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What Steps Do I Take If I Am in a Boating Accident?

Louisiana is a popular recreation hotspot for boaters. There are several lakes and rivers that see visitors and unfortunately see accidents as well. Boating accidents are just as serious as a car accident and can cause just as much injury. It is important to understand your rights after a boating accident. Contact a boating accident attorney in Lake Charles for all your lawsuit needs.

What Are the Requirements for Personal Watercraft?

Every person that is on board a personal watercraft must wear a United States Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device, such as a life jacket. The driver of the watercraft must also wear a lanyard-style ignition switch that they have attached to themselves, their clothing, or their life jacket.

In the state of Louisiana, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 16-years-old to operate a watercraft under any circumstances. Anyone who allows anyone under 16-years-old to operate a watercraft can be charged as well.

It is illegal to operate a watercraft between sunset and sunrise. Drivers of these types of crafts should avoid areas where there are fishermen, other watercraft that have been anchored, and people swimming in the water.

There is an etiquette when navigating the waters of Louisiana with a personal watercraft. It is illegal for operators to weave in and out of waterway traffic, jump the wakes created by other watercraft when there is a low level of visibility, and to operate in a negligent manner that would cause the operator to need to swerve last minute to avoid a possible collision.

Possible Criminal Charges Involving Personal Watercraft Operation

There are many crimes that can be committed while operating a watercraft. A lot of the same rules that apply to motor vehicles also apply to personal watercraft.

  • Carless Operation – Careless operation is when the operator of a watercraft acts in a manner that is careless to any other person or property or travels at a rate of speed that could be considered outside the realm of reasonable care to bring themselves and their watercraft to a successful stop in time to avoid collision.
  • Reckless Operation – Any actions taken by an operator of a personal watercraft that endangers a person or their body, or the property of any person can be considered reckless.
  • Negligent Homicide – If the death of a person occurs due to the reckless, careless, or negligent operation of a watercraft or while using excessive speed, the operator can be held accountable for the death under negligent homicide charges.
  • Interfering with Navigation – As a personal watercraft operator, it is illegal to operate your watercraft in a way that it hinders others from operating theirs. Basically, you can’t block waterways, passages, or park under bridges. You can be charged if you are found interfering in any way.
  • Intoxication – Louisiana law states that no person can operate a personal watercraft of any kind under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other substances that alter their state of consciousness. In that regard, anyone who knowingly allows a person under the influence of these items to operate a rented or personal watercraft can also be charged.
  • Incapacity – It is illegal for anyone to allow a person who is not mentally or physically fit to operate a watercraft, even if it is their own personal watercraft.

What to Do in a Lake Charles Boating Accident

Much like a car accident, if you are involved in a boating accident it is important to stop the watercraft where the accident occurs. If either person in the accident is injured, the uninjured party must assist them or try to minimize danger unless it will cause personal injury.

The operators of the watercraft involved in the collision must exchange their information. This includes:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Identifying number of the watercraft

This must be done in writing and must be given to anyone injured or anyone with property damage resulting from the collision.

The police, state police, or Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Division must be notified immediately if:

  • Severe injury occurs
  • Death
  • Disappearance of someone on the watercraft
  • Property damage that is over $500
  • Total loss of a watercraft due to collision

The driver of any watercraft involved in an accident must forward a department-approved incident report regarding the accident to Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries within 5 days of the accident.

Personal Injury Lawsuit in a Lake Charles Boating Accident

It is important when you are in a boating accident with another person or watercraft to follow the rules associated with reporting the accident. Failure to do so can look suspicious or bring forth larger consequences. If you have been injured in an accident on Louisiana’s bodies of water, hire a Lake Charles boating accident law office who can help you file your personal injury lawsuit and walk you through the process.

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