What Is the Leading Cause of PWC Accidents?

When the weather warms up, there’s nothing quite as exhilarating as getting out on the water for some high-speed fun on your jet ski. But did you know personal watercraft like jet skis are the second most dangerous vessel in personal watercraft (PWC) accidents? According to the U.S. Coast Guard, they’re responsible for 40 to 50 deaths per year.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a jet ski accident, the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Lee, Gober & Reyna have your back. Get in touch with us for a free consultation today. In the meantime, continue reading to learn about the leading cause of PWC accidents and how you should proceed after being involved in one.

The Danger of Jet Skis

People of all ages, sizes, and experience levels ride jet skis. Anyone can purchase or rent one with no experience; all you have to do in most cases is sign a waiver. If it isn’t enough that jet skis lack safety restraints and sides to shield the rider from potential impact, this type of watercraft is also unstable at slow speeds and can climb up to 80 MPH!

You also have to consider that most adults enjoy drinking alcohol out on the water, which lowers inhibitions and mental acuity. And, when you factor in the proximity of jet skiers to other boaters and swimmers, jet skis can be a recipe for disaster.

The Top Causes of Jet Ski Accidents

What is the leading cause of personal watercraft (PWC) accidents? In reality, jet ski accidents can happen for many reasons, including mechanical failure, inattention, and more. Still, we’ve identified the top three, so you can know what to look for and avoid contributing to the problem.

Driving Recklessly

Unlike congested roads, the water is wide open, and it can be tempting to seek thrills by attempting stunts and high speeds. When the water is more crowded, some jet skiers impatiently weave through the water traffic and jump wakes while crossing the path of another watercraft. Reckless driving, a leading cause of PWC accidents, is hazardous for you and those around you.

Inexperience of the Rider

Jet ski rentals and purchases don’t usually come with safety instructions, which leads to unsafe operation and maneuvers among first-time and otherwise inexperienced riders. You are responsible for learning the safety basics for PWC if you are riding a jet ski for the first time. Brush up on local watercraft laws on Texas government websites, and seek out jet ski safety demonstrations on YouTube.

Alcohol Consumption

Drinking excessively leads to a cloudy mind and impaired judgment and is a leading cause of PWC accidents. When you drink copious amounts of alcohol, it will lead you to do things you would never think of doing in your sober state. If you plan to jet ski, consider waiting until after you’re done riding to begin drinking or wait until you are sober if you started drinking earlier on.

Personal Watercraft Accident Statistics

Here are some sobering statistics about personal watercraft accidents from the last year:

  • In 2021, personal watercraft were responsible for:
    • 29 drownings
    • 26 other deaths
    • 55 total deaths
    • 670 injuries
    • 726 total casualties
  • 3 out of every 4 individuals who drowned were operating vessels less than 21 feet long
  • Operator inexperience was the top contributing factor to accidents
  • Alcohol consumption is the leading factor in 16% of deaths on the water

Texas Personal Watercraft Safety Laws

Before operating a personal watercraft, you should know the Texas-specific laws surrounding their use.

  1. All persons operating personal watercraft must have a Personal Floatation Device that fits each child and adult who will ride or drive it.
  2. Personal watercraft must stay 50 feet away from other boats and the shoreline unless the watercraft is idling.
  3. Children under 13 must wear life jackets on vessels under 26 feet long.
  4. There are no speed limits to follow when operating a PWC on the water, but you should exercise common sense. Do not drive so fast that you put others or yourself in danger.
  5. Know where traffic signs, buoys, and markers are located before you operate your PWC.
  6. Open container laws do not apply on PWC, which means you can consume alcoholic beverages while riding or operating your jet ski. However, your blood-alcohol level may not exceed the legal limit for drinking and driving. Those with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more while operating a PWC can be charged with a BWI, fined, arrested, and/or have their driver’s license suspended.
  7. If you get in a water accident, you must report it to the closest law enforcement agency or Texas Parks and Wildlife Department within 30 days. If death, injury, or property damage occurs, you should inform law enforcement within 48 hours

Jet Ski Injuries

Victims of jet ski accidents may experience any number of the following injuries:

  • Whiplash
  • Concussion
    • Headaches
    • Dizziness
    • Fatigue
    • Nausea
    • Confusion
    • Memory loss
    • Loss of consciousness
  • Bruising
  • Lacerations
  • Fractures
  • Sprains

If you or someone you know suffers from a jet ski accident injury caused by someone else’s carelessness, it’s essential to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer can help you obtain compensation for your damages so you can recover and get back to your life.

Protect Your Legal Rights After a Jet Ski Accident

If jet skiing is your hobby, we encourage you to be responsible and pay attention to your surroundings on the water. Now that you know what the leading cause of personal watercraft (PWC) accidents is, you should operate your craft at a reasonable speed and avoid intoxication to protect yourself and others.

If a jet skier in Texas has injured you, you have a right to compensation. The statute of limitations for personal injuries is two years, which means you have two years to sue the party at fault for their negligence in causing the accident. So don’t wait — collecting evidence, documentation, and everything else needed to litigate your case can take a long time.

Get in touch with Lee, Gober & Reyna as soon as possible to get started.