These boating accident facts and statistics highlight how common these accidents are and how often they result in injuries and deaths.

While boating, jet skiing and other water activities are fun ways to spend time outdoors, especially in warmer months, such watercraft are not always safe, and in some cases, the negligence of operators or others can cause serious accidents and injuries. In fact, just like car and truck accidents, boating accidents can be caused by reckless operators, equipment malfunctions or other factors that, in the worst cases, can result in fatalities. 

Here we’ll take a closer look at boating accident facts and statistics. These statistics have been primarily compiled by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and:

  • Pertain to 2012 (the most recent year for which statistics are available)
  • Are focused on recreational watercraft accidents (rather than accidents that involve military or industrial watercraft)
  • Include all reported incidents within the U.S., the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

General Boating Accident Statistics: An Overview of Boating Accident Injuries and Deaths

According to the USCG, in 2012:

  • There were 4,515 boating accidents that caused 3,000 reported injuries and 651 deaths.
  • This reflected a nearly 2 percent decrease in the number of boating accidents that occurred in 2011; it also represented a decrease in both the reported injuries and deaths (with fatalities decreasing by more than 14 percent and injuries decreasing by nearly 3 percent since 2011).
  • These boating accidents resulted in about $38 million in property damage.
  • More than 70 percent of the fatal boating injuries were reported to be drowning deaths. Of these, about 85 percent of the people were reported to not be wearing life jackets at the time of the fatal accident.
  • About 70 percent of the people who drowned in boating accidents were reportedly in water that was less than 21 feet deep.
  • The types of watercraft that were most commonly involved in boating accidents included:
    • Motorboats, which were involved in about 47 percent of these incidents
    • Personal watercraft (like, for example, jet skis), which were involved in approximately 19 percent of these incidents
    • Cabin motorboats, which were involved in about 15 percent of these incidents.
  • The top five most common types of boating accidents that reportedly occurred in the U.S. in 2012 were (in order ofThe three of the top four causes of boating accidents in the U.S. in 2012 involved some type of operator negligence, according to the USCG. more to less common):
    • Accidents that involved collisions between recreational watercraft – These accounted for more than 22 percent of all boating accidents.
    • Watercraft flooding or swamping incidents – These made up more than 11 percent of all recreational watercraft incidents.
    • Accidents that involved collisions between watercraft and fixed objects (like, for instance, piers or docks) – These accounted for about 10.5 percent of all boating accidents.
    • Grounding accidents – These made up about 9.3 percent of all recreational watercraft incidents.
    • Skier accidents – These accounted for about 8.6 percent of all boating accidents.
  • The top 4 causes of or contributing factors to boating accidents were reported as follows (in order or more to less common):
    • Operator inattention, which played a role in nearly 13 percent of these accidents
    • Operator inexperience, which was a factor in more than 9 percent of these accidents
    • Equipment failure, which played a role in about 8 percent of these incidents
    • Speeding, which was a factor in nearly 7 percent of these accidents

Operator intoxication was also a major factor in many boating accidents, as this was reportedly responsible for causing more than 6.2 percent of all of these incidents (making it the 7th leading cause of boating accidents in the U.S. in 2012).

Tragically, these all-too-common boating accident causes point to preventable errors that involved the negligence of either the operator of the watercraft or the equipment manufacturer. In such cases, accident victims will typically be entitled to compensation for their injuries and losses.


How the Boulder Boating Accident Lawyers at Cederberg Law Can Help You

If you or a loved one has been injured in any type of boating or watercraft accident that may have been caused by negligence, contact the Boulder boating accident lawyers at Cederberg Law.

We offer free consultations to accident victims, and our lawyers make house calls and hospital visits to ensure that injured people get the legal help they need – wherever and whenever they need it. To set up a meeting with one of our trusted attorneys, call us at 303-499-0449 or email us using the form at the right-hand side of the screen.