Whatever floats your boat, they say. Imagine the pure joy of boating in a beautiful Wisconsin lake during summer, only to crash the waters later in the day due to someone’s negligence.

The state’s Department of Natural Resources reported 20 fatal boating accidents last year, on top of another 112 boat-related incidents. If you’re contemplating sailing away or already in the middle of the aquatic fun, take extra precautions by reading on. 

Leading causes of boating accidents

Before operating or renting a boat, you must ensure the operator follows state requirements. These include a registration certificate with an assigned number and expiration decals displayed on the boat’s side, which must always be available for inspection. Also, note that a temporary operating receipt for recently registered boat owners is only valid for 60 days. Further, any motorized boat or 16 feet and over sailboat must have a certificate of title or a Federal Coast Guard documentation certificate.

There are innumerable ways things can go astray while enjoying a boat ride. When boating accidents occur, your injuries may range from minor bruises to severe bone and brain injuries, or in the worst cases, even death. It is essential to watch out for the following potential causes of boating accidents:

  • Drowning: If the boat capsizes or two boats collide, overthrowing people on board
  • Operator recklessness: If the operator is intoxicated, operates in designated swimming areas, disturbs wildlife, weaves through boat traffic or jumps a wake of another vessel within 100 feet
  • Unacceptable operator behavior: If the operator is speeding, inattentive or too inexperienced
  • Lack of safety equipment: If the boat’s operators and passengers do not wear life jackets or carry emergency supplies, horns, operable boat lights and fire extinguishers approved by the U.S. Coast Guard

90% of boating fatalities are a result of not wearing life jackets. Aside from wearing a floatation device, the state reminds boaters to exercise caution by taking a safety course, keeping a close eye on weather disturbances, abiding by the boat’s weight capacity and following all boat traffic rules.

Any liable party may face legal consequences, depending on the offense committed and the severity of damages. For instance, fines for boating under the influence range from $300 for a first offense, six months imprisonment and a $1,000 fine for a second offense, and a year of jail time with a $2,000 fine for a third or subsequent offenses.

Boat responsibly

Extreme caution is the best defense against water tragedies. If you are in a boating accident, seek urgent medical attention. A legal team can guide you afterward in filing a claim. They can help you understand the state’s boating regulations, complete reports, gather evidence and recover compensation, so you can get back to enjoying the waves in no time.