Arkansas Boat Accident Lawyers

With over 90,000 miles of waterways and more than 600,000 acres of lakes, Arkansas is a great place for boating enthusiasts.

But with this easy access to watersports comes an increased risk for accidents and injuries. If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in a boating accident caused by a negligent operator, the Little Rock personal injury lawyers at the Minton Law Firm are here to help you pursue the financial security you need to cope with medical expenses and other damages.

Please call us today at 501-404-5433 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation or contact us online to get started now.

Types of Boats Commonly Involved in Accidents

There are numerous types of boats allowed on Arkansas lakes and waterways, each of which pose unique risks if improperly operated. According to a U.S. Coast Guard report, the types of vessels most commonly involved in recreational boating accidents include:

Teenager on jet ski. Teen age boy skiing on water scooter. Young man on personal watercraft in tropical sea. Active summer vacation for school child. Sport and ocean activity on beach holiday.
Personal watercraft are often involved in accidents that result in severe injuries.
  • Open motorboats: This broad category of watercraft range in size and style, but most have an unenclosed space for up to six passengers. They’re most often used for cruising, fishing and water skiing.
  • Personal watercraft (PWC): These small, open, pump-jet-powered watercraft can seat one to three people. Trademarked brands include Jet Ski, WaveRunner and Sea-Doo.
  • Cabin motorboats: Also called cabin cruisers, these large motorboats include sleeping accommodations and often hold upward of six passengers.
  • Canoes and kayaks: Motorless, paddle-powered boats that typically hold one to three passengers, though some canoes may seat more.
  • Pontoons: Named for the metal tubes that help the boats float, pontoons are recreational watercraft with large, flat decks.

Like traffic crashes, most boating accidents are the result of operator error. And also like traffic crashes, boating accidents can cause severe—and even deadly—injuries. According to the Coast Guard report, there were about 4,000 recreational boating accidents in 2017, which resulted in nearly 3,000 injuries and more than 600 deaths.

Common Types of Boating Accidents

The Coast Guard report highlights five common categories of boating accidents that are responsible for most injuries and fatalities:

Sunken recreational boat half underwater
Grounding is a common form of boating accident.
  • Collision with another vehicle: This type of crash accounted for more than one-quarter of all recreational boating accidents in 2017, according to the Coast Guard.
  • Collision with a fixed object: This includes collisions with structures that don’t move freely in the water, such as docks and bridge supports.
  • Flooding or swamping: This occurs when a boat fills with water, often due to partial or complete capsizing, or a breach in the boat’s hull.
  • Grounding: Grounding occurs when a vessel strikes rocks, reefs, shoals or land.
  • Falling overboard: Although a passenger falling overboard is the least common of these five accident categories, it accounts for the highest rate of deaths.

In addition to these classifications for boating accidents, there are a number of factors that may contribute to the accidents themselves.

Factors in Arkansas Boating Accidents

In 2018, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) released a list of its 10 most-wanted changes to reduce boating accidents. The list addresses some of the most common factors in recreational boating accidents, which include:

beached boat
Operator inexperience is a common factor in boating accidents.
  • Alcohol/drug use: Alcohol is the leading contributor to fatal boat accidents and was a factor in 19 percent of all boating deaths in 2017.
  • Weather and water conditions: Taking a boat out in poor conditions or being unprepared for adverse conditions puts boat operators and others at risk.
  • Operator inexperience: Those new to boating are more likely to make errors that result in accidents.
  • Equipment failure: Like other types of vehicles, boats require routine maintenance to remain in proper operating condition. Failure to properly maintain a boat can increase the risk for accidents and injuries.
  • Speeding and reckless driving: Going too fast for conditions is another common factor in recreational boating accidents.
  • Distracted driving: According to an Arkansas Democrat Gazette report, nearly one-quarter of Arkansas boating accidents may be attributed to operator inattention and improper lookout.
  • Failure to obey boating regulations: This includes ignoring laws regarding the use of life vests, lights, and occupancy maximums.
  • Overcrowding: Having too many people on a boat adds excess weight that can impair the boat’s balance and performance.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission offers online and in-person boating courses to teach safe boating practices, as well as an official boating handbook that educates boaters about laws and responsibilities.

Legal Help for Arkansas Boat Accident Injury Victims

The Little Rock personal injury attorneys at the Minton Law Firm understand the physical, financial and emotional challenges faced by injury victims and their family members. We also know that initial insurance company settlement offers are rarely enough to cover victims’ damages.

Our attorneys work hard to recover the compensation you need to cope with:

  • Present and future medical costs
  • Lost earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage

If a loved one was killed in a boating accident caused by a negligent operator, our lawyers may be able to help you seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Please call the Minton Law Firm today at 501-404-5433 or contact us online for your free consultation. Our attorneys welcome clients from the greater Little Rock and Benton areas, and we don’t charge for our services unless we win your case.