Articles Posted in Boating Accidents

20130402_151224Duck_tour_londonThe photo on left is of my then 16 year-old son and me a few years ago as we were about to board the Duck Boat for a tour of Boston and its harbor. The “Duck Boat” – for those that don’t know — is a six-wheeled amphibious vehicle originally used as U.S. military landing craft during World War II, but later adapted for tourists in cities with a harbor, river or lake such as Boston, London, Philadelphia and Washington.

It was a cool ride!  We drove around B-Town, then drove right into the Harbor and kept going.  The tour guide — Duck Dude —  joked all the way through the tour while sharing useful and sometimes not-so-useful but sure-as-hell entertaining information.

But there is sad news this week for Duck Boat lovers. A Seattle Duck Boat crashed into a charter bus full of college kids. Terrible accident sending 50 people to the hospital.

boatingEveryone knows that driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious crime that can land you in jail. But few people know about boating while intoxicated (BWI) laws.

When we think of boating, we think of relaxing or even partying on the water, often with a cool beer in hand. We would never even consider doing the same while driving a car!

But the popular image of boozing while boating as “acceptable” behavior does not match the current state of the law in New York State. In 2006, Albany finally woke up to the statistical fact that boating while intoxicated is just as dangerous as driving a car while intoxicated. It thus passed a law ratcheting up the criminal penalties for boating while intoxicated to match those for driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated. And the BWI blood count limit is 08%, same as for driving a car. (The legal limit for minors is .02%).

boating.jpgThis past weekend, Memorial Day weekend, was a disappointment to many boaters in the Finger Lakes region. That’s because motor boats were banned on Keuka, Canandaigua and Honeoye Lakes. And on Seneca Lake there was a 5 mile per hour speed limit. Tough to get very far at that pace!

Rain and flash floods, which raised water levels and unleashed lots of floating debris, made the lakes dangerous to navigate with motorboats. In addition, some docks were underwater and could have been invisible hazards.

The authorities expect all lakes to be open for boating this next weekend, but local boaters ought to check the web or make some calls to make sure.

chicago.jpgstaten.jpgThumbnail image for truck.jpgair.jpgThe Metro-North engineer who derailed his train last year, killing four passengers and injuring dozens more, was suffering from a sleep disorder. He slept through the accident.

The driver of the Chicago subway train that recently crashed at O’Hare International Airport told authorities she fell asleep before the train entered the station. Her train derailed and raced up an escalator, causing injury and death.

In the 2003 Staten Island Ferry crash, it was determined that the pilot lost consciousness while at the ship’s controls. He had taken the painkillers tramadol and Tylenol PM, both of which can cause drowsiness as a side effect.

20130402_151224.jpg images.jpgA lawyer’s godda geddaway sometimes. But can you ever REALLY get away from your work?

Last week was spring break for my boys, so I took one of them, shown here with me, to Boston. (Actually, we were there to take my mother to see some specialists, but that’s another story . . .). While there, we jumped on the Boston Duck Tour. That’s an amphibious tour bus — the same bus that wheels you through the streets of Boston eventually plunges into, and then puts around in, the Boston harbor. See picture below.

As a Central New York personal injury lawyer, I see a lot of accidents, and it seems like a lot of them happen on holidays. Where others see fun I see disaster. And getting on a tour bus destined to drive into the Boston harbor was not exactly a tonic to my accident-phobia.

Thumbnail image for boating.jpgTwo recent tragic New York boating accidents have me blogging about boating safety again.

First, a cabin cruiser carrying 27 passengers capsized off Long Island on July 4th, killing three children. The boat, traveling in darkness, was carrying an extended family from watching a fireworks display near Oyster Bay. On the trip home, another boat’s wake apparently hit it, causing it to suddenly flip. Some witnesses from other boats say the boat took a sharp left turn before it flipped, so the steering might have been a cause, too.

But the boat may also have been overloaded. The problem with boats this size is that they usually don’t have any signage indicating a passenger limit. There is a general rule of thumb, though, for figuring out how many passengers a boat can handle: multiply the boat’s length by its width and divide by 15. It is not yet clear whether this boat was “overloaded” by that calculation, but 27 people on this 36-foot boat does seem excessive.

boating.jpgIt’s looking like a gorgeous Memorial Day weekend in New York’s beautiful Finger Lakes. The Finger Lakes are my home. I live on Seneca Lake, my office is near Owasco Lake, and my family has a cottage (“camp” as it is known locally) on Skaneateles Lake. These lakes, together with the other 8 Finger Lakes — Otisco Lake, Cayuga Lake, Keuka Lake, Canandaigua Lake, Honeoye Lake, Canadice Lake, Hemlock Lake, and Conesus Lake – form a natural water-bejeweled necklace.

