Reckless Jet Ski Users: What Happens When Someone Gets Hurt?
In May 2022, a man died and a woman was hospitalised after a jet ski accident off lower Manhattan, New York. It was reported that the jet ski flipped while the man was driving at high speeds.
It is one of a number of tragic events that occurs across North America every year. In Canada, a Red Cross report found that there were 68 fatalities involving personal watercraft (PWCs) between 1991 and 2008. Of these, 65 were recreational fatalities, including 31 immersion deaths and 34 trauma deaths. There were many more non-fatal injuries.
Why are there so many PWC accidents?
So why are there so many accidents involving personal watercraft such as jet skis and sea-doos? It’s a complicated answer.
Riders typically have very little protection, despite being able to travel at speeds of more than 100kph. Hitting the water that fast can be like hitting concrete. The steering itself is counter-intuitive, as you need to accelerate to turn. This has been the cause of many collisions, as operators instinctively slow down when approaching something in their path. Then there’s the operators themselves. Very little (if any) training is required to drive a jet ski. This means inexperienced operators are handling powerful PWCs, often without any personal protection.
Reckless use of personal watercraft
While not the case in every single PWC accident, there are plenty of examples in which the operator was acting recklessly.
The same Red Cross report found that alcohol was present or suspected for 51% of PWC victims 15 years of age and older. This figure could be higher, as alcohol was unknown in 7% of cases. Also, 58% were inexperienced operators. Speeding, racing, driving in swimming zones, driving too closely to other watercraft and ‘jumping’ over wakes have all been factors in previous PWC accidents. Failing to maintain a PWC could also be deemed reckless, especially if the owner was aware of a defect but allowed the watercraft to be used anyway.
Injuries from reckless use of a jet ski or PWC
Collisions and falling into the water are the most common causes of PWC fatalities. Those involved in such accidents typically suffer head injuries, spinal injuries and major lacerations.
Fatalities and life-changing injuries are, of course, a tragedy for all concerned. But what if they could have been avoided? What if the reckless use of a jet ski was the cause of your injuries, or your loved one’s death? This will be even harder to bear. If only the operator had not made such a poor decision, the accident would never have happened and you would not be facing this awful situation.
Making a claim against the operator
Where a death or injury happens due to a reckless jet ski user (or PWC user), the victim or their bereaved loved ones are entitled to pursue legal action.
We understand that a civil lawsuit might be the last thing on your mind right now. But in time, you might decide that you want to take action. People often say that it gives them a sense of closure. Making a claim also has huge practical benefits. It allows you to recover compensation for your financial losses. These may be significant if you cannot work, or you relied on your loved one’s income.
Talk to us about a reckless jet ski accident
Sadly, recklessness is a frequent factor in jet ski accidents, sea-doo accidents and other types of PWC accidents. This means that someone – probably the operator of the watercraft – was responsible for the incident. If you have been involved in a similar accident, or your loved one has, please contact our Vancouver personal injury lawyers. We can discuss your legal options with you, ensuring you get all the help and entitlements you deserve.
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