With its marine coastline, upstate lakes, scenic rivers, and extensive canal system, New York State boasts enjoyable activities for hundreds of thousands of water lovers. Recreational boating is a large piece of the economy in the Empire State with 435,213 registrations in 2019. There were 215 accidents, 129 injuries, and unfortunately, 15 fatalities reported.
Those numbers may seem like a low percentage unless one of them is you. Our personal injury attorneys in Long Island know the maritime laws, rules, and nuances to get you the assistance you need. 2020 is the first year of Brianna’s law which requires boater training in order to operate a vessel. These are some of the things that we know that you may never have known about.
Give us a call at Cellino Law at 800-555-5555 for a free case evaluation with a Long Island boat accident lawyer, so we can help you determine your best options to pursue.
What do I do After a Long Island Boating Accident?
It is the responsibility of every boater to render all practical and necessary aid possible to other vessels requiring assistance. If you are involved in an accident, you are required to stop, give your name, address, and vehicle identification number. If there is property damage less than $1000 the parties can work it out themselves. If there is a personal injury, and certainly if anyone cannot be located, local authorities must be involved immediately. If the property damage is more than $1000, or there is personal injury or death, an Accident Report Form must be filed with the New York State Park Department within 5 days.
Consult an attorney immediately to ensure that you get your claim filed in ample time, or to get your charge addressed to keep your penalty at a minimum. Different charges have different time periods to file claims and you do not want to get left out simply because you waited. We can also help you pursue a claim on your boating insurance.
What Does Boating Insurance Cover?
A standard boating policy will typically include:
If someone gets injured while on your boat, this will help cover legal and medical bills associated with the accident.
This coverage will protect you if you are at fault in an accident that caused damage to another boat or property.
If you’re in an accident, this will pay for the cost of repairing or replacing your boat. This coverage is usually optional – however, a lender may require you to purchase it if you’re leasing.
This coverage will pay for repair costs if your boat gets damaged from something other than a collision – this includes floods, storms, fire, theft, and vandalism.
If an uninsured or underinsured motorist causes damage to you or your boat, this coverage will help protect you.
Medical Payment Coverage
If you’re involved in an accident, this coverage will pay for the medical costs regardless of who is at fault. Some policies will even cover funeral expenses.
Additional coverages you may have purchased include:
- Wreck removal
- Fuel spill liability
- Emergency service
- Temporary repairs
- Boat rental reimbursement and liability
- Ice/freeze coverage
- Fishing tournament reimbursement fee
- Special fishing equipment
Most Common Causes of Boating Accidents in New York
The leading causes of boating accidents are capsizing, collisions, falls/ejections, and fire. Personal watercraft and jet skis account for 20% of the accidents.
Many accidents on the waterways could have been avoided with common courtesy and obeying speed limits, posted and implied. Most fatalities, especially in the offseason, did not have to end in death if the person had worn an approved personal floatation device.
Recent Boating Accidents
RARITAN BAY, Staten Island (WABC) – A boat with five people aboard caught fire off Staten Island Monday morning, sending three to the hospital, fire officials said. The FDNY Marine units responded to a 23-foot pro-line that was on fire out in the middle of Raritan Bay. Five civilians on board jumped in the water and were rescued by a good samaritan boat nearby, the fire department said. Three people aboard were taken to a hospital, the FDNY said, while two others were treated at the scene.
POINT LOOKOUT, Long Island – One man has died and another person remains missing after a 22-foot Angler fishing boat was hit by multiple large waves off the coast of Long Island, overturning the vessel and throwing four occupants overboard. The accident happened in the Jones Beach Inlet. A 39-foot Cobalt speedboat was leaving the bay and entering a creek when it hit the bulkhead at a high rate of speed. The driver of the speedboat is now charged with boating while intoxicated. The channel is marked indicating reducing speed to five miles an hour and cruise in.
Types of Boating Accidents our Long Island Attorneys Handle
DWB can impose very heavy fines and suspension of your boating license. We can help you lessen the penalties as much as possible.
Injuries incurred while on a ferry have different rules depending on the ownership of the ferry service so it is imperative that we establish the incident details so we can file your complaint on time.
If you are charged with reckless or negligent operation or are a victim in a case where the other operator is charged with reckless operation, we can help you establish your case.
If you were employed aboard a vessel as a seaman, crewmember, or commercial fisherman, you are protected by comprehensive coverage for crew members who are injured or die through the negligence of their employer.
What Are the Laws Regarding Drinking While Boating?
No one may operate a vessel on the waters of New York while intoxicated or impaired either through the consumption of drugs or alcohol. A blood alcohol level of .08 or higher is considered legally intoxicated. New York law imposes heavy fines, imprisonment, and suspension of operator privileges for violators. If an operator refuses to submit to the blood alcohol test, the operator’s privileges are automatically suspended pending a hearing.
For drivers under age 21, New York state has a zero-tolerance for driving impaired. If an operator under 21 is found to be intoxicated at any level, the operator’s license will automatically be suspended or revoked.
How is Fault Determined Boat Accidents in New York?
The federal and state navigation laws are enforced by several different law enforcement agencies. The US Coast Guard patrols the joint jurisdictional waters while enforcing federal laws. The State Park Police, State Police, Department of Environmental Conservation, as well as county and local agencies work together to ensure compliance with state laws upon the water. Law enforcement may terminate the operation of any vessel found to have an immediately hazardous violation which may result in accident or injury. Reckless operation of a boat can be a violation or a misdemeanor. Operators are required to operate a vessel in a careful and prudent manner without interfering with another vessel’s ability to operate in a careful and prudent manner.