Admiring the lakes from the shore is one thing, but many of us Finger-Lakers like to get out ON them. Unfortunately, every year I have an opportunity to blog about a serious, or fatal, boating accident on one of the Finger Lakes (see the blog links below this article). And sometimes my personal injury law firm ends up representing injured boaters in lawsuits against boat operators and others who cause boating accidents.

Almost every boating accident I have seen has been avoidable. But don’t worry – I am not going to lecture you about boating safety rules (like checking the weather forecast, maintaining a safe speed, designating an assistant skipper, avoiding alcohol if you are operating the boat, taking a boating course, checking your vessel for safety). Oops, I just did lecture you!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for boating.jpgIn a blog post earlier this week, I talked about last Saturday’s Seneca Lake boat accident that killed the owner of the Glen Harbor Marina and injured the Marina’s head mechanic. More recent news reports now indicate that the accident may have been caused by a defective steering system in the high-speed boat.

If in fact the steering system was at fault, the family of the deceased boating accident victim, along with the injured survivor, may both have a New York products liability (defective products) case against the manufacturer of the boat for marketing and selling a boat with a defectively designed or manufactured steering system.

The two men were test driving the high-speed boat when, according to the survivor (the Marina’s mechanic), the steering, on its own, started malfunctioning, causing a sharp turn that threw the two into the water.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for boating.jpgTragedy struck Seneca Lake this Labor Day weekend. A fatal boating accident happened near Juniper Point in Yates County near the town of Starkey. Two men, one the owner of nearby Glen Harbor Marina, took a high-speed “cigar” style boat owned by the Marina out for a test drive. As the boat was traveling at about 80 miles per hour, the driver apparently took a sharp turn that sent both men flying overboard into the rough water. The boat continued to circle at a high rate of speed with no men on board. One of the men, apparently the driver, who was wearing a life jacket, was rescued by witnesses and suffered a broken sternum, but the body of the other, the owner of the marina, was not found until Sunday by using remote control vehicles. He was not wearing a life jacket.

In another accident, a canoe capsized in the middle of Seneca Lake where it is three- miles wide. One of the canoists was wearing a life jacket. albeit somewhat small for him, and was able to float by the canoe and await help, but the other, who had no life jacket, was forced to swim all the way to the shore in the rough water. Fortunately, he made it and avoided tragedy.

New York State boating law does not require boaters to actually wear their life jackets — it only requires there to be a life jacket in the boat for all boaters. But as a Finger Lakes boating accident lawyer , I can tell you from experience that actually wearing your life jacket is a very good idea. As these two accidents demonstrate, it is an especially good idea to put your life jacket on under obviously more dangerous circumstances, such as when traveling at night or at high speeds, when taking sharp turns, when an inexperienced boat operator is driving, on rough water, or in a small unstable vessel. Remember that even if you are an excellent swimmer, you may be rendered unconscious if you are ejected by a sharp turn, or by a collision with debris, other objects or other boats.

Thumbnail image for boating.jpgThis Central New York Boating season (one of the best in recent history!) is drawing to an end, but not without more Central New York boating accidents. The most recent Central New York boat crash involved three boaters who were injured when their boat crashed into the Oswego Harbor breakwater, near the Oswego Lighthouse Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Although the damage done to the boat and to the wall indicates a high rate of speed, miraculously the worst injury appears to be a broken arm. All three boaters were taken to Oswego Hospital.

Police investigators believe alcohol consumption played a role in the crash. From my experience as a New York boating accident lawyer, I can tell you this is not unusual. Statistics bear me out: U.S. Coast Guard records indicate that MOST recreational boating fatalities involve alcohol! The same statistics indicate that a boat operator with blood alcohol level above .10 is ten times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than a boater who has consumed no alcohol. Experts say that the mixture of sun, wind, boat motion, wind and noise amplifies the effects of alcohol. To make matters worse, for some reason people who would never drink while driving a car feel it is perfectly fine to drink, and even drink heavily, while boating.

Boating deaths are second only to car accident deaths in transportation-related fatalities in the United States. More people die in boating accidents than die in airplane, train wrecks, or bus accidents.

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