Boating accidents occur on a daily basis, yet no one seems to be as alarmed for these maritime incidents as they would for accidents involving larger vessels. Just as it is the responsibility of a captain manning a large cruise ship to abide by proper maritime law, it is the responsibility of a boater to operate their vessels safely.
One particular New York County has had enough with boating-related injuries and deaths and is raising the bar when it comes to safety. Since a tragic July 4th accident in Oyster Bay led to the deaths of three young children, legislators in Long Island have been contemplating a way to improve boater safety.
Recently, Suffolk County took a stand to prevent future boating accidents by enacting a legislation that requires all boaters operating a vessel or watercraft on Suffolk waterways to enroll and pass a boating safety course. In addition, the legislation requires that boaters possess and display their safety course certificate on their vessel while manning their boats and must be able to produce it should a law enforcement official ask for it. Any boater that cannot produce a safety course certificate will face a fine of up to $250 for a first time offense and up to a $1,000 fine for subsequent offenses. A third offense can also lead to jail time for the boater.
Although the law has good intentions, it won’t take effect until about a year from now, when it’s been filed with the state. This leaves plenty of time for boating accidents to occur. Essentially, boaters will have until the beginning of 2014 to enroll in the safety course, which will be available through several organizations, the Coast Guard being one of them.
Suffolk County officials hope that the signing of the bill will inspire other counties – and the state – to create their own safety legislation, since the bill only applies to Suffolk County residents and Suffolk County waterways. Any boaters who venture into waters from outside the Suffolk County area are subject to the laws of the next town.
While Suffolk County has been busy at the municipality level, State Senator Charles Fuschillo, Jr., (R, Merrick), has been working on his own legislation similar to the County’s. His bill would call for action at the state level, helping prevent a larger number of boating accidents. The legislation also calls for mandated safety courses and will impose stricter penalties for anyone found boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If passed, this bill would also become effective around the same time as the Suffolk legislation.
Even when boating laws are in effect, however, there are plenty of vessel operators that do not abide by proper safety rules when operating their boats. Boating accidents can be extremely serious. Those who have been injured or lost a loved one are entitled to seek legal help. If you or someone you love was involved in a boating accident, contact one of our Lipcon boat accident lawyers immediately for assistance in filing a claim.
Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. is an admiralty and maritime law firm that has over 80 years of combined experience in helping maritime victims obtain justice for their pain and suffering and other losses. Our maritime attorneys will work diligently to help you obtain compensation for your accident. Call us today to schedule a consultation and protect your rights as a boat accident victim.