Boating and Spinal Cord Injuries


Written by Mackenzie Saunders:

As the weather gets warmer, many people look to boating as a way to cool off. While boating is a fun and exciting way to spend your time outdoors, boating can also cause serious injuries. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that boating accidents resulted in 2,629 injuries and 658 deaths in the United States in 2017. Among the injuries sustained were over 50 spinal cord injuries (SCIs).


Leading Causes of Watercraft Accidents

There are three leading causes of spinal cord injuries while boating: collisions, excessive speed, and recreational activities on the water.


While boating, there is always a risk of colliding with a submerged object, another watercraft, or a fixed object. A boat can collide with a submerged object, which includes sandbars and large rocks. A boat can also collide with another boat if one or both of the drivers are not paying close attention. Lastly, it is common for a boat to collide with a fixed object such as a cliff or a wall if the boat operator is not paying close attention.

When a boat collides with a submerged object, another boat, or a fixed object, there is a possibility of one or more passengers sustaining an SCI upon impact. One or more passengers risk being thrown from the craft—or risk hitting their neck or back on the boat—after a collision. Hitting your neck or back on the water or boat can cause you to sustain an SCI and may lead to quadriplegia or paraplegia. To prevent collisions, the operator must always pay close attention to submerged objects, other boats, and fixed objects while driving.

Excessive Speed

Another cause of boat-related spinal cord injuries is excessive speeding. If the boat operator is driving at an excessive and dangerous speed, there is a risk of passengers being thrown from the boat into the water. There is also a risk of passengers being thrown into the air and landing back in the boat with great impact. Upon landing in the water or back inside the boat, you may hit your neck or back, which can result in a spinal cord injury. To avoid these types of boating accidents, the operator must always drive the boat at a safe and appropriate speed.

Recreational Activities

The final leading cause of spinal cord injuries while boating is participating in recreational activities on the water. When you go boating, you may participate in activities such as tubing, water skiing, or wakeboarding. While participating in any of these recreational activities, there is always a possibility of being thrown into the water, hurting your neck or back upon impact. Hitting the water upon impact can result in a spinal cord injury.

To prevent SCIs caused by recreational activities on the water, the operator must always drive the boat at a safe speed while someone is tubing, water skiing, or wakeboarding behind the boat. The driver must also refrain from making any sharp turns during these recreational activities to avoid throwing the participant into the water at great impact.

Exercise Caution to Prevent Boat Accidents and Spinal Cord Injuries

Although boating can be a great way to cool off in these warmer months, boating can also result in serious spinal cord injuries. It is imperative to practice precaution on the water to prevent serious accidents.

If you or a loved one has sustained a spinal cord injury due to a boating accident, please call The Spinal Cord Injury Law Firm at 1-877-SCI- FIRM for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights.