In August or September 2012, a 16-year old female riding a jet ski suffered fatal brain injuries after another jet ski rammed her. This other vessel was driven by a 20-year old Australian male tourist. Prior to the accident, the male tourist could be seen (in a cellphone footage taken by his girlfriend) standing on his jet ski, oblivious of the other jet ski he was about to ram and of its occupant’s shouts to warn him of what was about to happen.
Thousands of frightening jet ski accidents happen around the world. In the U.S., records from the Coast Guard say that at least four thousand jet ski accidents occur every year. These accidents result to about 600 deaths and more than 2,600 injuries.
Despite its small size, a jet ski has the power of a real boat and can run up to 70 miles per hour. Designed to run at high speeds with its drivers and passengers not wearing any form of protection, no wonder they are vulnerable to many different kinds of serious and life-threatening injuries.
Rules and requirements for operating a jet ski vary by state. The most basic ones, however, only requires an operator to prove that; he/she is at least 16 years old (some states have the age 12 for base age limit); has heard a safety lesson, which takes only some minutes; and, has paid the $95 per hour rent fee.
According to the Bruner Law Firm, “beaches, bays and intracoastal waterway areas are ideal for recreational boating including jet skis or personal watercraft. The fun and enjoyment of those enjoying the water can be tragically interrupted by the carelessness or negligent acts of others causing personal water craft accidents (PWC). Florida is one state that enjoys the dubious distinction of having led the nation for several years as the state with the most marine accidents. Jet skis and boats don’t have brakes. Unlike cars, trucks and motorcycles, where the use of a brake, applied quickly and forcefully, can bring a vehicle under control, personal water craft and boats are largely dependent upon an operator’s effort to reduce the throttle or thrust of the engine, and change direction. This may be “too little, too late” and tragic injuries can occur.
Many jet ski or recreational boat operators are relatively new and inexperienced in the use of this watercraft. Having no brakes and greatly reduced steering abilities, are both counter intuitive to novice operators.
A jet ski is a very popular personal watercraft (PWC) because it is affordable, easy to use, and has low maintenance cost. Its increased use, after it was introduced in the 1960s, however, also resulted to a rise in the number of hazards and, besides accidents involving under-trained, underage and undereducated jet skiers, the U.S. Coast Guard also cites inattention, excessive speed, alcohol consumption, and reckless operation as the major contributing factors to jet ski accidents. Currently, accidents involving jet skis, yachts, kayaks, sailboats, canoes and other recreational boats, are the second largest transportation-related causes of injury in the U.S. (the first is still automobile accidents).
According to a boating accident attorney, a jet ski presents an excellent opportunity for fun on the water; however, serious injury can result when it is handled by someone who fails to exercise good judgment or follow the law. Due to this, it would be advisable that victims of accidents immediately contact a boating accident lawyer who can help assess the situation and the extent of liability of an at-fault operator.