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When Boating Accidents Hurt Skiers

People who use Jet Skis or water skies are more vulnerable to boating accidents. States have strict safety laws governing personal watercraft and water skiing activities, some of which involve the operators of tow boats.

Laws Protect Water-Related Activities
Occupants of Jet Skis have a high risk of being ejected and of drowning as the result of an accident. Water skiers can be injured by boat hardware and emissions, ski equipment, obstacles, or collisions with other vessels.

Crashes with skiers often produce:
  • Head injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Facial lacerations
  • Fractured extremities
Skiers may also experience:
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Asphyxiation
  • Hypothermia
All of these types of injuries tend to be serious and may induce unconsciousness and end in a drowning. If you have been injured by another party while skiing, tort laws in your state allow you to file a civil lawsuit to seek damages for personal injury.

If your loved one has been in a fatal maritime accident, you can sue those responsible for wrongful death. A local boat accident attorney who knows the laws in your state, as well as any additional federal or municipal boating laws that may apply, can represent you in court.

Who Is at Fault When Boating Accidents Injure Skiers
If you were hurt by another moving craft while being towed on water skis, a wakeboard or an inflatable device, medical attention is the first priority.

Filing an incident report and determining who was to blame will come next. Be sure to get contact numbers for the person who hit you and any witnesses, if possible. Bystanders are often willing to come forward with testimony when they see an injury caused by negligent boat driving.

When selecting a personal injury attorney you’ll want to ask critical questions such as: how long have you been practicing law; do you have experience with maritime cases; what is the biggest settlement or verdict you have won?

Your accident attorney will help you piece together the facts of the accident to assess whether the operator of your water ski tow boat or the colliding vessel was at fault.

For instance, the admiralty laws in your state may require that a warning flag be posted when a skier is in the water. If the flag wasn’t there when the boating accident happened, the boat operator could be liable. On the other hand, if the oncoming vessel was speeding and unable to turn or stop in time to avoid colliding with you, that boat operator would be responsible for your injuries.

If you were operating a personal watercraft (PWC) and collided with another PWC or a boat, similar considerations will be made. The age and education laws regarding PWC operation may indicate a clear liability if the accident is caused by an unauthorized user.

Proving Negligence in Water Ski or Jet Ski Accidents
By law, boat operators have a duty of reasonable care toward their passengers, swimmers, skiers and other boats on the water. If they fail to follow boat safety rules and cause an injurious or fatal accident, they can be sued for negligence. Some jurisdictions add civil fines and criminal penalties to personal awards for damages. This is the case in every state where alcohol is a factor in accidents.  

Reckless driving can include weaving, speeding, ignoring no-wake zones, and buzzing, or spraying skiers with a boat’s wake. This behavior is subject to a variety of maritime penalties. Boating under the influence (BUI) carries steep punishments because related accidents tend to be more deadly. According to a recent report, (U.S. Coast Guard, 2007), close to 50% of all fatal accidents that year involved drunk boating.

If you suspect or know alcohol to be a factor in your water ski or Jet Ski collision with a boat, a civil lawsuit based on reckless and negligent operation will be well founded.

A boating accident can leave you with serious personal injuries such as a head injury or brain injury. Accidents in general can devastate and completely change your life. If you have been injured in a boat accident or hurt in a Jet Ski accident, complete our short questionnaire for a list of experienced boating accident attorneys in your area.

An experienced boating accident attorney can help you understand your rights and determine liability. Most states have a statute of limitations that may prohibit you from filing a lawsuit if too much time has passed.
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