Maryland Boating Accident Lawyer

With 7,719 miles of shoreline, Maryland offers fantastic boating opportunities for beginners and experts alike. Drawn by the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River, Ocean City, and other scenic areas, thousands of boating fans flock to Maryland’s waters every summer.

Unfortunately, serious accidents can occur when boat safety is overlooked. For example, inexperienced, unlicensed, or intoxicated boaters can cause deadly collisions with objects or other ships. Boating injuries or fatalities can also be caused by fires, carbon monoxide leaks, falls overboard, or slip-and-fall accidents on the ship deck.

If you or one of your family members was injured in a boating accident in Maryland, or if you lost a loved one in a fatal boating accident, Rice, Murtha & Psoras can help you understand your legal options. In addition, the attorneys can pursue a claim for injuries or death on the water.

If your injuries were caused by negligence, you might have a lawsuit against the boat operator or other parties, such as a company that manufactured faulty boat parts. Review your claim confidentially in a free legal consultation with the Maryland boating injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras. Call (410) 694-7291, or contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras online.

Boating Injury + Fatality Statistics

According to a report released by the U.S. Coast Guard, there were a total of 4,145 boating accidents nationwide in 2018. Together, these accidents were responsible for over 630 deaths and more than 2,500 injuries, in addition to tens of millions of dollars in property damage.

More than 100 U.S. boat accidents took place in Maryland’s waters, where 122 crashes were reported in 2018. Tragically, more than a dozen of these accidents were fatal, resulting in a total of 16 deaths.

While any boating accident is tragic, there has been a slight drop in the number of boating accidents on Maryland’s waters. According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the reported boating accidents, injuries while boating, and fatal accidents involving a boat from 2014 through 2021 were:

  • 2014 – 140 boating accidents, 82 boating accidents that resulted in an injury, and 10 boating-related deaths;
  • 2015 – 146 boating accidents, 84 boating accidents that resulted in an injury, and 20 boating-related deaths;
  • 2016 – 163 boating accidents, 113 boating accidents that resulted in an injury, and 12 boating-related deaths;
  • 2017 – 164 boating accidents, 93 boating accidents that resulted in an injury, and 9 boating-related deaths;
  • 2018 – 132 boating accidents, 58 boating accidents that resulted in an injury, and 14 boating-related deaths;
  • 2019 – 142 boating accidents, 65 boating accidents that resulted in an injury, and 13 boating-related deaths;
  • 2020 – 155 boating accidents, 76 boating accidents that resulted in an injury, and 7 boating-related deaths;
  • 2021 – 145 boating accidents, 51 boating accidents that resulted in an injury, and 6 boating-related deaths;
  • 2022 – 132 boating accidents, 48 boating accidents that resulted in an injury, and 11 boating-related deaths.

Boating Accidents By Time of Day in Maryland

Boating accidents can happen any time of day or night. That’s why it is so important to keep vigilant when on the water. When it is dark, it can be hard to see other boats and stationary objects on the water. That is why radar, night vision and LED light bars are useful to boaters when navigating at nighttime. And during a busy day, other boats can present challenges with traffic and having to avoid a collision.

According to the Maryland DNR, in 2021, boating accidents occurred during the following times of the day:

  • 12:00 am – 1:59 am – 4 boating accidents;
  • 2:00 am – 3:59 am – 1 boating accident;
  • 6:00 am – 7:59 am – 4 boating accidents;
  • 8:00 am – 9:59 am – 11 boating accidents;
  • 10:00 am – 11:59 am – 8 boating accidents;
  • 12:00 pm – 1:59 pm – 19 boating accidents;
  • 2:00 pm – 3:59 pm – 30 boating accidents;
  • 4:00 pm – 5:59 pm – 35 boating accidents;
  • 6:00 pm – 7:59 pm – 21 boating accidents;
  • 8:00 pm – 9:59 pm – 8 boating accidents;
  • 10:00 pm – 11:59 pm – 4 boating accidents.

Common Types of Boat Accidents in Maryland

The Coast Guard’s 2018 accident statistics also revealed some of the leading causes of boat injuries in Maryland. Types of boating accidents included:

  • Collisions with recreational boats (24 reports)
  • Waterskiing accidents (21)
  • Drowning (15)
  • Fires and explosions, including those involving and not involving fuel (14)
  • Collisions with fixed objects (13)
  • Falling overboard (11)
  • Falling while onboard (10)

Collectively, these and other types of boat accidents in Maryland led to a total of 85 injuries and 16 fatalities in 2018. the report also highlighted alcohol use as a significant “contributing factor” in Maryland boat crashes, playing a role in 10 accidents, five deaths, and five injuries in 2018.

Commons Causes of Boating Accidents in Maryland

According to the Maryland DNR, there are five common causes of boating accidents in Maryland, that includes:

  1. Wake – this happens when one boat crosses or passes through the wave wake of another boat or wave created by nature.
  2. Speed – driving a boat too fast reduces the ability to control the vessel and can result in serious accidents and injuries on the water.
  3. No looking out properly – watching for other boaters or objects in the water can present danger of collision, which can result in boaters and their passengers being thrown from the boat.
  4. Alcohol – drinking and boating are serious, and law enforcement in Maryland is always on the lookout for drunk boaters. Alcohol can impair reflexes and reduce response times for boaters.
  5. Other factors – other factors can include distracted boating equipment malfunctions, weather that impairs visibility and thus leads to a crash, and overloaded boats that can allow the vessel to take on water.

While these are not all of the factors that can cause a boating crash, it is important to be aware of your surroundings while boating, take your time, and don’t rush decisions on the water.

Types of Boat Injury Claims Our Maryland Attorneys Handle

Thanks to the Coast Guard’s detailed data, it is possible to see exactly which types of injuries are most likely to result from a boat crash. According to the 2018 report, these were the injuries and medical conditions most commonly reported from boat accidents that year:

  • Lacerations or cuts (571 reports)
  • Broken bones (463)
  • Bruises and scrapes (333)
  • Concussions, which are a form of traumatic brain injury or TBI (243)
  • Combined “other” and “unknown” injuries (244)
  • Hypothermia (191)
  • Sprains and strains are common soft tissue injuries (126)
  • Internal injuries to organs (123)
  • Burn injuries (83)
  • Dislocated joints and related injuries (52)
  • Spinal cord injury or SCI, which can cause paralysis (40)
  • Amputation injuries, like the loss of an arm (25)
  • Shock (9)
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning (8)

Though listed as a potential cause of injury, zero injuries were attributed to electric shocks.

Maryland Boating Laws + Requirements

State laws require anyone “born on or after July 1, 1972” to “carry a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators-approved certificate of boating safety education” while boating anywhere on state waters, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Maryland law also requires all children under the age of four to wear a life vest, which must generally “include an inflatable headrest, web handle, and crotch strap” as part of the design. Children who are age 12 or younger are also required to wear life jackets when riding any type of recreational boat that is less than 21 feet long.

Who is Liable for a Boat Collision in Maryland?

Just as drivers are expected to operate their vehicles safely on land, boaters are expected to operate their vessels safely in the water. If a boat operator was drunk, was under the influence of drugs, was distracted by an app or text message, was operating without a license, exceeded the speed limits, made navigational errors, or made dangerous, reckless maneuvers of any kind, he or she may be held liable for resulting injuries, deaths, and/or property damage. Put simply; boaters are responsible for accidents caused by their negligence or carelessness.

Unfortunately, determining fault and liability is rarely as simple as it seems. Complex factors like boat dynamics, distance, and speed must be calculated to rewind the accident and reveal what happened. Depending on what sorts of vessels were involved, federal maritime laws may also come into play.

It’s important to work with a knowledgeable and experienced boat accident attorney, like the lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras Injury Lawyers, to ensure that your rights are protected.

First Things to Do After a Boating Accident

If you are involved in a boating accident, follow these steps to ensure you comply with Maryland Law, that you get the help you need, and to ensure a successful claim for any injuries.

  1. If anyone is injured, call for medical assistance as soon as possible. The U.S. Coastguard monitors Channel 16 and will often ask boaters to switch to Channel 22 for ongoing communications regarding the accident. You can also contact the Maryland DNR by calling (410) 260-8888 on your cell phone.
  2. Have everyone on the boat put on a life jacket. All boats must have one life vest per person and any vessel 16 feet and longer must carry a throwable life jacket. If the boat is disabled and in danger of sinking, deploy the life raft as soon as possible.
  3. In the event that the boat is taking on water and a life raft is deployed, ascertain the location of a portable communication device like a handle-held VHF radio or a cell phone that is capable of making calls. If you are not in the range of a cell tower, the VHF radio will be your only connection to help.
  4. If the boat is in danger of sinking, deploy your EPIRD. The EPIRB will give your coordinates to the U.S. Coast Goard and help them find your boat.
  5. If the boat is stable and floating, continue calling for medical help from the U.S. Coast Guard or the Department of Natural Resources.
  6. If you have a medical bag or first aid kit, see if any of the tools or products in the bag or kit can be helpful in treating the injuries.
  7. If you are able, start to document the scene with photographs. You can use your mobile phone to take pictures of the damage to the boat(s) and the scene where the accident occurred.
  8. Write down the boat registration numbers for all vessels involved in the accident and collect the information of the operator(s) of other boats as well as their contact information, insurance information, and any witnesses’ names and contact information.
  9. If the accident caused a death or disappearance of a person or if any person on board your boat received medical care, you have 48 hours to report the accident to the Department of Natural Resources at (800) 628-9944.

Maryland Boating Accident Attorney for Sailing + Waterskiing Injuries

If you suffered any injury in a boat crash, such as a bone fracture, head injury, or back injury, Rice, Murtha & Psoras can provide the guidance and help you need. With over 120 years of experience representing the victims of negligence in Maryland, boat injury lawyer Randolph Rice and his team are seasoned and effective advocates for justice.

If your injuries were caused by somebody else’s careless actions, their lawyers will fight to uncover the truth and obtain the compensation you deserve. For a free legal consultation, contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras online, or call 24/7 at (410) 694-7291.