Everyone knows the folks in Wisconsin love outdoor sports. From classic team sports like football to water sports like boating, there’s always something fun to do here. However, many sports are dangerous, especially sports that involve personal watercraft accidents like jet skiing.
We hope no one needs a jet ski accident attorney. Accidents not only cause financial damage but often cause injuries and sometimes death. If you find yourself in need of a lawyer, the experienced attorneys at Domnitz Law are here to make sure you receive compensation for any damages caused or injuries sustained.
Common Personal Watercrafts & Accidents
Before we get into the common accidents, let’s list the most common personal watercraft you’ll find in a Wisconsin lake. They’re often referred to by the more attractive brand names like:
- Jet Ski by Kawasaki
- WaveRunner by Yamaha
- Sea-Doo by Bombardier
All of these personal watercrafts function pretty much the same, they are kind of like motorbikes for lakes. The acceleration and steering configurations are simple and intuitive and most people can get the hang of them in a couple of hours.
This does present some liabilities though. They’re easy enough for almost anyone to use. That doesn’t mean, however, that anyone should use them. Although they are smaller than boats, they are more maneuverable and exceptionally fast. This can present some dangers for inexperienced drivers and any passengers they may have onboard. These personal watercrafts can sometimes carry up to four individuals at a time.
Common personal watercraft accidents include:
- Accidents involving other personal watercrafts.
- Collisions with a boat.
- Crashing into rocks, docks, or piers.
- Accidents involving swimmers.
- Collisions with tubers, skiers, wakeboarders.
The Severity of Personal Watercraft Accidents
Personal watercraft accidents can cause serious injuries and even death. This is because, unlike on a boat, you are much less protected. If you get into a boat crash, you may not personally be struck by the other boat. On the other hand, the person operating the personal watercraft is usually directly impacted by the crash.
Furthermore, personal watercraft like Jet Skis and WaveRunners are fast. They can typically reach speeds of over 50 miles an hour with ease. Falling off something going that fast, even into the water, can still result in injuries. Most of these watercrafts don’t have seatbelts. Additionally, almost no one wears a helmet while operating either. Fortunately, everyone aboard a personal watercraft must wear a life jacket at all times, so drowning after a crash is less likely.
In addition, most personal watercrafts like WaveRunners and Sea-Doos have pump-jet engine. These pumps suck up and blow out water at extremely powerful levels. There are several cases where hair, jewelry, or clothing is sucked up into the jet pump, causing injury and even drowning. Furthermore, the water powerfully blown out the back of a Jet Ski can cause severe injuries as well.
Who Is Liable In A Personal Watercraft Accident?
Liability in personal watercraft accidents can be tricky. It always depends on circumstance and details. More often than not, the driver of the jet ski is held responsible for breaking some type of water-safety law. However, the driver of another personal watercraft or boat may have hit you, in which case, they would be responsible for any injuries or damages.
There are some cases where the personal watercraft’s manufacturer is held liable for a defect that caused an accident. Any particular defect in the WaveRunner’s model or design that causes an accident would certainly be the fault of the manufacturer.
Personal watercrafts also occupy a unique place in the law. People frequently rent them from companies for a couple of hours to the whole day. If the rental company provides someone with a broken, dangerous, or defective personal watercraft, the liability falls on them.
Some variables that affect liability in respect to personal watercraft accidents include:
- Was the driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
- Did someone modify the watercraft to make it go faster than it should?
- What are the state and local laws involving personal watercraft and boats?
- Did the accident occur during some kind of race or competition?
Races and competitions can alter liability as well. Most well-run events involving things like Sea-Doos will require any participant to sign some kind of waiver where they accept responsibility for any injuries they sustain while competing. If they don’t, they may also be liable for encouraging the dangerous operation of watercraft.
Wisconsin Boating Accident Protocol
If you are involved in a Wisconsin personal watercraft accident that results in death, injury, or damage over $2000, then you must follow these steps:
- Stop your boat immediately.
- Help anyone who was injured or is in danger.
- Call local law enforcement.
- Submit a written report to the DNR.
- Write down your name, address, and boater’s identification number and give to anyone involved in the accident.
Call a Personal Injury Attorney Today
Have you or a loved one had an injury as a result of a Wisconsin personal watercraft accident, or any other accident for that matter?
Look no further. If you need legal representation, call Domnitz & Domnitz today. We’re an experienced team of personal injury lawyers dedicated to helping you win your case as quickly as possible.
We’ll work with you to get you the coverage and support you need, so you can get back to focusing on your recovery. If you’re in the Milwaukee area, contact us today, and let’s start this journey together.