Boating Accidents Lawyer | Jet Ski Accident Lawyer | Duck Boat Accident Lawyer | Fishing Boat Accident Attorney | Lake Boat Accident Lawyer
Every year thousands of New Orleanians plan a trip to go boating or swimming with their friends on one of the many lakes, rivers, or bayous in Louisiana. Most of the time their trips are an enjoyable, relaxing, and fun time spent with their friends and family. Unfortunately, not every trip to the lakes, bayous, and waters surrounding New Orleans ends happily. In fact, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries concluded that more than 40 recreational boating fatalities occur in Louisiana each year, not to mention countless boating injuries that do not result in fatality and property damage claims. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, contact a New Orleans boating accident attorney immediately because you only have two years from the date of injury to file your claim.
What are the common causes of Louisiana boating accidents?
1. No Brakes
Unlike cars, boats and jet skis do not have brakes. Once they are in motion they can only maneuver to avoid an accident. Though some boats have an option to reverse causing a lesser speed at impact, the accident still occurs. Often though, by the time the people involved in the accident realize what is about to happen it is too late to prevent it.
2. Alcohol and/or Drugs
One of the largest factors in boating accidents is alcohol. It is well documented that a person's reaction time is hindered when under the influence of alcohol. Moreover, you can actually lose your drivers license if you are caught drinking and boating! In Louisiana, any arrest for DUI while boating will affect your automobile driving privileges.
Click here to read the Louisiana Boater Education Course's guidelines on boating alcohol and drug use.
3. Alcohol & Sun Exposure
In addition to drinking, many boaters fail to take into account that they will be out in the sun all day. As a result, they are more likely to become drunk from less alcohol due to dehydration from the sun. The best way to ensure a safe boating experience is to have the person driving the boat be a designated driver for the day by agreeing not to drink any alcohol. Boating and drinking do not mix!
Another common cause of boating accidents is the weather. It is well known that New Orleans and all of southern Louisiana can have extremely unpredictable and violent weather, and often endure hurricanes and severe downpours. When you are out on the water, even a small storm can easily lead to tragedy. The combination of high winds, rain water, and swells of the waves or wake from other vessels can easily lead to boats colliding or turning over. It takes an experienced boater to be able to weather a storm in a boat. In addition to storms, the sun reflecting off of the water leads to increased chances of boaters to suffer from heat stroke and heat exhaustion. When suffering from heat stroke or exhaustion a common symptom is to faint and if the boater is boating alone then while he is unconscious there is an unmanned vessel on the water. Obviously, this can lead to serious injury.
5. Inexperienced Boaters
Finally, the most common cause of boat accidents is inexperienced boaters in dangerous and unfamiliar situations. Similar to a paved road, waterways have rules that govern how boats are supposed to interact when passing one another. When one person is ignorant of these rules or ignores them, it can easily lead to a boating accident. To learn these rules, every boater should take a boater safety course. These courses are offered both online and in a classroom. For the Louisiana online boater safety course, go to Online Boater Education. You may also wish to view the American Boat Operator Video and the United State Power Squadron-America's Boating Course.
If you would rather take a boater safety course in a live classroom setting, New Orleans area courses are available at:
Jefferson East Bank Regional Library
St. Charles East Bank Regional Library
Call (504) 284-2023 to pre-register for a class.
There is no excuse for a person that plans to man a watercraft not to take a boater safety course. In fact, some of these classes only charge you if you successfully complete the course. On top of that, the course will likely pay for itself because, after certification, you can talk to your insurance company about lowering your boat insurance premiums and PWC premiums. You can read more about insurance savings here. If you wish to take advantage of these savings and become more educated about Louisiana boating practices, click here for the Louisiana Boat Certification Exam.
More information on Louisiana boater safety is available at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' regional New Orleans office, located at:
New Orleans Office
University Research Tech Park
2021 Lakeshore Drive Suite 204
New Orleans, LA 70122
A full list of regional offices in the State of Louisiana is available here.
Who is Responsible for my injury and What can I Recover if I Hire a New Orleans Boat Injury Lawyer?
Typically the person who caused your injury is who your New Orleans Boat Accident Lawyer will sue to make you whole. Under Louisiana law, a person is responsible for your injury if they acted negligently. It is important to contact a New Orleans boat accident attorney because, depending on the facts of your boating injury, you may be able to sue more than just the person who was driving the boat.
