Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C.

Boating accidents a significant source of fatalities statewide

Tennessee has had 16 fatalities so far this year in boating accidents. That is why boaters on the Tennessee River are being stopped and checked by sheriff's deputies and state wildlife officers. The state is committed to keeping down the number of boating accidents by enforcing the various well-known safety procedures and regulations that are critical to safety.

According to wildlife officers, perhaps the most important rule to follow is to wear a life preserver. Regulations require that each boater must have a life jacket handy, and a throw-able life preserver must be onboard. In Knoxville during the local Boomsday activities in the downtown, officers worked the river due to what they called heavy congestion.

They check boaters for lights, registrations and safe driving habits. During the Boomsday celebration, they enforced a no-wake rule down to the Henley St. Bridge, which would be the home to the Boomsday finale. Boaters create wakes or waves when they travel at high speeds, and these can be dangerous to other boats.

Whether an injured person can collect damages from a boating accident depends upon traditional negligence principles. If one is a passenger in a boat and there is a collision between two boats, it is often the case that both boats are negligent to some extent. The injured passenger may be entitled to make a claim against the driver of the boat occupied by the passenger, and against the driver of the other boat involved in the accident.  That is similar to the same negligence standards that apply in car accidents.

The only twist is that some persons who own boats don't have insurance. Sometimes, this can be part of a homeowner's policy for those who own homes, or it could be attached as a rider to an auto policy. The best protection, however, for those who regularly go boating in Tennessee with their own vessel is to purchase a separate policy to assure adequate liability coverage for boating accidents.

Source: wbir.com, "Officers worked to keep boaters safe on Boomsday", Michael Crowe, Sept. 6, 2015

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