Boating Accidents

When people think of Indiana, they don’t tend to picture water. Known best for things like our race cars, basketball, cornfields and tenderloins, it may be a shock to even native Hoosiers that Indiana hosts 86 lakes within its borders—and that’s not even counting manmade residential lakes, many of which are deep and large enough to host boats.

In addition, several major rivers grace our state, notably the White River here in Indianapolis, and because of all that, boating is a popular activity in Indiana.

While boating brings about many positives, one of its downsides is the risk of boating accidents. According to the United States Coast Guard, there were 4,291 boating accidents resulting in 2,629 injuries and 658 deaths in 2017. And while overall US boating accidents decreased from 2016 to 2017, Indiana did not experience such a decline, instead seeing an increase from 40 to 57 accidents, including an increase in fatalities.

Apart from the risk of fatalities, boating accidents also can result in serious bodily harm and injury in addition to property damage.

At Poynter & Bucheri LLC, our Indianapolis boating accident attorneys have extensive experience handling these complex personal injury cases. We help clients recover compensation for injuries and losses caused by a boating accident.

You Can Talk to Someone Right Now About Your Indiana Boating Accident!

Visit our contact page or call 1-800-265-9881 or (317) 780-8000 to request a free case review with a member of our PBAR legal team.

Common Causes of Boating Accidents

In 2018, there were 11.85 million recreational boating vessels registered in the United States, with the most popular type of boat being the outboard boat, which is a watercraft with the motor attached to the outside. In 2017, the United States saw more than 23,000 powerboats sold.

With so many boats comes the risk of accidents. Here are the most common causes of boating accidents, all of which the PBAR legal team is prepared to handle.

Negligence by the Operator

Negligence by the owner, operator, or driver can have traumatic and horrific consequences for passengers and others on the water.  From driving the boat at an excessive speed to failing to have the proper safety equipment on the boat can result in a serious injury or death.

Other examples of negligence that could result in a boating accident include:

  • Operating the boat at a high speed
  • Failing to maintain the boat or make necessary boat repairs
  • Overloading or overcrowding the vessel
  • Collisions with fixed objects or other watercraft
  • Contact with propellers
  • Hitting the wake or big wave at excessive speeds
  • Operating the boat without proper instruction or experience

When an owner or operator is negligent, that person can be held liable for damages and losses caused by a boat accident. However, proving negligence may be difficult.

Our Indianapolis boating accident attorneys can help you identify the cause of the accident and obtain the evidence needed to prove negligence and liability.

Careless and Reckless Operation of a Boat

A boat owner and operator have a duty of care to operate the boat in a reasonable manner to avoid accidents and injuries to passengers and others. When someone fails to operate the vessel in a reasonable and prudent manner to avoid injury, that person may be held liable for injuries.

Furthermore, if the person willfully disregarded the safety of other individuals or property, there could be other consequences for that person.

Indiana has laws in place for who should legally operate a motorboat, and reckless operation of a boat would be allowing someone under the age of 15 to operate a boat or personal watercraft (PWC) capable of speeds over 10hp.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources offers boating education courses, and all those who operate a motorboat must carry a valid driver’s license or complete a required education course and have a state-issued ID onboard with them.

Filing an Indianapolis boating accident claim for reckless and careless operation can be difficult to prove. Contact the law office of Poynter & Bucheri LLC to discuss how we can help you hold someone responsible for the damage they caused because of their reckless and careless behavior on the water.

Boating Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

While it may not be illegal to consume alcoholic beverages on a boat, it is illegal to operate a vessel while intoxicated or impaired by drugs. An operator can face serious criminal penalties if convicted of a boating DUI. That person also can be held liable for damages caused by a DUI boating accident.

Our PBAR legal team aggressively pursues DUI boating accident claims to hold the person who caused the accident liable for the damages he or she caused because of alcohol or drug use while boating.

Jet Ski Accident Claims and Other Watercraft Accident Claims

In addition to boating accident claims, Poynter & Bucheri LLC represents clients who have been injured in jet ski accidents and other watercraft-related accidents.

Jet ski accidents can cause traumatic injuries because of the lack of protection the rider has from the impact of the collision. Severe back injuries, complex fractures and traumatic brain injuries are common types of boating accident injuries in jet ski accidents.

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Common Injuries Caused by Boating Accidents

Complex Fractures

While any bone fracture is painful and inconvenient, fractures that are the result of a motor vehicle or boating accident are often of a more serious nature.

According to Yale Medicine, such accidents can result in shattered bones or bones that break in multiple places, which result in more complicated treatment and require special cooperation for the surgeons and doctors involved to provide the best care for the accident victim.


Unlike a puncture wound, a laceration is a wound characterized by the tearing of soft tissue that often is jagged, irregular and easily contaminated by the object or debris that caused the wound. Lacerations often will require stitches and, depending on their location and depth, could result in permanent scarring or the need for plastic surgery.


One of the complications of whiplash and other soft tissue injuries is that its symptoms may not always present immediately. According to the Mayo Clinic, common symptoms of whiplash include neck pain and stiffness; pain with movement or loss of range of motion in the neck; headaches; tenderness in the shoulder, back and arms; tingling or numbness in the arms; fatigue; dizziness; blurred vision; tinnitus; problems with memory, concentration or sleep; and changes in behavior and mood such as irritability and depression.

While whiplash may be short lived, complications also can result in chronic pain for the victim or permanent symptoms.

Back and Spinal Cord Injuries

Due to the lack of safety restraints or harnesses (such as seat belts) on boats, operating them at high speeds can result in back injuries from the force of hitting the water or colliding with another object or boat.

