Georgia Personal Injury Trial Attorneys

3 Ways Boating Cases Differ From Automobiles

By: Fry | Goehring

Boating is more popular than ever due to COVID-19 and social distancing. It is a perfect way to enjoy the outdoors in a safe and controlled manner. Unfortunately, this also means that there are likely to be more accidents as a result of an increase in interest. Boating accidents are similar to vehicle accidents in many ways. Both tend to occur at high speeds, are due to distractions, and can cause serious injury to those involved. However, boating accidents have many differences that your attorney will have to be aware of.

Driving a Boat

Here are 3 ways boating accidents differ from automobiles.


In land-vehicle accidents, there may be debris left on the road, video footage from onlookers, local business security footage, or access to immediate emergency services. Boating accidents differ in that there are rarely others around to witness a boating accident, so any footage whether it be from bystanders, or security cameras, is not available. There are emergency services used for boating accidents, but they may not be as accessible or readily available as an ambulance service or fire department. Many times, police will get to the scene of an accident within minutes on land, but it can take a lot longer for a police service to reach a boat depending on where they are located. Commonly when there is a boating accident, the involved party or parties will first return to shore and then contact the police or other relevant services about the accident. This can cause evidence to be less effective, and the memory of those involved to be warped. The longer after an accident you wait to give your account, the less accurate your information may be due to several different factors, one of which being shock from the accident itself.

If you are involved in a boating accident, it is important to write down all relevant information into your phone or on paper right away so you can correctly recall it when you talk to the police or your insurance company. Similarly, taking pictures of the damages, injuries, and conditions of the accident is crucial.

Boat Size

Most vehicles driving on the road have a limit to about 4 or 5 passengers. This and the overall size and weight of the vehicle can make a big difference during an accident. If two small vehicles collide with only 1 driver in each vehicle, the damage is likely to be less than if a semi hits a van full of people. Now Boat sizes can also range from small single-user boats to boats that can fit hundreds or more. The size of the boat you are in can have a large impact on the damages you suffer.

The biggest difference when it comes to the size of a boat vs the size of a car is cars are designed to prevent as much damage from an impact as possible, whereas boats have little to no protection in the event of a collision or other similar accident. On a large boat, this could spell disaster for the passengers involved. Smaller boats tend to suffer less damage but can still be significant depending on the accident.

To further muddy the waters, people on larger boats tend to drink alcohol which can lead to a decrease in proper judgment and safety. In the event of an accident, an intoxicated person will be significantly less likely to see it coming and prepare themselves. According to the US Coast Guard 2019 Recreational Boating Statistics, about 7% of documented boating accidents were due to alcohol use. While this number may seem low, alcohol was the leading cause of deaths and contributed 18% of the total documented boating casualties. To learn more about these and other boating statistics, CLICK HERE.

Conditions and Other Vehicles

Driving while it is raining out can make it a more dangerous experience. Similarly, operating a boat in poor weather conditions can make boating significantly more dangerous. While land vehicles have the luxury of streetlights and clearly marked roads, boats have full reign of the body of water they are in. While this is one of the benefits of operating boats, it can also be dangerous. While driving a boat, you are less likely to collide with another boat as you have plenty of time to see other boats around you. In poor conditions such as thunderstorms, fog, or turbulent waves, another boat could be anywhere. During these times, accidents are both significantly more likely, and dangerous.

Boating can be an extremely rewarding and fun hobby to have and can enrich the lives of those involved. Being careful on a boat is quite like land vehicles, but there are certainly some key differences that those partaking should be aware of. Educating yourself on safety measures can help prevent injury and property damage. Always make sure you are as educated as possible so that you can ensure your safety and the safety of others.