In the summer, Pennsylvania can be a boaters paradise with its many lakes, rivers and waterways. However, this paradise can quickly turn into a nightmare when safety rules aren’t followed and someone is seriously hurt or killed in a boat accident.
The shocking impact of a boating accidents can be lifelong – or life-ending. If a boat accident was caused by the negligent or reckless behavior of another it can be all the more heartbreaking.
Boating accident lawyer, Brent Wieand, believes that irresponsible boaters should be held responsible for their actions on the water. He knows the heartache and devastation a serious accident can cause. That’s why he fights so hard for you. In the event of boat accident, Brent will work closely with top notch experts to help build a strong case to get justice and compensation for your injuries or the wrongful death of a loved one. For a free legal consultation call Brent Wieand at 1 (215) 666-7777.
Common Causes of Boating Accidents
Boat operator irresponsibility is a major contributing factor in many boating accident injury cases. Some common behaviors that lead to Pennsylvania boating accident include:
- Boating under the influence of alcohol and drug
- Being inattentive or careless
- Operating a vessel at an excessive speed
- Inexperienced boat operators
- Failure to keep a careful lookout for other boats, people or objects.
In Pennsylvania, boat operators have defined responsibilities which included taking precaution required by the ordinary practice of seamen. Significantly, a boat operators is responsible for the actions of all persons on board their boat.
What are the Responsibilities of Pennsylvania Boat Operators?
Boat operators must know the rules and regulations in the area where they are boating, as well as know the waters where they are boating. All watercraft must be equipped with the required safety equipment.
Under Pennsylvania law, it is illegal to operate a vessel in a reckless, negligent or dangerous manner. This includes actions such as operating a motorboat with someone sitting, riding or hanging on a swim ladder or platform or traveling within 100 feet of anyone towed behind another vessel. Although it should be self evident, it is illegal for a boat operator should not travel at a rate of speed that will endanger another’s life or property. Boat operators are not permitted to weave through congested waterways. Only under special circumstances may an operator may depart from the rules to avoid immediate danger.
In addition, Pennsylvania has set minimum age requirements for the operation of a boat. Children under 12 may not operate a boat and young boat operators, age 12 – 15, may not operate a boat if there are other passengers on board 15 years of age or younger. In Pennsylvania, you must be at least 16 years of age to rent a personal watercraft.
In addition, Pennsylvania boaters may be required to attend a mandatory boating education course and obtain a safety certificate before operating a personal watercraft. Continued safety education courses are important and recommended even for experienced boaters.
A complete list of boat operation requirements can be found on the Pennsylvana Fish & Boat Commision’s website.
Do I Need to Wear a Life Jacket?
Life jackets and personal flotation devices are important safety equipment on a boat and your best defense against drowning. Although adults are not required to wear a life jacket at all times, there must be a wearable life jacket in the boat for each person. Everyone must wear a life jacket when being towed behind a boat for activities such as waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing or kneeboarding. In addition, children who are 12 years or younger must wear a life jacket when a boat is being operated.
Before boating make sure that your life jacket fits properly. Life jackets that are too large can ride up or come off in the water.
Can I Operate a Boat at Nighttime in Pennsylvania?
Yes. However there are specific requirements for nighttime operation of a watercraft. The navigation lights required for boats are determined by the boat’s length and whether it is powered by machinery, sail, paddles or oars. To see what specific requirements are applicable to your vessel check out Chapter 2 of the Pennsylvania Boating Handbook.
About the Author: Brent Wieand is a civil trial attorney in Philadelphia that is proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He has dedicated his practice to representing personal injury victims and regularly handles cases involving car accidents, premises liability, nursing home abuse and neglect and defective products. For a free injury case consultation call Brent at 1 (215) 666-7777.
*Disclosure: This webpage does not offer legal advise and laws are subject to change and may not be current.