Massachusetts Boating Accidents

Many people equate personal injury law to motor vehicle accidents, slips and falls, dog bites, and everything in between.  But, boating accidents account for a large number of personal injuries each year which many people do not realize.  This story is out of Rhode Island but applies to Massachusetts as well. 

Boating accidents occur with alarming frequency in the summer months in New England and beyond.  Here is an excerpt of a story, provided by EastBayRI.com, on how drinking while operating a boat may result in fatal consequences:

Piloting a boat is a challenge enough without being drunk

EAST BAY – It’s a Memorial Day weekend nightmare: The driver steaming your way has just a few hours of experience behind the wheel, and is full of booze and bravado. What began as a family vacation day in the sun is about to turn into a disaster caused by a drunk — one who is piloting a boat.

Boating while intoxicated (BWI) has become an insidious problem on waterways throughout the country, including New England’s, and the issue is being addressed with stronger blood alcohol level testing and penalties.

Don’t let the first big outing of the year be your last, due to death or injury or destruction or seizure of your boat. It does happen.

Nearly 4,000 people in the United States were injured in boating accidents in 2003, the most recent year for data, and 701 were killed, reports the American Boating Association out of Harwich Port, Mass. BWI was identified as part of the problem in 31 percent of the fatalities.

Mike Anderson, ABA director, said a preponderance of deaths are due to drowning among passengers who tumble overboard.

"Maybe one guy is designated driver," said Mr. Anderson, "but he’s got three or four people drinking on a rolling boat. And people fall off all the time. They don’t have a life jacket on and over they go. Driving a boat can be a challenge in itself. Then you throw in alcohol and it’s an ugly mix."

Rhode Island law prohibits anyone from boating while intoxicated (BWI); this includes the operation of any powerboat, sailboat, personal watercraft, water skis, sailboard, or similar device. Intoxicated means a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs such that his or her thoughts or actions are impaired, causing a danger to others.

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