Although landlocked, boating continues to be an enjoyable and relaxing pastime for many Colorado residents. In fact, there are over 2,000 lakes and reservoirs around Colorado. With the summer months quickly approaching, the Colorado boat accident lawyers at Bowman Law LLC wanted to remind readers of the inherent risks and dangers associated with recreational boating.
Common Causes of Colorado Boat Accidents
According to the most recent survey by the United States Coast Guard, operator inattention is the most common cause of boating accidents, including collisions, passengers falling overboard, and slip-and-falls onboard. Colorado boat accidents can be sudden and serious, often resulting in catastrophic injuries to a victim’s head, brain, or spine. In addition to operator inattention, the United States Coast Guards identifies the following additional causes of boating accidents:
- Improper Lookout: Every vessel operating on open waters should have a watch who is constantly monitoring through sight, hearing, and any other appropriate means, for any prevailing circumstances and conditions that could cause a boat accident. Without a watch paying proper attention, boaters are at a greater risk of a boat accident.
- Operator Inexperience: Boats can be incredibly difficult to operate and control, particularly for inexperienced operators. Boat operators in Colorado must be at least 16 years old. However, children aged 14 and 15 may operate a boat in Colorado if they complete a State-approved boating safety course, such as the course offered by Colorado State Parks.
- Excessive Speed: Regardless of how experienced an operator is, it is crucial that all vessels always maintain a safe speed. Boats are unlike vehicles in that they do not have a way to stop instantaneously. For boats, it is very easy to lose control and cause an accident when they are moving at high speeds.
- Alcohol Use: It is not only illegal, but incredibly dangerous to operate any type of boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol because reaction times are slowed, and decision making is much less rational. Further, like criminal charges of drunk driving, Colorado has boating under the influence (“BUI”) laws that make it illegal for any person to operate a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is also important to know Colorado defines ‘vessels’ quite broadly to include non-motorized vessels. Therefore, those operating a sailboat, canoe, or even a kayak can be charged with BUI.
- Machinery Failure: A boat accident is more likely in the event of a defect or failure of any part of the boat.
- Hazardous Weather: While most boating accidents occur in the summer months, poor weather conditions can still cause a boating accident with strong winds and choppy waters.
- Boater Hypnosis: This is caused when a boater is continuously exposed to noise, vibration, sun, glare, wind, and motion experienced on the water. It can cause a person’s reaction time to slow down, almost as much as if they were legally drunk. The addition of alcohol to these factors only intensifies the effects, causing a person who has not been drinking heavily to feel as if they were drunk, thus increasing the likelihood of an accident.
- Faulty Equipment: A clear danger associated with boats is falling overboard, especially in choppy conditions. However, drowning may be prevented with the use of a personal flotation device (PFD). Some PFDs are specifically designed to turn an unconscious wearer right-side-up in the water. Boaters must carry one wearable PFD for each person on board.
Contact Our Colorado Boat Accident Lawyers
Because of the nature of Colorado boat accidents, victims are at a much higher risk of fatalities. If you or someone you love has been injured in a boat accident in Colorado, you deserve financial compensation. Contact the most experienced Colorado boat accident lawyers at Bowman Law LLC. Our attorneys can help you with the financial repercussions and aftermath of a boat accident and get you the money you deserve for sustaining injuries in an accident that was not your fault. Call Bowman Law LLC today at 720.863.6904 or email us for your free consultation.
Owner and Managing Attorney
Jerry Bowman, J.D., M.A., Owner and managing attorney of Bowman Law LLC, takes his responsibility to the legal profession seriously and dedicates his time and effort to providing quality and competent legal representation to clients in Denver and throughout all of Colorado. He holds an MA in Political Science from Wayne State University and earned his law degree in two and a half years from Michigan State University College of Law.