Articles Posted in Boating Accidents

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Tennessee provides several picturesque boating opportunities throughout the state. The state’s numerous lakes, rivers, and temperate weather make boating a popular leisure activity for residents and visitors. In addition to leisure boating, over 50 million tons of products are transported on the state’s waterways every year. Naturally, the crowded waterways lead to more Tennessee boating and watercraft accidents.

While Tennessee law imputes liability on vessel owners for damages that their vessel causes, regardless of whether the owner is present, an exception exists when the vessel is used without the owner’s permission or consent. Moreover, the law requires vessels within 300 feet of commercial boat docks to reduce their speed, even when an area is unmarked. Although these laws are essential to reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries, the most critical laws involve boating under the influence.

Despite the widespread knowledge of the dangers of boating or driving under the influence, people continue to engage in this harmful behavior. Tennessee prohibits individuals from operating a powered or sailing vessel under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Those who fail to abide by these crucial laws may cause significant injuries and property damages. Further, boating under the influence can result in civil and criminal penalties. In addition to collisions, boating injuries may stem from onboard carbon monoxide poisoning, electrical accidents, and equipment defects.

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Summer has officially come to an end and fall is now upon us. While the summer boating season is coming to a close, two very recent drownings from boating accidents in East Tennessee highlight the need to continue following safe boating practices.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, an Ohio man drowned at Cove Lake State Park in late September. The victim and another man had been enjoying a day of fishing on a rented boat. The victim quickly stood up in the boat, causing it to capsize; the victim fell overboard and drowned. The other man in the boat was able to swim to safety.

Additionally on September 13, The Daily Times reported that a Maryville man also fell overboard while boating near Tellico Dam. The victim in this accident was standing near the bow of the boat when he fell overboard. A cable near the bow had been reported as loose, which may have been the cause of the accident. The boat was empty and ran aground on some rocks until a witness on the shoreline shut off the engine.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (“TWRA”) is investigating both drownings. There is no indication whether either of the drowning victims were wearing approved flotation devices.
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Boating season is in full swing. And while it’s time for some fun, it’s also a time for some important safety reminders. In recent weeks, several high-profile Tennessee boating accidents — one in Norris Lake and another in Cumberland River — have authorities preaching safety.

According to WBIR, a man from Andersonville was recently charged with boating under the influence (BUI) following an overnight boating accident. This one happened on Norris Lake in Union County. Near midnight, a runabout slammed right into the back-end of a pontoon boat. There were 11 people on these two boats. Two passengers on the pontoon were taken to Tennova-North Knoxville Medical Center and two passengers of the runabout were thrown into the water. Accident reports indicate that the runabouters were not wearing life jackets. While officials with the TWRA are still investigating, the captain of the runabout has been charged with BUI.

Our Tennessee boating accident attorneys understand that there was also a fatal accident that claimed the life of a woman from Clarksville. According to KnoxNews, the woman was tubing one evening when somehow she got caught in the boat’s propeller. Officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency report that the woman was dead when they arrived. An additional boater was also injured in this accident. Officials are still looking into whether alcohol was a factor in the incident.

According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, there were close to 260,000 registered vessels in the state of Tennessee in 2011. That’s about 2,000 more than the previous year. With that being said, we also saw an increase in the number of reported boating accidents, from 162 in 2011 to more than 170 in 2012. Of all of the bodies of water in the state, Norris Lake and Chickamauga Lake were rated the most dangerous during the year, with close to 20 reported accidents each. Overall, Polk County was the county with the most reported boating accidents. The costs of boating accidents in Tennessee in 2013 totaled $2.3 million, also an increase from previous years.

When breaking down these kinds of accidents, it’s clear that a “collision with another vessel” was the most common type of accident reported, followed by fire. The most common operation during an accident was “cruising.”

According to the 2012 reports, there was an decrease in the number of accidents involving alcohol and/or drugs — from roughly 5 percent to less than 3 percent.

But we’re not off the hook.

There were still close to 20 boating fatalities in 2012. In addition to these fatalities, there were nearly 100 injury boating accidents reported, totaling more than 105 injuries. While we’ve seen a decrease in the number of deaths, by one fatality, from the year before, it’s time to hone in on safe boating habits through the remainder of boating season.
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