If you have suffered an injury due to another person's negligent boating, your New Orleans boat accident attorney can recover the following damages from the negligent boat owner or operator:
- Property damage;
- Loss of Wages and/or Loss of Earning Capacity;
- Medical expenses;
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental Anguish;
- Physical Disfigurement; and
- Physical Impairment
Call a New Orleans Fishing Boat Injury Lawyer Today
Many boating accidents occur at night when people are coming in after fishing all day. Unfortunately, many times they do not want to end their fun, and they stay out on the water well past dark, creating a more dangerous boating situation. Too many times, small fishing boats are not equipped with running lights or radar, causing collisions between boats. Injuries sustained in these collisions can be very dangerous and can sometimes also result in a drowning. This is especially true because people dislike wearing life preservers, or personal flotation devices (PFDs), and if you are knocked unconscious, this can easily cause you to drown.
Duck Boat Injury Lawyer
For many Louisiana sportsmen, if you are a duck hunting enthusiast, then there is nothing better than getting in your duck boat and taking it out for a hunting trip with your fellow hunters. As a duck hunter, you know that the sport presents numerous potential risks for injury ranging from gun misfires and accidental shootings. In addition to the regular dangers of hunting, duck hunting adds to the equation a large list of boating dangers ranging from running aground to collisions. If you have to utilize a boat to get to a blind and someone is injured in the boat due to the negligence of the driver, contact a duck boating incident lawyer today.
What do I do if I am involved in a boating accident or witness an accident?
Louisiana laws place different obligations upon those who are involved in a boating accident and those who witness an accident. If you have witnessed a boating accident, Louisiana boating laws place no obligation upon you to provide assistance to those involved in the accident. On the other hand, if you have been involved in a boating accident the first thing you should do is look out for the safety for yourself and all of your passengers on board. After you have addressed the safety of all of the people on your vessel you should address any life threatening damage to your boat such as a fire or a hole in the hull of the boat that may cause you or your passengers harm. Next, Louisiana boating laws requires you to offer assistance to anyone injured in the accident and minimize the danger the accident poses to other boaters.
Further, you must provide in writing to anyone that was injured in the accident and to the owner of any damaged property the operator of the vessel's name, address, and identifying number of the vessel he was operating. Finally, the driver of the vessel must report the accident in writing to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries within 48 hours if a person dies or is injured and within 5 days if property damage exceeds $200. The State of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries have three forms to assist you in reporting a boating accident. The first is Operator Boating Incident Report. The second is the Boating Incident Vessel Supplement Report. Finally, the third report is the Boat Incident Report Request Form.
Does Louisiana law require me to have any specific equipment on my boat?
Depending on the type of boat you own Louisiana and Federal law requires you to have certain safety equipment aboard your boat. If your boat is less than 26 feet it must have a Type B-1 fire extinguisher in serviceable condition and readily available aboard the ship if any of the following conditions are met:
- The boat has an inboard engine,
- Closed compartments and compartments under seats where portable fuel tanks may be stored,
- Double bottoms not sealed to the hull or which are not completely filled with flotation materials,
- Closed living spaces,
- Closed stowage compartments in which combustible or flammable materials are stored, or
- Permanently installed fuel tanks. Fuel tanks secured so they cannot be moved in case of fire or other emergency are considered permanently installed. There are no gallon capacity limits to determine if the tank is portable. If the weight of a fuel tank is such that persons on board cannot move it, the Coast Guard considers it permanently installed.
If your boat is between 26 and 40 feet and is mechanically propelled Louisiana law requires you to have two Type B-1 extinguishers on board and readily accessible. Vessels in excess of 65 feet must comply with Federal Boating Standards which can be found at the U.S. Coast Guard's Boating Safety Resource Center.
Personal Flotation Device.
All boats must have at least one personal flotation device that is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard for each person onboard. The life jacket must be wearable and the proper size for each person on the boat. Further, Louisiana law requires that children 16 years of age and under to wear a life jacket approved by the Coast Guard at all times when the boat is moving and under 26 feet long.
Every boat must have navigation lights of some sort and they must be used when the boat is away from the dock after sunset and before sunrise or when there is low visibility. Generally, boats must have a red (port side) and a green (starboard) sidelights and an all around white light. If your motorboat or vessel is a either Class A or Class 1 it shall carry the following lights:
- A bright white light aft to show all around the horizon, and
- A combined lantern in the fore part of the vessel and lower than the white aft showing green to starboard and red to port so fixed as to throw the light from right ahead to two points abaft the beam on their respective sides.
Now, if your motorboat or vessel is Class 2 or Class 3 then Louisiana Boating laws require she carry the following lights:
- A bright white light in the fore part of the vessel as near the stern as practicable so constructed as to show an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of twenty points of the compass and so fixed as to throw the light ten points on each side of the vessel, namely from right ahead to two points abaft the beam on either side, and
- A bright white light aft to show all around the horizon and higher than the white light forward.
