A Greenwich, Connecticut man recently received a sentence of probation over a 2010 boating accident off the coast near Madaket in Nantucket. The August 2010 accident, described as a "hit-and-run boating collision," injured two people, sending both to the hospital.
Nearly a year later, in July 2011, prosecutors in Nantucket County charged the operator of one of the boats, 21 year-old James Sternlicht, with multiple offenses. These included unsafe operation of a motorboat and failure to report a motorboat accident. Because Sternlicht was under the age of 21 at the time of the accident, prosecutors added a charge for alcohol possession. They also charged him with operating a motorboat without a proper identification number. Massachusetts law, like the laws of Connecticut and other states, requires registration of boats, and requires that boats to have proper documentation.
In March 2012, a Nantucket District Court judge sentenced Sternlicht to one year of pretrial probation for the unsafe operation of a motorboat charge. The court fined Sternlicht $500 for failing to report the accident, and $50 for operating the boat without identification. Prosecutors dismissed the charge of alcohol possession. Sternlicht must also complete a boating safety class through the United States Coast Guard before he may operate a boat or any other water vessel again.
Boating accidents are a serious problem throughout the country. The U.S. Coast Guard identified 4,789 boating accidents in 2008. These accidents caused 709 deaths and 3,331 injuries, and caused about $54 million in property damage. Ninety percent of the fatalities did not have a life jacket on, and ninety percent occurred with boat operators who had not received safety training. The Coast Guard found that alcohol was the main factor in seventeen percent of boating accident deaths that year.
Connecticut requires a Safe Boating Certificate (SBC) in order to operate a recreational vessel such as a boat. For jet skis, described by state law as "personal watercraft," the state requires a Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation (CPWO). To obtain either certificate, an applicant must complete a basic boating course and an examination. Children under the age of 16 may operate a boat, but not a personal watercraft, if an adult age 18 or older with a SBC supervises them. Children under the age of 16 may operate a personal watercraft if an adult with a CWPO accompanies them.
People operating recreational boats have the same general duty of care as a person operating a motor vehicle to obey all applicable laws and operate the vessel in a reasonably safe manner. Boat operators who breach that duty are liable to the people they injure for their damages. These damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, costs of rehabilitation and future medical needs, and compensation for pain and suffering due to injuries.
People injured due to the negligent or criminal actions of others may have the right to compensation for their damages. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a Connecticut accident attorney, contact Paul Levin online or at (888) 560-7226.
Recreational Boating Statistics 2008 (PDF), U.S. Coast Guard
More Blog Posts:
Connecticut Man Charged with Fleeing Scene of Auto Accident that Killed Two People, Connecticut Injury Attorney Blog, March 8, 2012
Federal Safety Agencies Recommend Banning Almost All Electronic Device Usage While Driving, Connecticut Injury Attorney Blog, February 20, 2012
Water Skier Killed in Connecticut Boating Accident Last Weekend, Connecticut Injury Attorney Blog, August 2, 2011