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Spending time on a lake or river can be a wonderful outing with family and friends, but boating safety is critical.  Careless maintenance, operating a boat while drinking alcohol, driving at high speeds, or weaving recklessly in and out among other boats can spell disaster.  Boating accidents often result in life-threatening injuries.

Data from Statistica shows that 767 people died as a result of boating accidents in the U.S. in 2020 and 3,191 people were injured.  There is evidence, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, that boating activity increased significantly during the COVID pandemic, from reports of increased boat sales, insurance claims, insurance policies taken out, and calls for towing assistance. With the increased boating hours, there was greater risk of deaths, injuries, and accidents. 

U.S. residents use boats for sporting activities like fishing, water skiing, tubing, day trips, and vacationing.  In 2020, property damage alone from recreational boating accidents in the U.S. totaled about $62.51 million.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other costs.  The skilled personal injury lawyers at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana fight aggressively to get the justice our clients deserve.  You do not have to go it alone during such a difficult time.  Call us for a free initial consultation at (251) 444-7000.

Choosing the Best Alabama Boating Accident Lawyer

We are boating accident lawyers who care about our clients.

At Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana, we take each case personally.  There’s nothing worse than insurance companies trying to lowball clients and pay them less than they deserve for the injuries they have suffered.  Our boating accident lawyers will not let that happen.  We are aggressive negotiators, and we are not afraid to litigate a claim in court before a judge and jury if insurance companies refuse to negotiate in good faith.  To learn more about our outstanding boating accident lawyers, you can read our attorney bios.  You can also see our proven case results on behalf of satisfied clients.

Our boating accident lawyers fight aggressively to get the justice you deserve.

Boating Accidents in the U.S. and in Alabama

From 2019 to 2020, the total number of boating accidents in America increased 26.3% (4,168 to 5,265), and the number of non-fatally injured victims increased 24.7% (2,559 to 3,191), according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Coast Guard data shows that the most common vessel types involved in accidents were open motorboats, personal watercraft, and cabin motorboats.  The vessel types with the highest percentage of deaths were open motorboats (50%), kayaks (15%), and pontoons (9%). 

More than 2,500 motorboats were involved in accidents in 2019 in the U.S.  Alcohol continued to be the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2020, accounting for over 100 deaths, or 18% of total fatalities, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Coast Guard data shows that in 2020:

  • The fatality rate was 6.5 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels, the highest in recent history. This rate represents a 25% increase from 2019’s fatality rate of 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
  • Property damage totaled about $62.5 million.
  • Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
  • Eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.

Where the cause of death was known, 75% of fatal boating accident victims drowned.  Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 86% were not wearing a life jacket.  There were about 11.84 million registered vessels in the United States in 2020.  About 87.3 million U.S. adults participated in recreational boating in 2014.

Boating accidents in our state are on the rise.  In Alabama, boating accidents in just the first half of 2019 led to 25 deaths, surpassing year-end totals for the previous 20 years.  In 2018, there were 75 boating accidents, resulting in 17 deaths; and in 2017, there were 86 boating accidents, leading to 19 deaths.  If you’d like to talk to a boat accident lawyer in Alabama, call us at (251) 444-7000.

Boating Accident FAQs

How do you prove negligence in boating accidents?

There are certain factors that you must establish in a personal injury claim to be successful.  You must show these four elements to prove negligence in a jury trial:

  • Duty
  • Breach
  • Causation
  • Damages/Harm.

In a personal injury case, “negligence” refers to one party’s careless or reckless behavior that resulted in harm to another party.

Is there such thing as a DUI for boating?

Alabama law imposes DUI penalties on boaters just like it does on drunk drivers of other motor vehicles.  A drunk boat operator can face fines, jail time, and other penalties.  A boat operator who was drunk when you or a loved one was injured in an accident could represent liability and negligence as it relates to your claim. 

How much can you get for a boating accident lawsuit?

There is no “average” compensation for a boating accident.  Each case is different, depending on the unique facts present.  Generally, the more serious the injury, the greater the compensation.  If gross negligence is involved, a court can also award additional punitive damages.

Can you be compensated for pain and suffering in a boat accident case?

Yes, pain and suffering can factor into compensation for injuries suffered in a boating accident.  Your personal injury attorney can advise you about asking for damages for pain and suffering in your particular lawsuit.

Is there such thing as wrongful death in boating accidents?

Yes, you can file a wrongful death claim if a loved one is killed in a boating accident.  These cases proceed much like a wrongful death claim in a car accident.  In these cases, you can be compensated for funeral and burial costs in addition to other types of damages.

