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The Most Common Boating Accident Injuries


With summer just around the corner, plenty of people are gearing up for fun on the water. Recreational boating is an activity beloved by many this time of year. In an instant, however, a seemingly perfect summer day can abruptly end in tragedy.

If you recreate in Florida, your risk of being injured in a boating accident is higher than anywhere else in the U.S. Not only does Florida have the most registered recreational vessels than any other state (959,816), but it also recorded the most boating accidents in the U.S. during 2020 (804), according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Coast Guard. This figure was almost twice that of California, which had the next highest number of recorded boating accidents (493).

5 Most Common Boating Accident Injuries

While the number of boating accident injuries in Florida decreased from 534 to 469 between 2020 and 2021, this is only a difference of a few dozen injuries. Either figure comes very close to a 50% chance of getting injured in any given boating accident.

Of course, not all boating injuries are the same. Below, we’ll go over the five most common boating accident injuries in Florida, according to the most recent data available from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

1. Lacerations

A laceration is a cut to the skin, often causing bleeding but could also affect muscle tissue and cause nerve damage if the cut is deep enough. During 2021, Florida officials recorded 133 reported lacerations caused by boating accidents. Not much detail about how these lacerations occurred or the severity of the injury, but it’s not hard to imagine why this was the most common type of injury.

Recreational boats are often made of aluminum or fiberglass. When damage occurs to these vessels in a collision, anyone within the immediate vicinity can get cut by these materials when they shatter. Another common reason for lacerations is unintentional contact with an operating propeller, which can happen anytime boats operate near individuals in the water.

2. Contusions

In Florida, boating accidents were responsible for 78 reports of contusions. “Contusion” is the medical term for a bruise, but that doesn’t necessarily mean this type of injury is minor.

Contusions commonly occur when blood capillaries under the skin rupture, often due to some form of trauma. That said, they can also occur in muscle tissue and even bone in very severe cases, which should be immediately addressed by a medical professional to prevent further or prolonged injury.

3. Broken Bones

There are many different ways to break a bone in a boating accident. Getting thrown from the vessel, getting crushed between the boat and another obstacle, or making forceful contact with any part of the boat (especially the propeller) are just a few ways to break bones in a boating accident.

In 2021, broken bones were reported almost as often as contusions, with 73 incidents on record.

4. Head Injuries

Although head injuries aren’t as common as the previous three types of injuries, they can be the deadliest. Any injury to the head in a boating accident substantially increases the risk of drowning. A life jacket or some other form of personal flotation device can reduce the drowning risk, but the injured party may still suffer a traumatic brain injury. Additionally, any head injury can also include other medical emergencies, such as contusions, lacerations, and skull fractures.

Forty-eight boaters in Florida suffered head injuries during 2021.

5. Back Injuries

Back injuries can be just as severe as head injuries, especially when the injury involves the spinal cord. In 2021, there were 28 reports of back injuries from boating accidents. These can occur in several different ways, most of which we’ve already covered. Back injuries can result in anything from lifelong pain to herniated discs, nerve damage, paralysis, and much more severe consequences.

A Special Note on Drowning

The only data the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission seems to have readily available on drowning refers to it as a cause of death. During 2021, 33 people died in this manner. Drowning, however, doesn’t always result in death.

Technically, drowning is a type of suffocation caused by the inhalation of water. If rescuers can remove water from a drowning victim’s lungs soon enough, the victim can survive the incident.

Although, surviving a drowning incident spurred by a boating accident doesn’t always mean a full recovery. A person can still face infection and lifelong respiratory issues caused by damage to their lungs. If the person was oxygen-deprived for long enough, they may also experience moderate or severe brain damage.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you or someone you love was injured in a recent boating accident, you can hold those responsible for the incident accountable. With help from Paulsen Law Group, you can learn more about legal options that may be available to you when you need to recover damages for a boating accident someone else caused.

Learn more during a free consultation with our team. Contact us online now for more information.

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