Articles Posted in Boating Accidents

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As a finger lakes boat accident lawyer and boating enthusiast, I try to keep up on boating law developments.  Well, there’s a big development coming down the pipes:  A bill is sitting on the Governor’s desk that will require all owners and operators of motorized boats (including jet skis) to take a NY State certified boating safety course. The current law says that only those born after May 1, 1996 have to take the boating safety course.

When the proposed new law says “alloperators and owners of boats, it really does mean all, no matter how old, no matter how long they have owned or operated a boat.  Are you 93 and been boating for 73 of those years?  You still would have to take the course! The new proposed law is called “Brianna’s Law” in honor of Brianna Lieneck, an 11-year-old victim of a boating accident.  Most legal experts think the Governor will sign the bill.  If so, it will take effect on January 1, 2020.  The good news is that the course can be taken online, though it can also be taken in a classroom setting.

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Yes, you read that caption right.  This personal injury lawyer wants FEWER boating accident cases.  Not because I don’t enjoy representing those injured through negligent boating (I do), but because I want there to be fewer accidents altogether.  I have enough personal injury cases.  I don’t need more and would prefer fewer cases if it meant fewer people were being injured and killed in boating accidents.

And I think I know a way to make boating much safer, and to avoid accidents.  Here me out!

But before you hear me out, here’s a little background.  I just became a first-time boat owner.  Not that I am new to boats.  I grew up around motor boats and sail boats (on Skaneateles Lake) and have been using my brothers’ motor boats for many years. I have boated on Cayuga Lake, Owasco Lake and Seneca Lake.

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.

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