If you are unfamiliar with what class your boat is then please visit the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Required Equipment and Regulations page.
Sound Producing Devices
The requirements for sound producing devices differs in state waters from federal waters. In Louisiana state waters, Every motorboat or vessel of Class 1, 2, or 3, shall be provided with an efficient whistle or other sound-producing mechanical appliance. Every motorboat or vessel of Class 2 or 3 shall be provided with an efficient bell. In Federal waters a vessel less than 39.4 feet requires a whistle or horn and vessels longer than 39.4 feet the law requires a whistle or horn and bell is required.
Here is a list of common sound signals that are used on the waters. We recommend that you keep a list of these signals on your boat so that you can properly communicate with other boater on the water:
Warning Signal: one prolonged blast
Danger Signal: Five or more blasts
Port Side Passing: 1 short blast
Starboard Passing: 2 short blasts
For Louisiana's Rules of the Road for Vessels, click here.
Summary of Louisiana Boating Regulations
The following information is intended to summarize some of the major provisions of Louisiana's boating regulations. For more extensive and up-to-date information on Louisiana's boating regulations, visit the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' boating website. Click here to see a list of new Louisiana boating regulations.
- Boater Education Courses: All persons age 20 or under must complete a boat education course to operate a motorboat in excess of 10 horsepower. The course must be approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. While boating, these persons must carry proof of having completed the course.
- Age Restrictions: No person under 16 years of age may operate a personal watercraft. Additionally, no person who owns or is in charge of a personal watercraft may knowingly permit a person under 13 years of age to operate that watercraft. Boat rental companies are prohibited from renting a watercraft to anyone under age 13.
- Alcohol Regulations: The operation of any kind of vessel, or use of water skis, surfboards, or similar devices while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs is illegal. Click here to read the Louisiana Boater Education Course's guidelines on boating alcohol and drug use.
- Life Vests & Flotation Devices: All vessels in the State of Louisiana must be equipped with U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, or personal flotation devices (PFDs). There are specific regulations specifying the type and quantity of PFDs required, based on vessel length and the number of people on board the vessel or being towed by the vessel.
- Horsepower Restrictions & Speed Limits: Each water body carries its own restrictions on the horsepower a boat may have and the speed limit for all vessels and watercrafts in the water body. You should always check horsepower and speed limit restrictions before any boating excursion.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to boater negligence or recklessness, please contact one of the qualified Louisiana Boat Accident Attorneys listed at the top left of this page.
Some of the many water bodies near New Orleans, LA include:
|Atchafalaya Basin||Bayou Gauche||Mississippi River||The Rigolets||Little Lake||Barataria Bay||Kings Canal|
|Lake Pontchartrain||Lac des Allemands||Lake Maurepas||Grand Lake||Lake Boeuf||Black Bay||Terrebonne Bay|
|Lake Salvador||Lake Lery||Lake Borgne||Bayou Perot||Dufrene Ponds||Lake Fields||Timbalier Bay|
|Lake Cataouatche||Big Mar||Lake Saint Catherine||Bayou Rigolettes||The Pen||Bay Batiste||West Bay|
Additional New Orleans Boating Resources
Boat Incident Reporting
To report a boating incident, click here. You must also send a copy of your boat accident report to:
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Boat Registration & Fishing Licenses
Click here to renew your boat registration and/or fishing license. You may also purchase a fishing license by calling toll-free 1-888-765-2602.
Boat Title & Registration
To access important documents for licensing, registration, and transfers of Louisiana boats and vessels, click here.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries
New Orleans Office
University Research Tech Park
2021 Lakeshore Drive, Suite 204
New Orleans, LA 70122
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Important Louisiana Boating Statutes
Louisiana Revised Statutes - Title 34 - Navigation & Shipping
Title 34 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes contains several sections governing boating, ships, and other watercraft. Some of the broad topics covered in this Title include injury to persons and property, motorboats and vessels, and the Louisiana Personal Water Craft Safety Act. Read sections of Louisiana R.S. 34 about Boating.
If you have been hurt in a boating accident, you need a New Orleans Boating Injury Lawyer!
Serving clients throughout Southeastern Louisiana, including Algiers, Alma, Bridge City, Chalmette, Destrehan, Elmwood, Gretna, Harahan, Harvey, Kenner, Luling, Meraux, Marrero, Metairie, Mt. Airy, New Orleans, River Ridge, South Kenner, Slidell, St. Benedict, St. James, St. Rose, Terrytown, Westwego, and other communities in Orleans Parish.