Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP
Treating California’s Injured With Dignity And Respect
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San Francisco Boating Accident Attorney

 California has endless opportunities for recreational boaters whether it be on the San Francisco Bay, the Delta, lakes, or rivers.  Sailboats, catamarans and cabin cruisers frequent the San Francisco Bay.  In the Delta, boaters love to visit a variety of bars and restaurants between water skiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing, and jet skiing.  Lake Berryessa, Shasta Lake, Clear Lake, and Lake Tahoe are favorite areas for sail boats, powered runabouts such as the popular Cobalt boats, pontoon party boats, houseboats and jet skis.  Our beautiful rivers, like the shallow Humboldt County rivers such as the Eel and the American River in Sacramento, provide terrific locations for pleasure boating, water skiing, fishing, and rafting.

Boating brings serious risk of injuries due to inexperience, lax adherence to safety, and alcohol consumption.  Under California law, a person must be at least 16 years old and in possession of a California Boater Card to legally operate a vessel powered by a motor of 15 horsepower or more, including personal watercraft. Yet, persons 12 to 15 years old may operate such a vessel if supervised on board by a person at least 18 years old and in possession of a California Boater Card.  Thus, you can find a child only 12 years old operating a boat on Lake Tahoe!

A California Boater Card shows that the holder successfully passed an examination from an approved boating safety course.  Currently, boaters 50 years of age or younger are required to possess a Boater Card to legally operate a vessel.  By 2025, all boaters regardless of age must possess a Boater Card.  (See California Harbors and Navigation Code Section 678.11(b).)

Beyond incident and injuries involving personal watercraft, passengers of commercial vessels also can experience injuries.  Ferries that haul passengers in and out of San Francisco are common carriers, owing passengers the highest duty of care.  On large cruise ships, passengers may fall from decks or through railings.  Further, major accidents can occur at docking facilities during sailboat docking.

 The operation of boats and litigation of boating injury cases are controlled by many different laws.  These include federal laws, such as the Jones Act and the Federal Rules of the Road, and California laws, such as the Harbors and Navigation Code and regulations adopted by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways.   Local law enforcement patrol most waterways.  The San Francisco Bay and Lake Tahoe are patrolled by the U.S. Coast Guard – Lake Tahoe extends across two states.

In California, life jackets must be worn by everyone on board a personal watercraft (e.g., jet ski) and anyone being towed behind a vessel.  On boats, readily available life jackets must be carried for each person on board.

William Smith, partner at ASW, has been a Tahoe boater for nearly 20 years and knows the Lake and its hazards. There are areas of Lake Tahoe where swimmers and kayakers closely interact with bigger boats, creating a risk of collision.

Collisions often happen due to substance abuse, alcohol consumption and speeding when watercraft operators are not familiar with the territory.  Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP has represented many boaters, passengers, and recreational users of California waterways involved in boating accidents.  Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help you obtain full and fair compensation for all damages suffered due to someone else’s negligence. We thoroughly and systematically prepare every case for presentation to a jury, and we keep our clients informed of case developments and status. Contact our firm today.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious or catastrophic injury as a result of another’s recklessness or carelessness, we invite you to contact a San Francisco Bay personal injury attorney at Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP, for skilled and knowledgeable legal counsel.