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Boating accidents surged in 2017

Many Minnesotans enjoy boating during the warmer months. However, it is important for people who ride on or operate boats to follow safety guidelines to help prevent boating accidents.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, boating fatalities fell in 2017 while non-fatal accidents increased. During the year, there were 90 boating accidents and 12 fatalities. The number of accidents was the highest that was reported since 2007. The number of accidents on Minnesota's waterways and lakes has more than doubled in just the past four years.

The DNR states that while the increase in accidents can be partially attributed to a longer boating season, much of the increase is due to distracted boating. The DNR indicates that many of the accidents were caused by boat operators who were distracted by their phones, GPS, radar and other devices. Unlike distracted driving, distracted boating is not prohibited under the state's laws. Boaters may receive citations for careless boating, but officials say that the misdemeanor offense is difficult to enforce. Of the 12 people who were killed, five were on small watercraft and only one was wearing a life jacket.

People who have been injured in boating crashes caused by the negligence of others might want to obtain legal counsel. Attorneys may be able to hold the negligent operators liable for damages. If more than one boat operator was negligent, the injured passengers could hold both of the operators liable by filing personal injury lawsuits in which both are named. The lawyers may work to identify all of the parties who should be named as defendants in an effort to maximize the settlement.

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Law Office of Jeffrey A. Jones, PA

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