The State of North Carolina is a popular destination for people who enjoy boating. From the mountains to the shore, there are over 30 large lakes scattered across North Carolina, hundreds of miles of navigable rivers and over 300 miles of coastline. Add to that climate permits almost year-round boating and it is not difficult to understand why.
Unfortunately as the number of people take to the waterways increases, so does the probability that an accident will occur. Inexperienced operators, alcohol and the rapid growth of personal watercraft all contribute to the problem.
Statistics about the frequency and kind of accidents that occur are compiled annually by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Only accidents that involve a loss of life, loss of consciousness, medical treatment, disability for more than 24 hours, property damage in excess of $2000 or disappearances from a vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury, must be reported.
According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, in 2009 there were a total of 154 accidents. 21 accidents resulted in 22 fatalities. 133 were non-fatal with 104 persons requiring medical treatment. As might be expected, the majority of non-fatal accidents occurred between the months of April and August. The highest percentage of non-fatal accidents involved operators between the ages of 20 and 29. Operator inattention was ranked as the number one cause of non-fatal accidents.
When someone is a victim of a boating accident in North Carolina there are a number of factors that need to be considered. First, it must be determined who was at fault for causing the accident. Familiarity with boating regulation and in some cases maritime law is required. Second, an investigation as to the identity and extent of any insurance coverage must be made. Depending on the extent of the injuries involved, an inquiry as to the existence of any umbrella coverage or personal assets of the “at fault” party may be necessary. Finally, a determination needs to be made as to whether the actions of the at fault party rise to the level of “willful and wanton” conduct as to warrant punitive damages.
At Price, Hargett, Petho and Anderson, we have experience in handling boating accidents. Since 1979, we have provided aggressive representation of people injured in marine accidents of all types. Our team of attorneys includes a former member of the United States Coast Guard and all have extensive boating experience. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.