Every summer boating accidents are reported on the waterways of Virginia and North Carolina. On occasions, lives are lost. Jet skis (also known as personal watercraft) usually figure prominently in the crash reports.
Jet skis are sought out by adrenaline-seekers. They ride the waves at 60-mph plus and can make fast turns. However, a spate of accidents resulted in warnings about the many dangers posed by personal watercraft while some commentators have questioned whether jet skis are inherently dangerous by design.
A few years ago, an investigation on Fox News warned jet skis were sending riders and anyone who got in their way to the morgue. The report followed the tragic accident that killed the 11-year-old stepson of R&B star Usher. Kile Glover sustained serious brain injuries when he was run over by a personal watercraft on Lake Lanier, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He was later taken off life support. In Florida, retired astronaut Captain Alan G Poindexter died after his son crashed into his jet ski while he was rising another jet ski.
As experienced Virginia Beach injury lawyers we are concerned about the ongoing series of fatal and serious accidents involving jet skis. These accidents raise troubling questions about jet ski safety. Critics say it’s too easy to get on a jet ski and start riding with no training or safety credentials. According to the U.S Coast Guard, about 40 people are killed every year and hundreds are injured in jet ski accidents.
Fox spoke to Kristin Beale, of Richmond, Virginia. Beale endured years of physical therapy after a serious Jet Ski accident in 2005 on Lake Gaston in North Carolina. A jet ski rider hi Beale when she was out on her personal watercraft. Mark Brennan, her close friend, died in the accident and Beale, who was then 15, suffered traumatic injuries to her brain and spinal cord. Beale called for a separate license requirement for jet skis and a minimum age for operators. Brennan was just 16-year-old when he lost his life on a jet ski.
A report by In Motion magazine questioned the design of jet skis and suggested this may be contributing to the deaths and injuries on the water. The National Transportation Safety Board criticized the basic design of all personal watercraft, highlighting basic flaws in a report released as long ago as the late 1990s. Tom Ebro, president of Aquatic Risk Management in Florida told In Motion: “Personal watercraft have no braking mechanism. They coast to a stop, and while coasting, there is no turning ability. What makes personal watercraft so ultra-dangerous is the fact that it will not steer when you suddenly have a surprise and let off the throttle.”
Unlike most vessels, jet skis lack a rudder. When the throttle is turned off, a speeding jet ski is like a car on ice. It is difficult to control meaning the rider may struggle to avoid other vessels, children in the water, or obstacles.
The same article made reference to product liability lawsuits against the manufacturers of jet skis. It suggested makers of jet skis are shelling out millions of dollars in out-of-court settlements but seeking to hush up the extent of the problem. Ebro said litigation was taking place on a larger scale than realized and the jet ski manufacturers are failing to comply with basic standards.
Jet ski accidents are not confined to the open water. In 2014, a woman was injured in Virginia Beach when a jet ski exploded in the dock and sent her 15 foot into the air.
If you have been injured in a personal watercraft accident or lost a loved one, please call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at (757) 455-0077 to schedule your free consultation. We are availble to take your call 24/7/365.