Injury to the spinal cord can result in the loss of feeling or movement or varying degrees of paralysis and sometimes leads to death. Spinal cord injuries are very serious and can alter life for the sufferer drastically.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, occur with sudden blows to the head and can vary in severity from concussions to permanent damage. Many TBI sufferers can recover with rest and medication, but the more severe cases can require surgeries, intensive care and prolonged therapy and treatment.

Tragically, injuries such as those also can result in fatalities. Additional causes of fatalities from boating accidents are:

  • Electrocution: Tragically, electrocution is a common occurrence in boating accidents due to the close proximity of water to electrical equipment. Electrocution while boating may result in death due to electric shock drowning, such as if a boat has faulty wiring and someone is swimming nearby. Electrical burns also can occur.
  • Drowning: Drowning often occurs silently, which leads to its high fatality rate. For those rescued and resuscitated, permanent damage can occur, such as mental problems, emotional suffering and continued respiratory issues. Drowning accounts for 7 percent of all injury-related deaths worldwide.

Boating in Indiana

Below are some of the most popular destinations for recreational boating and swimming in Indianapolis and its surrounding areas. This list is just a small sliver of the 86 lakes and multiple large rivers within our state borders.

Popular Bodies of Water in Indianapolis and Its Surrounding Areas


  • Geist Reservoir
  • Morse Reservoir
  • Lake Wawasee
  • Monroe Lake
  • Mississinewa Lake
  • Lake Lemon
  • Lake Shafer
  • Lake Maxinkuckee
  • Brookville Lake
  • Pine Lake
  • Lake Michigan

Rivers and Streams

  • The White River
  • Fall Creek
  • The Ohio River

In addition, there are many residential lakes that allow boating within Indianapolis and its surrounding areas. While many restrict the speed at which craft are allowed to travel, boating accidents can occur with any sized craft at any speed, even docked boats.

Are You a Local Boat Owner?

Protect yourself and those you love by operating your boat responsibly and within our state’s laws. Be sure to follow the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ guidelines and boating laws on registration and more. Visit the BMV website for more information.

Even if you are not a boater, swimmers are at risk of becoming victims of boating accidents. If you are active recreationally on any natural body of water, it is important to know what to do in the case of personal injury as the result of watercraft or boats.

What Do I Do If Injured in a Boating Accident?

If you or a loved one is injured in a boating accident, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Get everyone out of the water if possible. If someone is severely injured and you suspect spinal cord injuries, do not attempt to lift them from the water. Make use of flotation devices when possible.
  2. Call the police. Alert them to the accident and any and all injuries. Stay calm.
  3. Take pictures. Record and report everything you remember about the accident and make note of all injuries, no matter how minor they may seem. Be as detailed as possible.
  4. Get medical care. Seek treatment as soon as possible.
  5. Avoid posting about your accident or injury on social media, which can complicate insurance and legal claims.
  6. Hire an attorney. At PBAR, you can talk to a member of our experienced team about your claim 24/7. Call (800) 265-9881 or (317) 780-8000 now to speak with a PBAR representative.

What Can I Do to Recover Damages for a Boating Accident Injury?

If you have been injured in an Indiana boating accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries, losses and damages. However, the responsible party and the insurance provider may dispute liability and fault. Unless you can prove the party is responsible for causing the boating accident, you cannot hold the party liable for your damages.

Our Indianapolis boating accident attorneys have extensive knowledge of Indiana’s personal injury laws and statutes that relate to boating accident injuries. We use this information, combined with the facts and evidence we uncover as we investigate the boating accident, to hold the responsible party liable for your damages.

For injuries in a boating accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for damages including:

  • Medical expenses and costs
    Medical expenses in the case of boating accidents may range from the cost of emergency responders, medications, surgeries, physical therapy, hospital stays, physicians and medical equipment. All of these are expensive in the United States, and sufferers of injuries from boating accidents most likely face one or more of these expenses and often for an extended period of time.
  • Loss of income and wages
    Your injury may keep you from being able to work for a short to an extended period of time, and you may be entitled to receive compensation for your loss of income due to the accident.
  • Physical pain and discomfort
    The pain you suffer physically can affect not only your ability to do basic tasks but also take its toll on those around you who may need to help care for you or cover your tasks.
  • Mental anguish and emotional suffering
    Many injured victims of accidents require counseling and time to heal emotionally as well as physically after their accident. In addition, relationships can become strained due to the traumas of the illness, and mental and emotional disorders such as depression, anxiety and PTSD can affect the victim for years following their accident.
  • Permanent disabilities, scarring and disfigurement
    Those who suffer serious injuries in boating accidents, such as spinal cord injuries, brain injuries or loss of a limb, may have to deal with the permanence of their injury in ways that can affect their social, physical, emotional and mental health as well as their careers.
  • Future damages
    Many of the sufferings of those injured by boating accidents are ongoing, and you may be entitled to compensation for the future loss of earning capacity or wages as a result of your injury as well as future medical expenses and the cost of ongoing care.

To learn about the steps you need to take to protect your legal right to recover money for your boating accident claim, call (800) 265-9881 or (317) 780-8000 now to speak with a PBAR personal injury attorney.

Talk to a Member of the PBAR Legal Team 24/7 About Your Claim

We Specialize in Helping Personal Injury Victims Like You!
Learn more about your legal rights and the compensation you deserve for your accident claim by calling (800) 265-9881 or (317) 780-8000 to request your free consultation with an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer.

Our Indianapolis Boat Accident Lawyers Help Personal Injury Victims Like You!

Call 1-800-265-9881 or (317) 780-8000 to request your free consultation with an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer.  Boating accident claims are complex and require a different approach from other vehicle accidents.

Poynter & Bucheri, LLC offers no-cost, no-obligation legal consultations for accident victims and their families so that they can learn about their legal rights and their options for filing an Indiana boating accident claim.


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