Common Types and Causes of Boating Accidents

According to the U.S. Coast Guards Recreational Boating Guide in 2014, the primary boating accident types include:

  1. Collision with a recreational vehicle (937 accidents/40 deaths)
  2. Flooding/swamping (463 accidents/70 deaths)
  3. Collision with a fixed object (452 accidents/51 deaths)
  4. Grounding (359 accidents/13 deaths)
  5. Water skier mishap (292 accidents/8 deaths)

Other types include:

  • Falls in or overboard a vessel
  • Persons ejected from a vessel
  • Fire or explosions that occur while under way and while anchored, moored or docked
  • Other mishap involving a towable device
  • Striking a submerged object
  • A person struck by a vessel, propeller, propulsion unit, or steering machinery
  • Carbon monoxide exposure
  • Electrocution due to stray current related to a vessel
  • Casualties while swimming from a vessel that is not anchored, moored or docked.

The top known causes of death in boating accidents include:

  1. Drowning
  2. Trauma
  3. Cardiac arrest
  4. Hypothermia
  5. Other

The most common contributing factors in boating accidents include:

  • Operator inattention
  • Improper lookout
  • Operator inexperience
  • Excessive speed
  • Alcohol use
  • Machinery failure
  • Navigation rules violation
  • Hazardous waters
  • Weather
  • Force of waves/wake

Injuries Resulting from Boating Accidents

Boats – especially those travelling at high speeds – can crash into other boats, flip over, or run aground.  These accidents can cause catastrophic injuries to passengers.  Some common injuries in boating accidents are:

Boating accidents not only result in cuts, breaks, burns and head trauma, but there’s also the significant threat of drowning after being injured.  That’s why boating accidents can be so catastrophic.

Boating Laws in Alabama

Alabama Law Enforcement Agency offers a Boat Equipment Checklist to ensure safety when going out on the water.  Equipment required by law includes:

  • Lights
  • Personal flotation devices
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Flame arrestor
  • Emergency cut-off switch
  • Sound device
  • Visual distress signals (flares)
  • Diver’s flag.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency also offers Boating Rules and Regulations.  The first five prohibited activities are:

  • Operating a boat if you’re under the age of 12.  Residents must be 14 years old and have a vessel license to operate a vessel or personal watercraft alone.
  • Operating a vessel in such a manner and at a rate of speed as will create a hazardous wash or wake when approaching or passing another vessel or when entering or leaving a harbor or marina area.
  • No person, except in jump buoys and like objects used normally in competitive and recreational skiing, shall operate or manipulate any vessel, tow rope, or other device by which the direction or location of water skis, aquaplane, or similar device may be affected or controlled in such a way as to cause the water skis, aquaplane, or similar device or any person thereon to collide with or strike any object or person.
  • Operating a vessel towing a person or persons on water skis, or an aquaplane or similar device unless there is in the vessel a person, in addition to the operator, who is at least 12 years of age and is observing and is capable of communicating to the operator the progress of the person being towed or unless the vessel is equipped with a wide-angle mirror with a viewing surface of at least 500 sq. centimeters (78 square inches) and a field of vision of at least 170 degrees.
  • Operating a vessel above plane speed when persons or equipment are positioned in a manner that would obstruct the operator’s view or impair the safe operation of the vessel. (Sailboats are exempt from this section.)

Filing a Boat Accident Lawsuit

Let our experienced boating accident attorneys in Mobile get the justice you deserve.

Filing a boat accident lawsuit may feel a bit overwhelming, especially if you are still recovering from your injuries.  You may be in pain, going to doctor appointments, and trying to keep up with day-to-day tasks.  This is when a boating accident lawyer can help.  Let us do the legal heavy lifting.

At Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana, we have years of experience in successfully negotiating and litigating personal injury claims.  Our legal team is compassionate and skilled, and we know how to walk beside you and make the process of filing a claim as easy as possible.  We understand that you are hurting and stressed, and we feel it is our job to put your mind at ease and help you move forward.  Our attorneys are among the best and the brightest, and we know how to fight.  We have a winning track record.  So you can relax and know that you are in good hands.

Call a Boating Accident Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, you may be entitled to compensation.  Getting injured often means mounting medical bills, time off work, and even disability.  It isn’t fair that you should have to bear these costs alone, especially if the accident was due to someone else’s negligence.  Our attorneys fight hard for our clients to get the justice they deserve.  To find out more about how we can help, call us for a free initial consultation at (251) 444-7000.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)


Our Award-Winning Alabama Accident Lawyers have recovered millions on behalf of our clients. At Caldwell, Wenzel & Asthana, we understand what you’re going through after a crash. If your injuries were caused by someone else’s actions, our dedicated legal team is ready to help you get the compensation you deserve.

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