Boating Accidents in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

boating accidents

A recreational boat is any watercraft that is meant for personal use only, as opposed to vessels used for commerce and/or other business. Common examples include a personal speedboat, pontoon boat, canoe, sailboat or jet ski. When these types of boats crash, those involved face serious injury and drowning. Nevertheless, a recreational boating accident is similar to a car crash, unlike accidents involving a commercial ship or fishing vessel, which fall under specific federal maritime laws. Therefore, a personal injury claim after a boating accident proceeds much like a motor vehicle accident claim.

Just like a car accident case, having an attorney on your side will give you a better chance of receiving a fair settlement after a boat crash. At Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., our attorneys can help you explore your legal options in a free initial consultation. We have significant experience handling boat accident lawsuits for clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and nationwide. As a result of this experience, we have the knowledge and resources necessary to fully investigate boat accidents. If a crash on the water caused injuries to you or a loved one, call a boat accident lawyer from our law firm today.

What Are the Most Common Boating Accident Causes?

A boating accident can be a collision between two or more vessels, either on the open water or in the docks or marina. However, a boat crash may also involve just a single vessel, such as if a boat collides with a stationary object, runs aground or capsizes.

Regardless of the number of watercrafts involved, many boating accidents are not accidents at all. They are avoidable crashes caused by someone’s negligence or carelessness. Common examples of this negligence include:

  • Drunk boating
  • Inexperienced drivers
  • Distracted or inattentive drivers
  • Overloaded boats
  • Unseaworthy vessels
  • Improper loading or anchoring
  • Passengers riding on the gunwale or bow
  • Poor boat maintenance
  • Incorrect equipment installation
  • Lack of proper safety equipment

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, driver inattention leads to the highest number of boat crashes. However, drunk boating is the leading cause of fatal boat accidents. Poor weather conditions and forceful waves or wakes may also contribute to boating accidents, but those are rarely the primary cause.

If someone else’s negligence caused your boat crash injuries, you may be able to hold the negligent person accountable for your medical bills and damages. Similar to a car accident, you may be able to file a claim with the boat owner’s insurance policy and/or a personal injury lawsuit.

However, unlike car accidents, boating accidents do not leave road marks that can help investigators determine what happened in the moments before an accident. As a result, other types of evidence, such as statements from witnesses and damage to the boats, are usually needed to reconstruct what happened. An experienced boat accident lawyer can assist you with the investigation for your personal injury claim.

What Are the State Boating Laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey?

In addition to federal regulations, all states have their own laws and rules for recreational boaters. These regulations typically concern safety course and licensing requirements, age restrictions and some limitations for specific bodies of water.

Federal boating safety regulations include:

  • All boats must have enough Coast Guard-approved life jackets for every person aboard at any given time.
  • Children under 13 must wear a life jacket at all times (although it is a good idea for everyone).
  • All boats with engines or other potential fire hazards must have a fire extinguisher onboard.
  • You must file an official Boating Accident Report for any crashes that involve a death, disappearance, serious personal injury or damage greater than $2,000, including loss of the boat.

Additionally, Pennsylvania state boating regulations include:

  • You must complete a Pennsylvania boating safety education course to operate a recreational craft.
  • A child must be at least 12 years old to operate a boat. Additionally, children aged 12 to 15 may only drive a boat if no other children 15 or younger are aboard.

New Jersey state boating regulations include:

  • You must complete a New Jersey boating safety education course in order to operate a motorized watercraft.
  • A driver must be at least 16 years old to operate a power vessel. However, there are some special exceptions for smaller vessels.

Additionally, neither Pennsylvania nor New Jersey requires boat owners to purchase insurance for their vessels. If you are hurt in a boating accident and the owner has boat insurance, you may be able to file a personal injury claim with the provider. This kind of policy should cover all medical bills and property damage caused by the boat. Otherwise, you may have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person at fault to get compensation.

Learn More in a Free Consultation with a Boat Accident Lawyer

Whether you need information about filing an insurance claim or are considering a lawsuit after a boat crash, contact a boat accident lawyer from our law firm today. We can give you advice about your personal injury case and explain your legal options. We offer free initial consultations and handle cases on a contingency fee basis. You will not have to pay us unless we get results for you.