What Are Common Causes of Boating Accidents?

While there are regulations and rules in place to protect the safety of passengers and boat operators, they cannot prevent all accidents from happening. According to the US Coast Guard1, the most common causes of boating accidents include:

Operator inattention puts the boat at risk for a collision. They must be aware of the weather, the water, passengers, and more. Neglecting these factors or not assigning someone the task of lookout can have dangerous consequences.

Every boat should have a lookout who is constantly on the alert. A designated person on the boat should identify hazards or threats that the boat operator misses.

All boat operators should understand the basics of boating, including how to handle emergencies, admiralty law, and navigation rules. Safely operating a water vessel means taking the time to consider all factors involved while out on the water.

When you lose control of a boat, you can cause an accident. A boat can be challenging to control for an inexperienced operator. Without the proper skill and experience, this could lead to a catastrophe. It is crucial for the operator to maintain a safe speed for the safety of everyone on board.


Like driving a car, alcohol use while driving a boat can cause an accident. When you are under the influence, your reaction time is slower, and decision-making isn’t the best. It is dangerous to operate a boat when you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Any failure or defect in the boat’s machinery can cause an accident. Make sure the proper precautions and routine checks have been completed.

Storms can come in quickly, so understanding various risks in specific locations is crucial to a safe boating experience. Different seasons each have their dangers, so make sure you know the weather and what the forecast says.

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What Are the Causes of Most Fatalities in Boating Accidents?

According to the US Coast Guard¹, most boating accidents that resulted in fatalities had these causes:

  • Falling overboard – Falling overboard is the most common cause of boating fatalities. It is most common among anglers.
  • Capsizing – A boat that overturns or capsizes because of a strong wave or a collision is also common in fatalities on water vessels.
  • Collision – A collision with a fixed object or another moving vessel is another common cause of fatalities in boating accidents
  • Departed vessel – When a passenger gets off the boat as in diving or jumping into the water, this is referred to as a “departed vessel”. A sudden change in direction could be fatal for people in the water around the boat.
  • Flooding – Flooding is when a boat is filled with water. This can put the operator and passengers at risk of sinking.

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Boating Safety FAQs

There is nothing more fun than a boating adventure with family or friends. But, make sure you are prepared with essential safety gear. Here are some crucial things to consider before going out on the water.

You cannot always predict an emergency, so it’s best to have a well-stocked boat safety kit on board at all times.

Every safety kit should include:

  • Flashlight – To help you see in the dark
  • Duct tape – To assist in bandaging a hole if you’ve sprung a leak
  • Bucket – To bail out water in the boat
  • First aid kit – Essential in case someone gets hurt
  • Whistle – To call for help in an emergency
  • Ropes – To secure the boat to the dock, tie-down items in severe weather, or pull in someone who fell overboard


Absolutely. As per the law, every passenger on a boat must have a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Remember that life jackets don’t just keep you afloat, they can also help prevent hypothermia when cold water is a factor. Make sure you choose appropriate jackets for each person’s age and height.

Nevada Revised Statute 488.4002 makes it unlawful to operate a water vessel while under the influence of alcohol. These laws are similar to Nevada’s DUI laws in that a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more is illegal. You should never operate a boat while under the influence.

According to Nevada rules and regulations3, anyone born after January 1, 1983, needs to pass a boater safety course and carry their boater education card in order to operate a motorized watercraft. However, there is no minimum age requirement and the course can be completed online.

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Boating Accidents in Nevada

Nevada and Arizona have some beautiful warm weather locations for boating, including Lake Mead near Hoover Dam. A boating accident is never on anyone’s mind when they head out for a day of fun. Being prepared and aware of what essentials to include will help you avoid preventable injuries.

If you or a family member have been injured in a boating accident and are unsure what to do, contact our Las Vegas boating accident lawyers for a free consultation about your case. You might be entitled to compensation. Our team will review the details of the accident, navigate insurance companies, and make sure accident victims receive adequate compensation for their losses. Call us today to see how we can help.


1United States Coast Guard. (12 August 2021). Accident Statistics. Retrieved 2 May 2022.

2NRS 488.400. Retrieved 2 May 2022.

3Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW). Rules & Regulations. Retrieved 2 May 2022.

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Adam S. Kutner

Adam S. Kutner Personal Injury Lawyer

With more than 31 years of experience fighting for victims of personal injury in the Las Vegas valley, Attorney Adam S. Kutner knows his way around the Nevada court system and how to get clients their settlement promptly and trouble-free.

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