August 1, 2023

Boating Accidents

Learn how to begin a boating accident personal injury or wrongful death case

Contact Mike
Boating Accidents

How Do I Begin a Boating Accident Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Case?

You are here for legal advice about your personal injury or wrongful death case. Mike Burman at Burman Law offers a free consultation to answer your questions. During your consultation - if you are comfortable - Mike will cover these six key steps with you:

  • Preserve important physical evidence so nothing critical is lost
  • Interview witnesses and law enforcement
  • Take custody of photographs and video
  • Impound or take custody of the boat or the contents of the boat
  • Provide you with a free case evaluation so you understand what the case is about
  • Provide you with a plan of action so you understand how the case will be handled

Mike is a death and injury lawyer with 25+ years of experience helping hundreds of accident victims against at-fault commercial operators and careless drivers of all types. Other lawyers often call Mike for advice with their personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits. Once you begin your free case evaluation with Mike, you will know the legal advice is coming from an experienced attorney who wants to help you.

There is never any pressure. Your consultation is always strictly confidential. Mike will provide legal advice, answer all your questions, and explain safe boating and maritime laws, so you know what is important about your case. If you are dealing with an insurance company adjuster, Mike will give you advice based on years of experience.

Mike and the staff at Burman Law understand that starting a personal injury case or wrongful death case from a boating, jet ski or kayak accident can be overwhelming and intimidating. Some cases, such as injuries on cruise ships, involve federal laws.  To help you, the friendly legal team at Burman Law average over 10 years of paralegal experience with personal injury claims and wrongful death claims. Your free access to the Burman Law Client Portal means you stay informed. You can contact us through the portal, by phone, by text, or by email. If you contact us on a workday, we almost always can respond to you that day.

You can schedule a consultation with Mike by clicking:

For the legal process to work, several steps in a boating accident claim must be addressed quickly, especially the preservation of evidence and the location of witnesses against the at-fault party. Boating accidents are often not documented as well as car accidents.  The accident report or police accident report needs to be checked for accuracy. Medical treatment by specialized medical professionals familiar with boating accident injuries should begin. Medical bills and lost wages should be submitted to insurance for payment.

According to, the U.S. Coast Guard puts together the yearly statistics for reported recreational boating accidents. In 2021, the top 5 causes of boating accidents were collision with recreational vessels, boat crashes with a fixed object, flooding/swamping, grounding, and someone falling overboard. There were 1226 boating accidents involving a collision with a recreational vehicle, and out of these boating accident victims, 740 involved injuries that needed medical attention or first aid, and 31 involved death. Open motorboats are ranked as number one for the type of boat with the most fatalities. The number one common cause of death in a boating accident is drowning, with there being a total of 489 deaths reported in 2021, and out of these deaths 399 did not have a life jacket on which is a legally required safety equipment device that should be worn by all passengers on the boat. Inattention and inexperience are two big causes of boating accidents. It is important to teach boating safety so that all passengers on the boat know to stay safe. If you decide we will be your boating accident attorney, our legal team will help you:

  • plan for medical expenses not paid by insurance
  • plan for lost income and time off from work
  • calendar the statute of limitations under state law so you do not miss any time limits
  • answer all the FAQs, as well as the questions unique to your case
  • meet with surviving family members and explain the legal process
  • fill out the necessary paperwork for your insurance policy or insurance claim
  • provide advice on your property damage claim for vehicle repairs or total loss or the replacement value
  • lay the foundation for you to receive a fair settlement amount without the expense and delay of a boating accident lawsuit


We handle every type of boating vehicle crash or accident where the at-fault driver has failed to meet their duty. We handle accidents and cases involving punitive damages and non-economic damages for pain and suffering. We handle or assist with probate matters involving a decedent in wrongful death lawsuit. We hand loss of consortium cases for the loss of a spouse or minor child. Our experience ranges from semi-trucks and trailers to farm vehicles. Our case values range from tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. We can practice in all federal or state courts throughout Kentucky and Tennessee.  Burman Law is a boating accident attorney with offices in Hopkinsville, Kentucky and Clarksville, Tennessee to better serve you.   We handle boating accident cases for personal injury or wrongful death on Kentucky Lake, Barkley Lake, the Cumberland River, the Ohio River and The Tennessee River.


