On July 11, 2017 around 1:45 a.m. in the morning, a fire broke out and engulfed a 65-foot catamaran in Falmouth, Massachusetts, according to CBS Boston. The flames quickly consumed the entire boat, and left a woman on-board with severe burns. Boating accidents like this are unfortunately far from uncommon.
Massachusetts has a state law governing boating accidents. M.G.L. c. 90B, § 1, defines “boating accident” as “…an occurrence in which a waterborne vessel subject to this chapter is involved, whether or not there has been any actual collision, and which results in damage by or to such vessel or its equipment, or by or to an object or person being towed, pushed or propelled by such vessel, or in which there is an injury to any person, loss of life, or disappearance of any person under circumstances which indicate the possibility of death or injury or disappearance of a vessel other than by theft.”
One common cause of boating accidents is the operation of a vessel under the influence of alcoholic or narcotics. M.G.L. c. 90B, § 8 prohibits the operation of any vessel on the waters of Massachusetts while the operator is under the influence intoxicating liquor, marijuana, narcotic drugs, depressant or stimulant substances, or glue vapors. According this statute, violators will face either a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1000, imprisonment for not more than 2.5 years, or both. The violator may additional have his or her boating license revoked or suspended.
Another cause of boating accidents is the operator’s failure to equip a boat with safety equipment. A boat is required to be equipped with the proper lighting, signaling and fire extinguishing and control devices according to the boat’s class pursuant to M.G.L. c. 90B, § 5. In addition, every boat is to be equipped with a Coast Guard approved flotation device for each person according to M.G.L. c. 90B, § 5A.
In the event of a boating accident, the operator involved is to provide his name, address, and identification of his vessel to any injured person and to the owner of any damaged property pursuant to M.G.L. c. 90B, § 9. And according to this statute, should the damage exceed $500, the operator or any authorized person shall immediately notify the Division of Law Enforcement of the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement. For every accident, the operator is to submit a written report within 5 days to the Division. In cases where a death resulted, the report shall be submitted within 48 hours.