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Taylorsville and other water-side destinations in Utah are incredibly popular for a day out in the sun. Unfortunately, many boaters fail to consider the rules of the water or mistakenly believe that regulations such as DUI laws and speed limits do not apply or even exist. In fact, Utah has several laws that govern the actions and ensure the safety of everyone on the state’s waters.
Following these laws is especially important during the warmer seasons, which bring less experienced people to the water. Plus, crowdedness and increased activity amplifies the likelihood of an accident. Do you know how to respond if such an event occurs? Chances are you might not look into boating laws or types of issues you may encounter until after an accident has occurred. If you were injured on the lake and it was not your fault, contact our Taylorsville boating accident lawyers. We have years of experience dealing with boating accidents and can help you answer all the questions you may have regarding insurance, medical bill expenses, how to prove someone else was at fault and keeping paperwork simple.
With many large boating lakes and reservoirs, Utah offers a wide variety of watersports, such as jet skiing, kayaking, boating, fishing, rafting and more. When you head out for a fun day on the water, it is essential to know Utah’s rules and regulations. For example, waterways in the state have legal speed limits and restrictions regarding blood alcohol concentration while operating a boat. Abiding by these laws helps avoid mishaps and injuries.
The popularity of recreational water activities means a significant number of people on the water at any given time, increasing the likelihood of getting in an accident. Many individuals are unaware that several laws govern water activities. Suppose you suffer injuries from an incident on a lake or reservoir. You may need to learn what rules apply in your case and the steps you must take to recover damages. A boating accident lawyer has the experience to help you navigate filing insurance claims, proving fault and securing compensation for your related expenses.
Mishaps can occur when boaters are unfamiliar with how to operate specific watercraft or do not know the rules regarding the right-of-way. Most accidents in Utah waters happen as a result of operator errors. A federal study shows 5,265 boating accidents and 767 deaths in 2020. Knowing the common reasons for injuries on the water can help you avoid disaster during your lake outings.
Boating under the influence is a leading cause of recreational boat accidents. Drinking alcohol or taking substances impairs judgment, balance, coordination and decision-making capacities. This state significantly affects an individual’s ability to operate a boat safely. Often, people relaxing on the water forget that they need a sober boat operator to ensure everyone’s safety.
Water enthusiasts may feel that operating a watercraft is less dangerous than driving a car because of the slower traveling speeds, increased visibility and absence of roads. However, many elements on a lake affect a boat operator. Bodies of water have unpredictable conditions, such as strong currents, sun glare, water spray, boat motion and engine noise, increasing driver fatigue due to a heightened need for vigilance. Drugs and alcohol further hinder a watercraft operator’s reaction speeds and judgment.
People taking a boat out for the day often lack experience operating the vessel. They do not typically drive a boat daily, making intoxication even more hazardous. Without significant knowledge, people do not have the confidence or ability to make quick decisions when faced with potentially dangerous situations. Pairing this inexperience with the effects of alcohol can lead to tragic results.
Unlike driving a motor vehicle, you do not need a license to operate a boat. Although Utah recommends that watercraft operators receive boat education, it only legally requires it for drivers between the ages of 12 and 17. Boaters may not know how to handle vessels safely or understand the rules on the water. Inexperience results in dangerous maneuvering, unsafe speeds, failure to assess stopping distances and more, causing numerous injuries and damages.
You are likely aware of how distracted driving on the roads causes car crashes. Chatting with passengers, eating, partying or diverting attention to animals or small children while operating a boat can also lead to collisions. Electronic devices can take an operator’s attention away from the water or cause lighting conditions that reduce visibility. Sun reflecting off objects on board can result in glare that hinders the driver’s line of sight.
Many people underestimate the dangers of speeding in a boat. When there is good visibility, operators can mistakenly believe it is acceptable to travel at high speeds. However, it is easy for boat drivers to miscalculate distances on a lake. Zipping through the water when visibility is low presents obvious concerns and increases the likelihood of collisions. Boats do not have brakes, meaning it will take time for the vessel to stop. Fast speeds in choppy waters can also cause boats to flip.
Utah waterways have speed limits. Not knowing the laws or choosing not to follow them can lead to boating crashes and other hazards. The state’s rules require an idle speed in designated wakeless areas or within 150 feet of another watercraft, person, dock or swimming area. If your boat does not have railings, passengers may not sit on the sides, front, back or motor cover when going faster than a wakeless speed.
You cannot operate personal watercraft, like WaveRunners and Jet Skis, between sunset and sunrise, as they do not have lights. This time limit also applies to towing people behind your boat on wakeboards, water skis or other devices. Laws regarding proper idling procedures help prevent potential carbon monoxide poisoning.
All boats should have specific safety equipment in good working order to assist in emergencies. Most boating deaths result from drowning. When collisions occur, injured people can have difficulty swimming well. Having enough lifejackets on board and requiring passengers to wear them can help prevent tragic situations.
Failure to maintain safety equipment properly can also lead to injuries and deaths in an accident. Wearable lifejackets must be in good condition, readily accessible and in appropriate sizes. Throwable devices must also be available for immediate use. When equipment is defective or hard to access, it does not serve its intended purpose, leaving boaters vulnerable to harm.
Equipment requirements vary depending on the size of the recreational boat and include items such as:
Poor upkeep of boats contributes to mishaps on the water. If an owner fails to winterize a boat in Utah properly, moisture trapped inside can freeze and expand. Additionally, salt and corrosion can build up, damaging engine components. Owners must regularly assess a boat’s mechanical systems and perform routine maintenance. Trained technicians should inspect a vessel’s engine and exhaust systems annually. If machinery fails on the water, it can lead to accidents and injuries.
Following an incident on the water, first assess the health and safety of everyone involved. Administer first aid to injured persons. Send a distress signal or call the police to report your accident immediately if there are significant property damages or bodily injuries. Additionally:
After taking care of details at the site of the accident, get medical attention right away, even if you think your injuries are minimal. Notify your insurance agency without discussing fault.
If you have bodily damages resulting from an accident you did not cause, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. Your injuries may require ongoing medical treatments, surgeries or physical therapy. You may have to miss work for medical care or have a diminished capacity to earn a living. Discussing your case with an experienced attorney can help you determine how to pursue a lawsuit and get the compensation you deserve.
Accidents on the water typically occur when boats collide or capsize. The high power of most watercraft increases crash impacts and can throw passengers overboard. These misfortunes can result in many types of bodily injuries, such as:
When accidents happen on the water, it can take time for emergency medical aid to arrive. If boat operators sustain injuries, there may be no one to request assistance or drive the boat to shore.
The basis of most personal injury claims is another person’s negligence. If someone else caused the incident that injured you, you have a legal right to seek recovery of your monetary losses. Consulting an attorney can help you understand your rights regarding the unique circumstances of your situation.
Some potentially liable parties in boating accident cases include:
Filing an insurance claim for your accident can be confusing and frustrating. Whether you are dealing with your insurer or the other party’s agent, insurance companies work to reduce the amount they must pay. A knowledgeable lawyer can help with proving your case and negotiating fair compensation.
A collision or other disaster on the water can lead to long-term consequences. Protecting your rights and securing adequate compensation for injuries and damages are essential tasks. Contact our experienced attorneys online or at 877-880-4090 to schedule a free consultation. Learn how we can assist with your case. Working on a contingency basis, we only get paid if you do.