Every boat owner has a duty to exercise care for the safety of other persons around them. Once the attorney-client relationship is established with us, we investigate and prove fault by drivers who:

  • Fail to maintain a safe distance
  • Fail to slow to a safe speed or continually use excessive speed
  • Fail to allow time for safe clearance
  • Fail to obey water traffic signals or other boating laws
  • Fail to keep a proper lookout for other boaters
  • Fail to pay attention, especially at night or during inclement weather
  • Fail to perceive a dangerous condition or immediate hazard
  • Fail to drive free of impairment by drugs or alcohol
  • Fail to stop operating a cell phone while operating a boat


Boating accident personal injury cases and death cases require quick attention from an experienced personal injury law firm. Mike Burman is a personal injury attorney with the staff and financial resources needed to take on any insurance company.  As your boating accident lawyer, Mike Burman and his law firm will work quickly to:

  • Understand the mechanism of injury causing pain and suffering or death
  • Look for hard-to-find injuries, such as brain injuries or labral tears in the hip
  • Preserve evidence that could be washed away, destroyed, or lost
  • Study traffic patterns and traffic
  • Search for CCTv video/audio, ring doorbell cameras, police videos, and business cameras
  • Locate and interview witnesses
  • Engage experts in accident reconstruction to uncover critical facts
  • Download the “black box” speed and distance computer on the “at-fault” boat
  • Impound the at-fault vehicle and preserve the boat

In every personal injury case or wrongful death case, we investigate and preserve evidence. We locate and contact all available witnesses. We notify all necessary parties and insurance companies, notify all lienholders, gather and protect evidence and damages,  prepare a settlement demand, negotiate a boating vehicle accident settlement, resolve liens, and distribute a fair settlement to you. Boating injury and death cases require quick attention from an experienced personal injury law firm. Mike Burman is a personal injury attorney with the staff and financial resources needed to take on any insurance company.  As your boating accident lawyer, Mike Burman and his law firm will work quickly to answer all your questions and learn about your injuries-including those hard-to-find injuries that are oftentimes overlooked, such as brain injuries or labral tears in the hip.

Once evidence from the scene is secure, we use information technologies to transform this evidence into a visual representation of your boating vehicle crash to prove the harms and losses behind your serious injuries. Our in-house media service prepares professional digital charts, blowups, and videos while keeping costs under control. Our goal is to communicate your case so that anyone can “be sure” what happened and “understand” what should be done to right the wrong done to you. We work to provide the insurance adjuster with a thorough evaluation of your case so you achieve a full and fair out-of-court settlement.  But if you must file suit, Burman Law will help prepare your case for trial.  At trial, we will visualize your case to the jury, so the jury understands exactly what happened to you, and how your life changed. In this way, the jury has the power to right the wrong done to you.


Insurance companies and insurance adjusters use several tactics to deny claims and pay less than the value of the claim.  Some of the most common we see are:

  • Blaming accident victims for their own injuries
  • Reducing the value of the case by misinterpreting medical records
  • Denying the injuries are related to the boating accident
  • Making low settlement offers for pre-existing or age-related factors
  • Delaying claims as long as possible until you must take a low settlement offer
  • Making lowball settlement offers to reduce the amount you think is reasonable
  • Telling injury victims they do not need to hire a lawyer


We are paid on a contingency fee basis, which means we earn a percentage of the money recovered in your case.  Many personal injury lawyers now charge a fee of 40% to begin your case.  Our fee has been one-third for more than twenty-five plus years.  We do not spend time or money on expensive television ads, and we pass that savings on to you.  There are no hidden disclaimers.  We are transparent at all times.

With our free consultation and case evaluation services, you can confidentially discuss your boating case with me, Mike Burman, at no charge.  Mike will help you understand your rights and give you a plan of action.  There is never any pressure.  We put all fees and case expenses in writing.  We will set you up with access to a free client portal so you can post anything you want 24/7/365.  We respond to portal messages by the next business day, or sooner.   And you can always contact Mike on his personal cell phone number which he will give you when you hire him to be your boating accident attorney.  Burman Law staff average ten years of paralegal experience.  Mike has more than 25+ years of experience in personal injury and wrongful death involving boating and vehicle safety in Kentucky and Tennessee.

We would be honored to help you or your loved ones. You can schedule a consultation with Mike by clicking:



(1) A personal watercraft may be used to tow individuals engaged in waterskiing or similar activities if it has adequate seating capacity and an observer on board to monitor the progress of the person being towed, or if it is equipped with a rearview mirror with a minimum field of vision of one hundred sixty (160) degrees mounted so that the operator can observe the activities of the person being towed.

