Boat captains and owners must make sure that they have enough personal floatation devices or safety vests for all passengers. Generally good maritime practice is to have all passengers wearing personal flotation devices at all times. If a boat capsizes or there is a person overboard, a personal floatation device will often prevent drowning.

Weather Conditions

In general, weather conditions have a higher impact on smaller boats than on larger vessels. Anyone involved in boating should carefully check the weather conditions before leaving port. Stormy weather means stronger winds, which in turn causes stronger waves. Unfortunately many small boat captains/owners do not know the capabilities of their boats and what type of weather can be dangerous.

Our New York maritime lawyers have handled all types of accidents at sea including personal injury and wrongful death. Our admiralty lawyers have offices in New York City and Westchester.

 
The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph