With the heat of summer upon us, many Massachusetts residents are taking to the water. With beaches either overly crowded making social distancing difficult, or closed due to Coronavirus concerns, boating is a great way to get outside while keeping a safe distance between your family and others. With 1,500 miles of coastline, in addition to lakes, ponds, and rivers, Massachusetts is ideally situated for boating. As with any recreational activity, when boating, safety should be a top priority. 

Last year, the U.S. Coast Guard counted more than 4,000 recreational boating accidents in the United States. More than half of those incidents – a total of 2,559 – resulted in personal injuries and 613 resulted in death. Those numbers correlate to a statistic of 5.2 deaths for every 100,000 recreational vehicles on the water. 

While boating activities continue, even in Massachusetts, during winter months, the vast majority of recreational water activity happens in summer. With more boats in the water, it is of the utmost importance to follow boating safety rules and regulations this time of year. Once it reopens, every boat operator should strongly consider taking The Boat Massachusetts Safety Course, a free 10-12 hour course on boating safety for operators of all ages, which provides instruction on fundamental boating rules and safety. The course is required for operators age 12-15, who must have a safety certificate to operate a motorboat without adult supervision. . 

Life jackets are a must. Under Massachusetts law, any person under the age of 12 is required to wear a life jacket while boating. Owners and operators of boats are responsible for ensuring that life jackets are available on board, and used appropriately. In boating fatalities involving drowning, as reported by the Coast Guard, 86% of victims were not wearing life jackets at the time of the accident.  

Many claims arising out of boating accidents involve discrete legal issues and are often governed by a special body of law applicable to maritime disputes, known as the law of Admiralty.  SUGARMAN’s experienced team of Boston personal injury lawyers has decades of experience handling claims involving boating accidents and maritime law. If you or a loved one has been injured while boating, speak to a SUGARMAN principal today by calling us at (617) 542-1000, or send us an email at info@sugarman.com