(2) A person shall not operate a personal watercraft on public waters unless every individual operating or riding on the personal watercraft is wearing a personal flotation device that is approved by the United States Coast Guard under 46 C.F.R. sec. 160, as it may be amended or renumbered.

(3) A personal watercraft that does not have self-circling capability shall not be operated on public waters unless:(a) The personal watercraft is equipped with a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch; and(b) The lanyard is attached to the person, clothing, or personal flotation device of the operator.

(4) A vessel operated on public waters shall be operated at all times according to the provisions of this chapter and the administrative regulations promulgated hereunder. A vessel shall be operated at all times in a reasonable and prudent manner so as not to endanger human life, human physical safety, or property. A person shall not do any of the following while operating a vessel on public waters:

(a) Weave through congested watercraft traffic in a way that endangers human life, human physical safety, or property;

(b) Follow a watercraft that is towing an individual on water skis, a surfboard, or a water sport device in a way that endangers human life, human physical safety, or property;

(c) Jump the wake of another watercraft in a way that endangers human life, human physical safety, or property;

(d) Cut between a boat and the individual or individuals being towed by the boat;

(e) Cross paths with another watercraft when visibility around the other watercraft is so obstructed as to endanger human life, human physical safety, or property; or

(f) Steer a personal watercraft or motorboat toward an object or individual in the water and turn sharply at close range in a way that endangers human life, human physical safety, or property.

(5) A person shall not operate a personal watercraft on public waters at any time between sunset and the following sunrise.

(6) A person shall not operate a vessel within fifty (50) feet of a commercial motor vessel and its tow which is in operation on a waterway, except if the operator of the commercial motor vessel has given his or her consent.

(a) A person under twelve (12) years of age shall not operate a personal watercraft or motorboat over ten (10) horsepower on the public waters of the Commonwealth.

(b) Effective January 1, 1999, a person twelve (12) years of age through seventeen (17) years of age shall not operate a personal watercraft or motorboat over ten (10) horsepower on the public waters of the Commonwealth unless the person is in possession of a safe boating certificate or is accompanied, on board, by a person eighteen (18) years of age or older or in possession of a safe boating certificate.

(c) While operating a motorboat or a personal watercraft over ten (10) horsepower on the public waters of the Commonwealth, nonresidents twelve (12) years of age through seventeen (17) years of age shall have in their possession a Kentucky safe boating certificate or a recognized and equivalent boat operator licensing or safe boating certificate from another state or country.

(8) Subsections (1) to (6) of this section shall not apply to:
(a) A performer engaged in a professional exhibition; or

(b) A person participating in a regatta, a race, a marine parade, a tournament, or an exhibit that is held in compliance with administrative regulations adopted by the department.

(9) The parent, legal guardian, or other adult who has direct supervision over a minor under the age of eighteen (18) shall not knowingly authorize or permit the minor to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft in violation of this section.

KY Rev. Stat. 235.285 Personal watercraft - Use for towing - Prohibitions on use without personal flotation device or self-circling capability - General prohibitions of vessel operation - Exceptions - Supervision of minors (Kentucky Revised Statutes (2022 Edition))


(a) A personal watercraft shall at all times be operated on the waters of Tennessee in a reasonable and prudent manner. Maneuvers that endanger life, limb, or property, or create a public nuisance shall constitute reckless operation of a vessel as provided in §69-9-216(a) and shall be punished upon conviction as provided in §69-9-219. These acts shall include, but not be limited to:

(1) Weaving through congested vessel traffic at high speed;

(2) Following within the wake, and closely behind, a vessel towing a person or persons on water skis or other water sport devices;

(3) Cutting between a boat and the person or persons being towed by that boat;

(4) Crossing in close proximity to the stern of another vessel or when visibility around the other vessel is obstructed;

(5) Steering a vessel toward any object or person in the water and turning sharply at close range so as to spray the object or person; and

(6) Jumping the wake of another vessel within one hundred feet (100²) of that vessel.

(b) If the operator of a vessel feels that the operation of a personal watercraft is creating a hazard to that vessel or a person being towed by that vessel, they shall exhibit an orange flag and wave it in such a manner to signal the operator of the personal watercraft to steer away, or to take such action that will end the hazard. The flag shall be no less than twelve inches (12³) by twelve inches (12³) in size.

Tenn. Code 69-9-504 Safe operating requirements - Prohibited maneuvers - Warning flags (Tennessee Code (2022 Edition))

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