Jet skiing is a fun activity for people of almost all ages, and one that is particularly popular in southern climates like those we enjoy in Florida, due to the milder year-round weather. While friends and family in the northern states are shoveling their driveways, Floridians can still enjoy the sunshine on their personal watercraft (PWC). But this fun pastime also has a darker side; it can be very dangerous. Jet skiing accidents are sadly a common occurrence and it is the responsibility of all PWC owners to do what they can to minimize their risk of being injured or even killed in a watercraft accident.
Many Jet Ski operators do not know the limitations of their craft—both in terms of speed and stopping distance. While most assume that a jet ski can stop abruptly, it typically takes considerable time and distance to bring a personal watercraft completely to a halt. Another thing many novice and even some experienced riders don’t realize is that when the engine of a Jet Ski is turned off, the vessel can and will continue to travel in the same direction—even if the handlebars are turned. A large number of jet ski accidents are caused by riders engaging in common stunts that are actually forbidden by the law; for example, almost everywhere in the U.S. it is actually illegal to make sharp turns near another vessel, or jump another vessel’s wake within 100 feet of that or any other vessel. It is also illegal to follow a boat too closely or to chase another personal watercraft in small circles. These stunts are often featured on television and movies, so that individuals think that they are perfectly safe; however, any of these activities, when combined with a lack of experience and training, can lead to serious injuries and even fatalities.
There are some safety precautions that riders can take to avoid injuries, however. The primary precaution is to know your personal watercraft very well before you ever get into the water with it. While the design makes it seem easy to maneuver and control a Jet Ski, if you have never ridden one before, you should absolutely take care to learn the features. Another important precaution is to wear non-inflatable life jackets while riding a personal watercraft. This precaution has actually been codified into law—everyone who uses a jet ski is required by law to wear a life jacket.
One seemingly obvious precaution is to never use a jet ski at night. If you wonder why this is “obvious,” then consider that the open sea is much, much more dangerous at night than during the day. The lack of visibility makes it difficult to see other watercraft that you may collide in, and the darkness also prevents a clear judgment of how the water itself is behaving. If these reasons aren’t good enough, consider that if you get stranded in the middle of the ocean—at night—you will have to wait for the sun to rise before anyone can see you.
If you have been injured while jet skiing, it would be a good idea to contact and retain the services of a Jet skiing accident attorney. These professionals have the ability to assist you in your claim, and will do what they can to help you receive the compensation you deserve. If you have taken the precautions you should, it isn’t right that you should simply suffer from the negligence or mistakes of another. Contact a personal injury attorney with experience in jet ski accidents to help you.