Teen Boat Operators and Accidents

September 28, 2018 Announcements and Law Updates

Recreational boating is an activity enjoyed by countless people who live near the water. All boat operators must follow local, state, and federal laws regarding the operation or watercraft and safety guidelines. Teenagers may wish to operate a watercraft, but they, too must follow all laws and obtain proper certification.

It is possible for a child or teen to operate a watercraft vehicle in Louisiana. Beginning at 10 years old, a child or teen can operate a boat as long as they are accompanied by an adult aged 18 or over and have completed a boater education course. For more information on teen boater education certification requirements, see the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Safety Tips for Teen Boat Operators

The best way to prevent a boating accident is to be informed of safety guidelines and operate the boat correctly. Teen operators who have been operating boats for a short period of time should follow these tips to develop good safety habits: 

  • Master boat operation.
  • Be aware of general boating safety practices.
  • Perform vessel safety check before launching boat in water.
  • Check weather conditions before venturing out in the water and return to shore when weather conditions change.
  • Follow maximum capacity guidelines and do not overload the boat.
  • Life jackets should be worn at all times.

Drowning is the Leading Cause of Death for Teen Boaters

Each year the U.S. Coast Guard compiles statistics on reported recreational boating accidents. The most recent year in which data is available is 2017. According to the U.S. Coast Guard report, where the cause of death was known, 76% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims 84.5% were not wearing a life jacket.

Some other keys findings from the report are:

  • Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, machinery failure, and alcohol use rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
  • Where data was known, the most common vessel types involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (46%), personal watercraft (18%), and cabin motorboats (16%).
  • Where data was known, the vessel types with the highest percentage of deaths were open motorboats (47%), kayaks (15%), and personal watercraft (7%). 

Louisiana Boating Accident Lawyers will Fight for You

Compensation for personal injuries or property damage is available for individuals injured in a boating accident. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, contact our Louisiana Boating Accident Lawyers at the law firm of Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. The Louisiana Boating Accident Lawyers represent victims of boating accidents and are knowledgeable about the boating accident law. We also represent victims of auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, and nursing home or adult care facilities abuse. Call today to schedule an immediate appointment. We have offices in New Orleans 888-601-0127, Baton Rouge 225-612-0800, or Lafayette 337-409-0003. You can also request an appointment via email at [email protected] or book an online appointment here.