Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.

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Elkhorn, WI

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How dangerous are small boats?

Many people purchase small boats because they can be less costly and easier to transport or store than larger ones — but are they safe?

Statistics compiled by the U.S. military show that at least 80% of all boating fatalities involve occupants of boats 26 feet or less. Boat safety analysts point to several reasons why fatal accidents are most likely to involve small boats instead of larger ones. 

Skipper inexperience

Many individuals perceive themselves as capable of operating a boat simply because they have a driver’s license. There’s a whole host of knowledge that a skipper must have to operate a boat that’s different from driving a vehicle. Inexperienced boat operators are less likely to adhere to critical safety precautions, resulting in their occupants’ injuries or deaths. 

Wrong boat for the water conditions

Smaller boats are more apt to capsize and fill up with water than larger ones when the waves are big. It may become necessary to pump water out of a smaller boat. It may place boat occupants’ lives in peril if a skipper travels into waterways that are inappropriate for small boats to navigate or the correct equipment isn’t onboard. It may also damage critical boat components rendering it unsafe to operate.

Overloaded vessels

Skippers must also be cautious about how much they load up a small water vessel. These boats lack freeboards, which is a buffer between the waterline and the main deck. Any small boat overloaded with equipment, food or passengers may increase a water vessel’s chances of capsizing, especially if its upper edge is close to the water. 

Failure to obey the rules of the water

There are rules that boaters must follow when operating their water vessels. These rules may require them to equip their boats with life-saving devices, maintain a safe distance between themselves and others or operate their water vessel while under the influence of alcohol. A boater may seriously maim or kill someone if they engage in these activities. 

Your options after a serious boat accident

Boat accidents work similarly to car crashes. An attorney may advise you how you’re able to hold negligent parties liable for medical bills, funeral costs and other expenses you incur due to a skipper’s recklessness.

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