Jet skis, which are very popular personal watercrafts (PWC) were introduced during the late 1960s. Personal watercraft vessels, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, are less than 13 feet long and designed to be operated by one or more person sitting, standing or kneeling on the craft instead of being inside the confines of a hull.
Affordable, easy to use, and with low maintenance costs, the production of jet skis in the United States immediately increased due to the significant rise in the number of water-based enthusiasts, especially those who “fell in love” with their use. This increased use, however, also resulted to a rise in the number of hazards and, besides accidents involving under-trained, underage and undereducated jet skiers, the U.S. Coast Guard also cites inattention, excessive speed, alcohol consumption, reckless operation and violations of the “Rules of the Road” (contributory factors in boating accidents) to be the same factors that contribute to jet ski accidents. Currently, accidents involving jet skis, yachts, kayaks, sailboats, canoes and other recreational boats, are the second largest transportation-related causes of injury in the U.S. (the first is still automobile accidents).
Currently, the more famous jet skis owned by an estimated 1.3 million Americans and used by more than 85 million others are Kawasaki’s Jet Ski and Yamaha Motor Company’s WaveRunner. Kawasaki’s “stand-up” jet ski that is designed for a single operator was introduced in 1973: it had a tray where the operator could kneel or stand). The same manufacturer’s “sit-down” model, which allowed the operator to sit, was introduced in the late 1980s; this model had a seat that was similar to a motorcycle or snowmobile seat.
While each state has its own rules for operating a jet ski, the basic rules only include proving that one is at least 16 years old, attending (even inattentively or yawning through) a very short boilerplate safety lesson, and paying a rent fee of $95 per hour. For jet ski owners, however, enforcing the regulations constitutes a very slim chance.
Because it is smaller in size than a real boat, many mistakenly consider a jet ski more of a dinghy. The fact, however, is that the United States Coast Guard (USCG) considers a jet ski a vessel and, thus, subjects it to very same rules and regulations as a 40-foot power cruiser. Researchers from the University of Florida even found out that accidents involving this vessel registers more serious injuries than other boating mishaps. These injuries include serious trauma to the chest and abdominal areas, closed head injuries, and death.
As clearly stated by personal injury lawyers of the Clawson Staubes Injury Group, jet skis present an excellent opportunity for fun on the water, but serious injury can result when they are operated by someone who fails to exercise good judgment or follow the law and, alarmingly, many do fail to exercise good judgment and follow the law. In the event of a jet ski accident, it would be really wise to have a seasoned boating accident lawyer by your side.