Riding a jet ski on a warm, sunny day with the waves all around looks like the perfect summer fun. Unfortunately it is one of the most dangerous activities on the water. Over Memorial Day weekend a father and his 10-year-old son were killed during a family vacation in North Carolina when the jet ski they were riding on crashed into a pier as the mother and daughter watched from another jet ski on the water.
Despite being much smaller than a boat, a personal watercraft (PWC) is quite difficult to maneuver. This can lead to a variety of accidents including collisions with other vessels or people in the water, being thrown off the jet ski, or falling with a great deal of force back onto the jet ski itself. The U.S. Coast Guard reports 36% of all injuries from boating accidents are suffered by someone on a personal watercraft.
Even the most experienced riders can be injured on a jet ski. This week in Hawaii, a seasoned fire fighter was in critical condition when he was knocked off the back of a jet ski during a training exercise. The veteran of the Honolulu fire department and another firefighter were hit by a large wave, which sent the 63-year-old flying into the water unconscious. While the firefighter was no stranger to riding a personal watercraft, the overwhelming majority of accidents on PWCs involve someone with little to no education, instruction, or practice on how to operate them.
Jet ski owners many times will let friends and family ride on or operate their PWC with no questions asked. This is a practice that needs to change. If you think of other motorized vehicles and equipment which require training and skill to operate, it would be reckless to let a novice try and manage them. The same should apply for a personal watercraft. The Coast Guard warns teenagers are at a very high risk for accidents on a jet ski, as operators from 11-20 years old are involved in more accidents than any other age group. On Memorial Day, two 14-year-old girls were seriously injured in Alabama when their jet ski collided with another one.
In New York State, individuals 14 and over are permitted to operate a personal watercraft and that is only after successfully completing and passing a boater safety course. This differs throughout the country. In most cases, anyone without proper instruction will be unable to effectively maneuver and stop a jet ski when an accident is imminent. Even in calm waters dangerous conditions are created from the aftereffects of other fast moving vessels (a wave pattern known as a wake).
Operating a personal watercraft is a major responsibility and should not be taken lightly. When an accident does occur, it usually leads to a severe injury and suddenly a day of fun on the water has affected the rest of your life. If you or someone you love has been injured in a jet ski accident, the negligence of another individual may be to blame. Contact the experienced attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., to recover the damages you may be entitled to.