The burden of guilt in a boating accident is not automatically cast unto a large vessel operating for a profit over a small pleasure craft under the rules of navigation. But in determining fault in a collision, the size and ease of movement in the water may be taken into consideration. Also for consideration, large, fast, and powerful vessels have a duty not to travel at speeds that produce displacement waves causing injury to other properly operating craft. The larger vessel is required to cease normal operation until the smaller vessel has passed outside the danger zone.
In a boating incident, there are many factors that come into play in determining fault and level of fault. The weather, boating activity in the area (recreational & commercial), events in the area, riders seated or standing, personal flotation devices, boating training course, BWI, and many more factors all influence what actions are taken and the outcome.
What Is Considered Negligent Operation?
Negligent or Reckless Operation is addressed in the New York State Navigation Law Statute 45 which clearly states the lawful operation of vessels in the waters of NYS. It discusses the speed vessels are supposed to follow in certain situations, flagging that vessels are to use in non-moving situations, and the penalties the vessel operator will incur in violation of these situations.
Many New Yorkers rely on ferries to get back and forth from New Jersey and around other places in the city. Ferries are an integral part of New York’s transportation for locals and visitors alike, but what happens when there’s an accident? If you have been injured while on a ferry or waiting to board a ferry, it is likely that you will be able to recover compensation, but there is a distinction between cases involving public entities, such as the New York City Department of Transportation, and a privately owned and operated ferry or water taxi.
The first step you’ll need to take when filing a claim is to determine what parties may be liable for your injuries. If you were injured on a ferry operated by a public entity, you only have 90 days from the date of the accident to file a notice of claim with the correct department.
Common causes of ferry accidents include:
- Operator error
- Operating a ferry under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Excessive speeds
- Mechanical malfunctions
- Defective equipment
- Inadequate seating or safety equipment
- Overloading or overcrowding
- Poor weather conditions
Jet Ski Accidents
For nearly a decade, personal watercraft have provided tremendous fun on the waterways. Jet skis are extremely fast and easy to maneuver. Although jet skis can provide hours of fun, they can be extremely dangerous in the hands of a negligent, inexperienced, and/or intoxicated driver.
A jet skier is more likely to get hurt than any other type of watercraft operator. The injuries sustained in a jet ski accident or collision can be severe. Some of these injuries include ejection from vehicle, drowning, death, carbon monoxide poisoning, burns, amputations, hypothermia, head injuries, disfigurement, a soft tissue injury, or broken bones.
Legal Requirements for Watercraft in New York
Operators must have the following equipment:
- Life Jacket (to be worn by all persons)
- Engine Cut-off Lanyard
- Sound Producing Device
- Visual Distress Signal
- Backfire Flame Arrestor
- Fire Extinguisher (on waters under USCG jurisdiction)
Recommended equipment includes:
- Eye Wear – goggles or sunglasses
- Wet Suit
New York places these restrictions on who can operate a watercraft:
- The operator must have completed a boating safety course.
- The minimum operator age is 14.
- Operation is prohibited between sunset and sunrise.
- Personal watercraft are prohibited within 500 feet of bathing beach/swim area.
New York prohibits reckless behaviors such as:
- Weaving through congested traffic
- Jumping the wake of another vessel
- Playing chicken
The requirements for renting boats are:
- The person must be at least 16 years old.
- The person must show ID and proof of age.
- The rental operator must show correct operating procedures and proper use of safety equipment.
- The renter must have proof they completed an approved boating safety course.
Behaviors to Avoid While Using Personal Watercraft
These behaviors are not illegal but contribute to a negative image of personal watercraft:
- Operating continuously in one location
- Operating in groups/packs
- Operating too close to shore, docks, marinas
- Operating too close to fishermen
- Operating in and around launching areas
- Starting too early – Sunrise is early in summer
- Operation near environmentally sensitive areas or disturbing wildlife
- Forcing larger craft to maneuver unnecessarily or excessively, especially commercial vessels
Boating Safety Tips
Check the weather forecast, do not go out if severe weather is forecast. If there is a sudden shift in the wind or you see lightning flashes and choppy water, this can mean a storm is developing. If this happens, you should head for shore immediately as storms can develop very quickly on the water.
Other things you should do include:
- Put essential items in a waterproof pouch or bag.
- Make sure someone knows your intended itinerary. Check your boat engine and fuel before leaving.
- Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim.
- Don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol use causes approximately 50% of all fatalities on our waterways.
- Use an approved personal floatation device.
- Enroll in a boating course.
How Can a Long Island Boat Accident Lawyer Help My Claim?
If you were involved in a boating accident and you are unsure about the proper avenue to pursue, you need to schedule a free consult with our Long Island attorneys. We have a team of experienced attorneys ready to assist you. Our Long Island personal injury firm will provide you with a free initial consultation so we can provide you with legal advice for your case. You will also have the chance to get answers to any questions you may have regarding your boating accident and review the options that are available to you.
Speak to a Long Island boat accident lawyer at Cellino Law so that we can start working on your case. Our boating accident attorneys are skilled and experienced and can help you obtain the compensation that you deserve for your injuries and boating damages. We are here to help you. Call us today at 800-555-5555 to schedule your free consultation.