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Bakersfield Boatings Accident Lawyers

Accidents can happen at any time, even when you’re relaxing on a watercraft. Whether you’re fishing on a small private lake or you’re practicing water sports on a large body of water, there will always be risks. 

According to Recreational Boating Statistics from the United States Coast Guard, California experienced 454 boating accidents in 2021 alone. And a stunning 39 California residents lost their lives in fatal accidents. The only state with more watercraft accidents was Florida. 

Boating registrations are steadily increasing in California. They jumped from roughly 650,000 to around 700,000 between 2020 and 2021. With more boats on the water, there are more opportunities for collisions and risky behaviors. 

Chain | Cohn | Clark is here to represent victims of boat and watercraft accidents in California. If you believe your injuries were in some way caused by another person’s negligence, don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm. We have knowledgeable boat crash attorneys who will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. 

Our Location in Bakersfield

Types of Boat Accidents

Boating injuries are not limited to collisions between vessels. They can include a variety of different water-related injuries. Below are some common types of boat injuries that we see in California. 


When a boat crashes or takes on too much water, it can completely overturn. A flipped watercraft can throw passengers into the water or trap them underneath, causing a dangerous situation. 

Slips and Falls

Accidents that happen on the boat may also be considered boating accidents. If somebody loses their balance on the boat’s deck because it was not properly treated, cleaned, etc., they may be able to pursue damages against the boat owner. 

Burn Injuries

Boats have electrical components that can short-circuit and catch fire. Any passenger is at risk of inhaling smoke or getting burned when the ship goes up in flames. Depending on the events that follow, passengers may also sustain injuries when they jump from a burning boat. 


Out of the 39 boating accident fatalities in California in 2021, 32 were drowning accidents. Nationwide, the U.S. Coast Guard found that 75% of boating fatalities in 2020 were caused by drowning. Out of those drowning fatalities, 86% of the victims were not wearing a life jacket. 

If the boat’s driver does not have a life jacket available for you, it is unsafe for you to go on their vessel. In addition, you could get into legal trouble if an authority catches you unprepared. 

Passengers Overboard

Water can be rough and choppy. When moving at very high speeds or maneuvering too frantically, sudden changes in direction can throw passengers from the boat into the water. Especially in wavy conditions, an individual without a life jacket can struggle to recover without some sort of injury. 

Equipment Issues

If any part of a boat is not working properly, it could lead to a crash. The boat must be able to steer and brake effectively; otherwise, the operator puts everyone on the lake—including themselves—at risk. 

Jet Ski Explosions

In some cases, a jet ski collision may lead to an explosion that can severely injure those involved. If you or a loved one is in a jet ski explosion in California, reach out to our jet ski explosion lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Clark for legal assistance. 

Vessel Collisions

If the boat’s operator is distracted or unable to control their boat, they may run into another vessel. Boat crashes can lead to serious property damage and throw passengers overboard. In high-speed crashes, boats are more likely to capsize. 

Object Collision

Sometimes, there is something in the water that is not easily visible to the boat operator. This could be a post, a floating piece of garbage, or even a swimmer. If the operator passes too close or even collides with the object, there may be serious repercussions. 

Running Aground

When a boat operator approaches their docking station, they must slow down significantly to keep control over their vessel. If they are going too fast, they may crash into a dock or travel too close to the shore. These collisions can cause damage to the boat and the area they crash into. 

While California has a number of boating laws that aim to protect boat operators and their passengers, there is still a lot of responsibility placed on boaters to follow them. Similar to driving a car, small mistakes can lead to serious injuries. 

The Bakersfield boat accident attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark can help you recover damages from the negligent party that caused your accident.

Causes of Boating Accidents

Bakersfield has a variety of different bodies of water, which make boating a popular activity throughout most of the year. Relatively stable temperatures and a growing population mean a steady flow of boaters are out on the water. As fun as it is to be on a lake filled with boats, there is much more danger when surrounded by others.

Navigating busy waterways and dodging other vessels and swimmers can be difficult, especially when people are drinking. Holidays are an especially dangerous time to be on the water, as the celebratory mindset can motivate risky decisions. Below are some of the more popular causes of boating accidents in Bakersfield to be aware of. 

Poor Lookout

Every vessel should have a designated lookout who can watch what’s going on in the surrounding environment. The operator is often limited to focusing on the path in front of the boat from the captain’s chair. A lookout can get a better perspective and help navigate upcoming hazards. If the lookout gets distracted or doesn’t perform their duties, it could lead to an accident or collision with another object on the water. 

