Jet Ski, Sea-Doo, WaveRunner, stand-up, and even water scooter are all common terms used to refer to the most popular type of personal watercraft (PWC).
Often praised for the rush of adrenaline and excitement they incite in the riders who drive them, jet skis are also one of the biggest culprits when it comes to water sports accidents. But what causes these accidents and who can be held liable when damages arise? Our experienced legal team examines these incidents in the following article.
When they were first introduced in the '60s, jet skis were luxurious and uncommon water vehicles enjoyed by a select few. However, PWC manufacturers have worked diligently towards making jet skis more affordable as well as safer for riders. Nevertheless, jet skis are involved in almost as many recreational-boating accidents as boats.
It's almost surprising that a majority of water accidents aren't related to jet skis when you analyze the characteristics of the sport. Consider that riders mount a relatively small yet powerful vessel with little safety equipment. They then attempt to maneuver around other (likely larger) vessels at speeds that often exceed 40-50 mph.
It's easy to surmise that the nature of the sport lends it to be inherently dangerous, but there are some specific factors that often arise as causes when jet ski accidents are studied.
A multi-year study performed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on jet ski incidents found that almost 70% of PWC accidents are caused by one of three "I's".
Inexperience. Jet skis are widely available for rental with relatively few barriers to entry. Even the most unskilled rider is able to get on a jet ski if they have the cash. They will likely receive a quick "crash course" on how to operate the vehicle and then be sent on their way. Since most rentals are on a per-hour basis, inexperienced riders feel pressured to get out on the water as soon as possible so that they can get the most for their hard-earned money.
Inattention. There are countless distractions on the water. For passengers on a boat, these can make for interesting and captivating scenery. For jet ski drivers, these can draw their attention from the most important task at hand - operating the watercraft.
Inappropriate speed. Most jet skiers will confess that the most fun part about these vessels is going fast on the water. It's also not very difficult to get up to speed on a jet ski.
Unfortunately, the point of reference that most individuals have is that of driving a car, and there are many differences between driving 40 mph in a car (a slow speed by most standards) vs. going 40 mph on a jet ski in the water. Riders can easily underestimate the speed they're traveling at and suffer an accident.
Inebriation is also a factor in many watercraft accidents. Riders may be unjustifiably inclined to reach for a refreshing alcoholic drink on a hot day out on the water. Regrettably, the effects of alcohol can be exacerbated by dehydration, leading to impairment of judgment much sooner than expected.
For an outsider-looking-in, it can be easy to place the blame on the driver of a jet ski after an accident manifests. However, negligence may often be the true culprit in such incidents.
For instance, if a jet ski rental business does not properly maintain their watercraft and this leads to an accident, they can be held liable. Likewise, if the same business does not ensure that patrons can safely operate the jet ski, they can also be considered responsible for damages.
Lakes, inland waterways, bays, and even the open ocean can produce dangerous conditions for unsuspecting riders. If a jet ski concessionaire fails to inform a patron of hazardous conditions or otherwise allows them to unknowingly place themselves at risk, they could be held responsible for any injury or death that results.
Jet ski accidents don't just occur on rented crafts, though. They can be caused by other vessels or even product defects. Every jet ski accident lawsuit is different from the next, which is why it's so critical to discuss your incident with a legal professional before deciding whether to take legal action or not.
If you or a loved one were involved in a jet ski accident and are unsure whether you have a valid legal claim, get in touch with our law firm today for a free consultation. We're experienced in all manner of water sport accidents, so we can analyze your case and explain any legal avenues for compensation that may be at your disposal.
The case reviews we offer are completely free of cost and obligation, so there's no pressure or price in getting the answers you seek. If you chose to retain or services, we'll fight for you on a contingency basis, which means that if we don't achieve compensation on your behalf, you'll owe us nothing.