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Boating Accidents, Featured 5.02.2024

Practicing Safe Boating in Michigan This Summer

Summer is approaching and that means boating season! The great state of Michigan’s stunning waterways and vast lakes entice even the most novice of boaters. Before you set out on your boats you need to be informed and updated on all the boating rules and regulations. Michigan’s boaters have created a community with a culture of safety and respect for everyone on the water. The Great Lakes are a haven for boaters, and the commitment that everyone has made to following safety standards has become a pillar for Michigan. 

Essential Boating Safety Tips

Starting boating season means that you need to prepare your vessel and your habits with safety in mind. Pre-departure safety checks before you set sail will ensure that everything is functioning in the case of an emergency.

Never Drive a Boat Under the Influence

Boating while under the influence is not just disregarding everyone’s safety, but it’s illegal to operate a boat under the influence of any substance. If you happen to cause any personal injury or kill someone while under the influence it is automatically a felony. 

Required Safety Equipment for Michigan Boaters

Ensuring your safety equipment is present and functioning is your responsibility as the owner. The last thing you want is a boat full of people that you can’t take care of in an emergency. Things that should always be readily available on your boat:

  • Lifejackets
  • Visual distress signals
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Navigation lights

Safe Boating Operation

Michigan has concrete rules and regulations about safety certificates and boating licenses. Boats that have a motor, regardless of length, are required to be registered with the state. Those who were born after July 1, 1996, must have completed a boating safety course, earned the certification of completion, and have the certificate onboard. The laws are clear and it is your responsibility to research your requirements to operate a boat.

Follow Navigation Rules 

While out on the water there are basic “rules of the water” that dictate how you should navigate the water to prevent collisions. These rules are vital to Michigan’s boating safety and cover things like:

  • Passing on the left (port) side
  • Who has the right of way
  • Overtaking and yielding 
  • Crossing in front of other vessels

Maintain a Safe Lookout for Other Vessels

While operating your boat, you should have a second person acting as your lookout. This lookout is someone who has a different viewpoint of the waterway and is acting as a second pair of eyes. Although you may be completely focused, sometimes it is difficult to see everything in the water like swimmers or small watercrafts.

Stay Up-to-Date on Current Weather Conditions 

Weather changes on the water rapidly and can severely endanger everyone. Staying informed of your day’s forecast is crucial, but being prepared in case it changes is what makes an experienced captain. 

Safe Boating for Passengers

Any passengers you have on your boat should be respectful of what you as their captain deem safe. They should be listening to your requests of how to sit, when to wear their life jackets, or anything else you ask of them. If they are noncompliant with your requests, remind them that you are held liable for their injuries, and if they still refuse you need to use your judgment to keep everyone safe on your vessel. 

Always Wear Your Life Jacket

Lifejackets are non-negotiable. All passengers must have a life jacket available to them in the boat, and it must be worn if they are being pulled recreationally. Any child 6 years old and under must remain in their life jacket while onboard. 

Avoid Overcrowding and Weight Limits

One of the most dangerous hazards while onboard is overcrowding and exceeding weight limits. Boats can be overturned, and steering can become treacherous if you exceed capacity or weight. This throws off a boat’s balance and places everyone at unnecessary risk. Avoid a mishap by limiting your passengers. 

Stay Vigilant of Trip Hazards and Slick Surfaces

Boats come with inherent risks of slips and falls. Maintaining your deck so that it is clear of clutter with your gear stowed and organized, will minimize these risks. Ensuring your deck is washed and properly surfaced will also keep your passengers from slipping on board. 

Common Boating Injuries in Michigan

Boating and all the fun that comes with it is a great way to spend time with family and friends throughout the summer, and it can be easy to become distracted. In Michigan's extensive boating community, unfortunately, accidents are fairly common. Things like operator inattention, inexperience, excessive speed, or alcohol lead to many boating accidents. The injuries sustained in boating accidents are limitless due to the complicated nature of being on the water. Whether on a crowded lake or a lonely waterway, it’s important to stay safe on the water. 

Importance of Legal Representation in Boating Accidents

In the case of Michigan law, boat operators and owners are liable for damages if there is an injury or death. An experienced personal injury attorney specializing in boating accidents and marine law will set you up for success. If you have insurance you should always consult with your attorney first that way they can advise you, and they will speak to your adjustor.  

Contact the Joseph Dedvukaj Firm for a Free Consultation

The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm represents people throughout the state of Michigan who have been injured in boating accidents. Regardless of how you were injured, our expert injury lawyers gather all of the necessary evidence to build your case. People who have been injured have three years from the incident to file a lawsuit to recover damages such as medical bills, lost wages, or even pain and suffering. Contact us to start gathering the evidence you need to recover from a boating mishap.

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The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm, P.C represents Michigan clients in a full range of personal injury matters. If you have been injured, contact us for a free consultation.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute a client relationship.
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