A jet ski accident is not just dangerous for the injuries it can cause on impact, it can also knock people unconscious or physically disabled, which may lead to drowning. The risk is even higher when accounting for how fast personal watercraft (PWC) can travel. Topping out at about 60 mph, PWCs are usually the fastest vehicles on the water, and with their unmatched agility, PWC operators bear the most responsibility for avoiding crashes. However, comparative negligence may still be relevant when a PWC is involved in a crash, especially if the crash is caused by another boat’s wake or careless navigation.
How is fault determined in the aftermath of a jet ski accident?
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), 90 percent of PWC crashes are caused by operator error. That’s not a surprise, as PWC operators have the greatest control over their position on the water. Sailboats and even motorboats designed for fishing can’t compete with the speed and maneuverability of a PWC. If the PWC operator rams into another vessel, it is usually due to a mistake on the PWC operator’s fault. However, if another vessel makes a sudden turn or is exceeding area speed limits, they may also share fault.
If the PWC collides with an inanimate object, even if it is submerged, then it is almost always the operator’s fault. The operator may also share fault if the crash was due to wake. However, other vessels are responsible for keeping their wake to a minimum, especially in high traffic and confined areas. If the PWC crashes because a larger vessel was moving quickly and was responsible for creating violent waves, the operator of the other vessel will likely be responsible.
Passengers on a PWC may be able to bring a claim against the PWC’s operator or the operator of other vessels, depending on the cause of the crash. As PWC’s are typically at fault for a wreck, this means anyone hurt in a crash will need to file a suit against the operator or owner of the vehicle.
What kind of injuries can result from a jet ski accident?
It may not seem like hitting water can result in severe injuries, but at high speeds, there is little difference between striking the water and striking a solid object. Water doesn’t displace fast enough to accommodate a person hitting it at high speed, so broken bones, collapsed lungs, ruptured blood vessels, ripped ligaments and tendons, and traumatic brain injuries are all common. If the rider hits the water with enough force, they may be knocked senseless and be unable to swim. Safety wear like lifejackets are supposed to protect someone in this situation, but many opt not to wear them, putting themselves at risk of drowning.
The injuries resulting from a jet ski accident can take years to recover from and medical expenses may be punishing as well. Once you have sought medical attention and begun recovery, consider seeking legal assistance and weighing options for recovering compensation.