Each summer, the Long Island community is plagued with stories of boating mishaps. In 2017, Dr. Richard Melucci of John T Mather Memorial Hospital drowned in the Long Island Sound. He was an avid boater who fell off his 25-foot vessel while out with his wife. Unfortunately, stories like these are too familiar for Long Island residents.  

The U.S. Coast Guard keeps track of all boating accidents, injuries, and fatalities. In 2020, 767 people lost their lives in a boat accident. The number of accidents increased that year by over 26%. No one ever thinks their fun day on the water will end in tragedy. In over 75% of these accidents, the boat operator had no vessel or water safety instruction. 

To keep yourself and your family safe this summer, follow these boating safety tips to avoid an accident. If you are injured in a boating accident, call Tona Law to discuss your options. Experienced boating accident attorneys can help you understand the details of your personal injury claim and fight for the compensation you deserve for injuries or property damage.

Boating Laws

With boating comes risk, but there are ways to prepare you and your family.  New York State law requires individuals born after May 1st, 1996, to complete a boating education course before operating a motorboat.  Children ten years and younger are not permitted to drive a motorboat under any circumstances. Boat owners have 120 days from the date of purchase to complete a boating registration course.

Persons under fourteen may not operate a personal watercraft, such as a jet ski, without completing a boater safety certificate through the NYS Parks Department, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, or numerous approved online providers.

Tips for Safe Boating

To stay safe this summer, here are a few simple boating rules.

-Always be conscious of the weather when planning a trip. If the forecast begins to change, head back to shore to ensure a safe return.

-Develop a float plan for your friends or family at home. A float plan includes your planned destination, your trip itinerary, and a list of your passengers.

-Ensure that all those operating the vessel have completed the necessary safety certifications.

-Avoid consuming alcohol until after your boating trip. The probability of being involved in a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved. Alcohol is considered a factor in nearly 20% of boating-related fatalities each year.

-Prepare a pre-departure checklist to ensure you have all of the proper safety equipment for various weather situations.

-See that all individuals, regardless of age or capability, wear a life jacket while aboard.

-Proper boating safety includes that passengers know how to swim. Check your local area for swimming classes for all ages.

-Always have a VHR-FM marine radio onboard. Cell phones can lose service while away from shore, but a VHR-FM radio can be used to reach the coast guard at any time, day or night.

-Lastly, use common sense while operating a vessel. Remain at a safe speed and don’t navigate too close to other boaters.

Life Jacket Safety

Most boat accident fatalities are the result of drowning. In 86% of these accidents, the victims were not wearing a life jacket. The best way to protect yourself and your passengers from drawing is to wear a life jacket. Here are some tips to ensure you are wearing your life jacket safely:

-Always make sure your life jacket fits properly. It should not be too big or too small. Adult life jackets are never suitable for children!

-Fasten your life jacket completely. Ensure all buttons, snaps, buckles, and zippers are secure. 

-Dry your jacket after each use and store it in a dry compartment when not in use to prevent mildew or waterlogging. 

-Discard your life jacket if it is ripped, torn, or damaged in any way. This includes buckles, snaps, zippers, etc. 

To check for a proper fit, hold your arms straight above your head and ask a friend to try to pull the jacket off. If they can, it’s far too loose. Always perform this safety check on children before going near the water.

Tona Law Represents Boating Accident Victims

You have rights if you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident. Tona Law may be able to help you receive compensation for your injuries or property damage.  Just call us at 1-833-TONALAW or fill in the form below, and we will offer you a free consultation.