Everyone has a favorite summer pastime, whether it be boating, biking, or something else. While these activities are fun, they often require more preparation and experience to perform safely compared to other activities.
Below, we discuss common safety issues surrounding boating, biking, and motorcycling, and what you can do to protect after an accident involving one of these activities.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported 4,291 boating incidents that resulted in 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries, and about $46 million in property damage in 2017. Luckily, there are several measures you can take to keep from being another statistic.
The essential elements of boating safety include:
- Wear a life jacket. Everyone, from children to adults, and even those who consider themselves strong swimmers, should wear a life jacket when on the water. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that 76% of the boating deaths in 2017 were due to drowning, and 84% of those drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. The truth is that you never know what will happen, and getting tossed overboard can be deadly even for an experienced swimmer, particularly if the water has a strong current or the weather suddenly turns bad.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. Every boating trip, whether it is a simple tour around a lagoon or a sea excursion, should have a pre-departure checklist. This checklist should involve checking the boat’s equipment to see if it is in working order, ensuring there are enough life jackets on board for all passengers, leaving a route plan with a friend or family member on land, and bringing vital survival equipment such as water and flares.
- Operate wisely. Boaters on the water should be as vigilant as motorists on the road. This involves driving slowly around other vessels, making proper use of horn signals, and ensuring that all passengers are seated while the vessel is in motion. Additionally, those operating a boat should never be under the influence. Doing so is not only extremely dangerous, but also illegal.
Even if you take all of these safety precautions, boating accidents could still occur. If you get involved in a boating accident, it’s wise to take the following measures:
- Check to see if anyone is injured. If someone is injured, contact the authorities.
- Move to a dock or dry land, if possible. If the boat is not too badly damaged, try to make your way over to the shore so everyone can exit the boat safely. Otherwise, wait for the authorities to arrive.
- File an accident report. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the boat operator must file an accident report then the incident results in significant personal injury or property damage. Most of the time, the report must be filed within 48 hours if the accident resulted in injuries or death, and within 10 days if the accident resulted in property damage only.
Some jurisdictions require boating insurance, while others don’t. This is why it’s smart to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you sort through the details and work to recover the compensation to which you are entitled.
Another popular pastime, once the weather warms up, is biking. This could involve commuting to work via city streets or taking a mountain bike up to a park trail on the weekend. In either case, every bicyclist can enhance their safety by following these guidelines:
- Check your equipment. Every safe bike ride begins and ends with functioning equipment. Make sure to give your bike a thorough inspection every now and then, and do a quick once-over right before a ride. Most importantly, check the bike’s tires, chain, brakes, and lights.
- Make yourself visible. Many bike accidents happen when motorists do not see bikers and strike them on the road. Do everything you can to enhance your visibility, such as wearing fluorescent clothing, installing flashing lights on your bike, and using a horn or bell when needed.
- Wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet is the number one thing bikers must do to protect their safety. A helmet should be worn on every bike ride, from a simple ride down the block to the grocery store to a long mountain bike route. Helmets can greatly reduce the risk of serious injury or death in the event of a crash.
Many bike accidents happen when a vehicle strikes a biker. If you or someone you love gets involved in a bike crash, taking these steps can help protect your rights:
- Contact emergency medical services. Most bicycle accidents result in injuries. If you are able, contact emergency medical services. You will also need to contact the police to get your version of events into the police report.
- Obtain the driver’s information. Make sure to collect their contact, insurance, and vehicle information.
- Talk to witnesses. Try to get statements from witnesses at the scene who observed the crash.
- Take photos. Capture images of your injuries and property damage, as well as any tire treads on the road that could indicate the path of the vehicle.
Motorcycles often get dusted off and rolled out of garages once spring has sprung. Motorcyclists should take care to protect themselves while riding, particularly at the beginning of the season when the bike hasn’t been used in several months. Safety guidelines for motorcyclists include:
- Choose the right helmet. Like bicycling, the best way to protect yourself as a motorcyclist is to choose the right helmet. When selecting a helmet, look for the Department of Transportation sticker that guarantees the helmet meets safety standards required by law. The right helmet can be 37% more effective in preventing fatal injuries.
- Stick to one lane. California is the only state that has made lane splitting legal. Stay in one lane to prevent blind spot visibility issues and reduce the risk of a crash.
- Bright is right. Like bicyclists, motorcyclists should do everything they can to enhance their visibility. This includes wearing bright clothing and using headlights day and night.
Despite taking these measures, motorcycle accidents can still happen. Most motorcycle accidents occur when a driver does not see a biker in their mirror when changing lanes. If you get involved in a motorcycle accident, taking these steps can protect your right to compensation:
- Don’t admit fault. Most people assume that all motorcycle accidents are the fault of the biker. However, this is rarely the case. Stay firm and know that, as a biker, you have rights too.
- Stick around for the police. Wait at the scene until the police arrive so you can put your side of the story into the accident report.
- Take photos. It’s vital to take photos of the scene, any injuries you sustained, and any property damage that occurred. Gathering as much evidence as possible can make it easier for your claim to get approved.
Summer comes with a lot of fun activities, but also a lot of risks. If you or someone you love gets injured in an accident this summer, our personal injury attorneys are here to help. It is in your best interest to work with a qualified attorney on cases like these, because there are often ins and outs of the law that only someone with seasoned legal experience can see and navigate.