Boating Under the Influence

The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) allowed when operating a boat in California is the same as that allowed while driving a car–0.08%. However, just because you are under that limit does not mean you are completely safe from the law. If an individual consumes alcohol or drugs that impair their ability to operate a watercraft, they can suffer consequences regardless of their BAC. 

Traveling Too Fast

Speed limits on the water help to decrease risks for boaters. In narrow waterways where tight maneuvers must be made or there is a lot of traffic, boats aren’t allowed to go fast. There will likely still be speed limits enforced in open waters to prevent dangerous situations. The faster a boat goes, the harder it is to control, the more impact crashing into waves will have, and the more difficult it will become to see objects in the water.

Lack of Experience

To operate a boat with at least 15 horsepower in California, an individual must be at least 16 years of age and have a California Boater Card. Without this training, a boater may be a liability to others on the lake, as they won’t know how to react in dangerous situations. They may also fail to prepare the proper equipment required by state laws. 

Distracted Operators 

When operating a boat, the driver must maintain strict focus on the task at hand. Busy lakes especially can be filled with obstacles and potential hazards. If the driver becomes distracted, they could collide with something or run over a swimmer. This is another reason why a lookout is necessary when on a watercraft.

If another party makes one of these mistakes and you sustain an injury as a result, you have a right to hold them liable. Our boat accident lawyers can help you through the process and help you determine whether or not you have a case. We will help you prove the other party’s fault and negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance companies. 

Common Boating Injuries

The amount of money you may receive from a boat injury lawsuit will depend heavily on the injuries you sustain from the accident. If you only experience minor injuries that heal quickly, you might not be eligible for significant compensation. 

However, if you sustain a serious injury that may take years of treatment, you could have a decent claim on your hands. Below are some of the common boating injuries that we see in Bakersfield.

  • Internal bleeding
  • Drowning
  • Concussion
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Cuts
  • Injuries to the back and neck
  • Injuries to the spinal cord

If you are injured on a watercraft, it may be difficult to seek immediate medical attention. Attempt to get yourself out of harm’s way and contact the proper authorities to be ready for you when you return to land. 

Even if you do not feel as though you have sustained any major injuries, you should still get checked out by a medical professional. If you wait too long to make an appointment, you might hurt your case by showing that you weren’t concerned. Not to mention that some injuries are worse than they seem. 

Compensation for Boating Accidents

An experienced boat or barge accident lawyer will help you file a claim to receive benefits for all you have lost or had to pay as a result of your injuries. This includes all the same types of compensation you could receive in a personal injury case, such as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Property damage(s)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of companionship
  • Permanent disfigurement or impairment

In cases of extreme negligence, you may be able to recover punitive—or exemplary—damages, which punish the defendant for their mistakes. If you think you have a case for benefits of this nature, contact a boating injury lawyer as soon as possible to get started. 

Boating Accident Lawsuit Timeline

The California statute of limitations on boat accidents is two years, the same window as personal injury lawsuits. You must initiate a lawsuit within two years of the accident if you wish to have a legal right to compensation. Missing this deadline almost always results in no benefits. 

The sooner you get started with Chain | Cohn | Clark, the sooner a watercraft accident lawyer can help you get a settlement check. 

Avoiding a Boat Accident

Boat injuries are not always predictable. Sometimes, circumstances outside of your control can lead to a dangerous accident. If you are injured, we have your back, but it’s always better to avoid injury altogether if possible. Below are some tips for staying safe on the water.

  • Check the weather ahead of time. There’s no harm in rescheduling plans if you might get caught in a storm or extreme temperatures. 
  • Take a boating safety course to ensure that you know the proper expectations and protocols in a dangerous situation.
  • Check your boat from bow to stern each time you leave the dock. If you notice anything that seems abnormal, address it before you ship out.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy at all times. Just because you’re on the water doesn’t mean your boat can’t catch fire.
  • Double-check that you have life jackets for each person aboard.
  • Don’t drink when you’re boating. You can get in trouble with the law or cause serious damage if a collision occurs due to intoxication. 

Chain | Cohn | Clark Boat Accident Lawyers

California boat accident law can be complicated when determining fault and trying to prove how a collision has affected your life. The boating accident attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark have represented residents throughout the greater California area around Kern County. 

We understand how to help you through this difficult time in your life. Whether you or your loved one sustained an injury, we can help. Fill out our online contact form or call us today for more information.

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