There are many maritime regulations in place across the United States that aim to improve safety for boaters. However, just because there are maritime laws in place, doesn’t mean they are always abided. In our last blog, we discussed the importance of waterway markers and how they serve a purpose in protecting boaters from harm. But although these markers can assist in navigation and help prevent accidents in open waters, they can also create a danger for watercraft users and passengers.
Because of this, there is a chance that a fatal North Carolina boating accident could have been caused by inappropriately installed or improperly maintained markers. Let’s take a look at how these aids to navigation can create a perilous situation for boaters.
How Waterway Markers Can Pose a Threat to Boaters
Although waterway markers serve a purpose of safety, there are times when the markers themselves create hazardous conditions for boaters. Some markers are not equipped with signal lights, leading boaters who are unfamiliar with the water zone to miss the markers at night, or even crash into them – especially if tides are low. Other times, the warnings displayed on the markers are not easily readable, either because the text is not large enough or because it is non-reflective.
There are also times when the marker that is installed is of improper height or is an incorrect marker in and of itself. For example, a shallow-draft 14-inch diameter buoy is usually recommended over the standard 9 or 12-inch buoy because it provides greater visibility and reduces the surface area exposed below the water. Buoys can also reduce the severity of a boat-water marker collision, as they are not permanently affixed.
Markers on a piling can create threats for boaters as well. Markers may be placed too close together, and may not allow incoming vessels to pass safety through. Boaters cutting across the area may cut too short and crash into the pilings, resulting in serious and even fatal injuries. Other times, pilings are old and worn out, and although required to by maritime law, authorities may fail to replace them, causing them to break and obstruct waterways.
The Importance of Contacting a Boating Accident Attorney
Aside from markers, there are also times when authorities fail to remove debris from prior accidents, bridge dismantlings and other maritime operations, creating treacherous conditions for unsuspecting boaters in the area. No matter what state you live in, maritime authorities are responsible for maintaining waterways safe, and this includes sweeping areas to remove debris and other materials from the waters.
This particular boating accident could have been caused by numerous factors, but as of now, we cannot discard the possibility that the marker may have been to blame. We also cannot discard the possibility that the area may have been riddled with debris and other materials that may have caused the vessel’s operator to lose control.
Regardless of whether the cause an accident is cleared up or not, surviving victims and loved ones of the deceased should always contact a boating accident attorney to discuss their rights as quickly after the accident occurs as possible. An experienced lawyer can let you know whether you have a viable case after reviewing the circumstances surrounding the incident, and if so, can help you file a claim.
One thing to keep in mind is that the vast majority of accidents involving boats and personal watercrafts are the result of negligence either on the operator’s part, another boater, the watercraft manufacturer or even maritime safety authorities. You might be able to recover compensation for injuries or the loss of a loved one that you may not have been aware of, which is why it’s always best to speak with a lawyer, even in minor accidents, so long as you have suffered any loses or damages.