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Boat Launch Injuries


The National Marine Manufacturers Association estimated that there were 11 million trailer-pulled boats across the United States in 2018. Some boats sit in driveways or backyards and rarely make it out to the water while other, more experienced boaters are frequently at the boat launch. Both novice and experienced boat operators make mistakes at the boat launch, particularly on busy weekends or when drivers and/or boaters have been drinking alcohol. While some mistakes can be turned into funny stories, other mishaps that occur at the boat launch can result in serious personal injury. In such cases, the victims should consult with an experienced Naples personal injury attorney.

Hazards of a Boat Launch 

Boat launches are hazardous places because they can become congested with trucks, trailers, motorboats, inexperienced boat operators, and intoxicated passengers. In addition to all of the movement, the conditions of the boat launch can require extra care. For instance, some boat launches are slippery because of algae that has grown on the ramp. Other hazards include steep ramps, broken concrete ramps, erosion, and the lack of a boarding platform. Weather conditions, such as strong winds, rain, or currents, can also add to the mix of hazardous conditions at a boat launch.

Boating (and Driving) Under the Influence

Many boat operators hold an incorrect notion that, out on the open water, tossing back a few beers is no big deal. Yet, one third of fatal boating accidents involve a boat operator who was Boating Under the Influence (BUI), according to USCG.org. A blood alcohol content of 0.08 while operating a boat is just as illegal as operating a car while drunk. At the dock or boat ramp, a driver or a boat operator’s intoxication puts everyone around them at serious risk.

Injuries that Can Result from a Failed Boat Launch 

  • Head injuries from being knocked by a vehicle if the vehicle is not properly placed in park;
  • Crushing limb injuries if someone gets trapped underneath the vehicle or trailer;
  • Drowning if the vehicle drift back into the water;
  • Skinned legs from falling on algae-covered boat ramps;
  • Back injury caused by the boat being rocked from another boat ignoring the no-wake zone;
  • Sprain, strains, broken bones, and more.

Tips To Stay Safe at a Boat Launch 

  • Leave your radio off and windows down. This will make it easier to hear instructions from others in your party but will also offer an escape route for any passengers in the car should it roll backwards into the water;
  • Have another experienced party help guide your boat into the water. Make sure to talk to this party and explain your plan for removing/placing your boat in the water, and do not just assume they know what you are doing;
  • Be patient and wait your turn;
  • Hold onto or tie down boats to the dock quickly;
  • Pay attention to any currents or wind that may push your boat into another;
  • Watch out for pedestrians when you are backing up in your car, and for waders or swimmers near the dock;
  • Never drink and drive or drink and boat; and
  • Call an attorney if a careless party causes you to become seriously injured

What Insurance Applies?

Chances are you have both boat insurance and auto insurance, but which one applies in a boat launch accident? It is complex and depends on the wording of the insurance policies. Moreover, it depends what party you were injured by. If a distracted driver ran into you with his trailer while you were attempting to guide your boat onto your own trailer, that party’s auto insurance would apply to your claim. If a drunk boat operator came into the ramp with too much speed and knocked you out of your boat, causing you to get crushed between the dock and your own boat, it is likely that their boating insurance would apply to your personal injury claim. Your attorney can help you answer this question more thoroughly.

Reach Out to an Experienced Naples Boat Dock or Boat Ramp Injury Attorney Today

Chances are, the injuries you sustained at the boat ramp were the fault of a careless or intoxicated boat operator or driver. As such, they must be held accountable by filing a personal injury claim, otherwise you will be on your own to pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other losses. The Naples personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A. can help you win your case. Call us today at 239-649-8050 to schedule your free consultation.




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