Safety Scuttlebutt for Smooth Sailing: Maritime Laws and Tips to Keep You Afloat

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Boating Accidents in Louisiana

Water is abundant throughout the state of Louisiana, and its lakes, rivers and gulf areas have become a destination for many boating enthusiasts. Whether you work on a boat or simply enjoy boating for pleasure, bodies of water such as Caddo Lake, Calcasieu Lake, Cane River Lake, Lake D’Arbonne, Henderson Lake, Lake Larto and False River make Louisiana a great state in which to live or visit.

When boating leads to accidents and injuries, Neblett, Beard & Arsenault is here to help. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney from the firm regarding your case today.


Louisiana law requires boaters to complete a boater education course before taking a vessel to the water. The law also prohibits any of the following dangerous activities:

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Reckless boat operation: activities such as boating in a marked swimming area, chasing wildlife or weaving through congested traffic could all be considered reckless boat operation. It is also prohibited to allow passengers to ride on an uncovered bow or gunwale of a boat without guards or railings.
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Speeding: operating a boat at speeds higher than the allowed limit is speeding. It is also illegal to ignore “idle speeds” and “no wake” speed zones.
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Overloading: it is illegal to load your boat beyond its carrying capacity.
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Careless boat operation: operating a boat in a manner that puts you at risk of running into another vehicle or at speeds high enough to produce a dangerous wake is considered careless boat operation.
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Overpowering: Fitting the boat with an engine that exceeds the capacity of the vessel can cause a serious accident.
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Operating a boat under unsafe conditions: this includes operating a boat without life jackets, fire extinguishers and navigation lights.
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Boating education is a requirement: All persons born after January 1, 1984 are required to complete a boating education course and carry the proof of completion to operate a motorboat in excess of 10 horsepower.



After a boating incident, it can be difficult to know the best course of action, or where to turn for help. Understanding the steps to take after the accident occurs can help you to protect your right to compensation for your injuries, all accident-related expenses, as well as for pain and suffering.

The first thing you should do after a boating accident is determine whether you or anyone else aboard needs medical attention. If the vessel is no longer afloat or you have been thrown from the boat, use a life jacket or floating debris to stay afloat.

Once you are safe and have received medical care, contact the coast guard to let them know that an accident has occurred. Gather all of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any boat operators involved, passengers on any other boat involved, and eyewitnesses that may have observed the accident.

You must forward an incident report form to Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Division (LDWF/LED) within five days of the accident. An attorney can assist you with taking the proper legal steps following a boating accident.


Louisiana’s commercial port is one of the largest in the country, and home to a thriving fishing industry and many offshore drilling operations. Working on a commercial vessel carries many risks. The Jones Act is a significant piece of legislation for maritime workers. The Act officially codifies the protections of maritime workers and lays out their rights. Under the Act, maritime employees have the right to bring a lawsuit before federal and state courts and the right to pursue legal action against ship owners for negligence and unseaworthiness.

Work-related injuries among employees on commercial boats can be significant, and will require the assistance of an attorney that is skilled in maritime law. There are many unique laws that govern commercial boating activities in Louisiana and it is important that the attorney you hire has extensive experience handling commercial boating accidents.


Safe boating is the result of applying boating education and training. It is important to utilize boating safety tips at all times in order to avoid needless injuries and deaths.


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The American Boating Association reported 2,678 fatalities related to boating accidents in 2014


The fatality rate was 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vehicles in 2014

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The number of accidents increased from 2013 to 2014 by 10.6%


78% of known deaths related to boating accidents involved drowning


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Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents
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Other common reasons for boating accidents included: operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure and excessive speed.




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Wear a life jacket: life jackets prevent drownings and should always be worn.
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Don’t drink alcohol: alcohol affects physical coordination, balance and judgment. It accounts for a third of all boating fatalities. Boating under the influence is extremely dangerous. Never allow someone that has been drinking operate the vessel you are on.
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Educate yourself: The majority of boating incidents are caused by operator error. Boating education helps prevent accidents and helps keep boat operators safe.
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Understand carbon monoxide hazards: carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. It is essentially a poisonous gas that is emitted by combustion engines. Carbon monoxide poisoning is extremely dangerous and can kill in a matter of minutes. Always keep your equipment maintained and use CO detectors in all inside areas of the watercraft.



If you have sustained injuries in a boat accident, speak with an experienced boating accident attorney from Neblett, Beard & Arsenault. Our attorneys have the resources and experience needed to prepare an effective case strategy. Our legal team has a reputation across Louisiana for recovering high value settlements and verdicts, and we are ready to help you. Contact us today.


• Department of Wildlife and Fisheries: Boating Safety
• American Boating Association: Boating Fatalities
• United States Coast Guard: Recreational Boating Statistics