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boats on a cold lake with snow in the backgroundMore states than ever before are experiencing cold winter months. While our neighbors in the north may be used to cold winters and feet of snow, those of us in North Carolina are more used to mild winters and tolerable temperatures. Whether you are staying at home this holiday season or heading up toward the Great Lakes, you may be planning on spending some of your time on the water.

While boating accidents can occur at any time of year, those that occur when the water temperatures drop can be especially dangerous. Being immersed in cold water, even for a short time, can put your at risk for hypothermia and, in the most severe cases, death. Here are some cold-weather boating tips to keep in mind before you head out.

1. Dress for the Water

You aren’t necessarily planning on entering the water of your own accord, but you could end up getting wet anyway. The acceptable rule if to dress for the temperature of the water, not the temperature of the air. Dress in multiple layers, making your base layer designed of fabric that wicks moisture away from your skin. Pack an extra set of clothing in a waterproof bag so you can change into something dry if you need to.

2. Eat and Drink

If you hope to maintain your internal temperature, you’ve got to keep your body fueled. Pack snacks that contain a fair amount of protein and pack at least a liter of water. It would also be a good idea to make coffee, tea or cocoa and put it in a thermos so you have something hot to drink.

3. Life Jacket

You must always have a life jacket on when you are in a boat. That said, it’s not a good idea to throw the first life jacket you see on if you don’t have your own. If you are a guest on someone’s boat, try on several available life jackets to find one that fits appropriately. If you do have multiple layers of clothing on, you’ll want to adjust straps accordingly.

4. Understand the Dangers

Even if you practice safety, you can still be involved in an accident. You need to understand how cold water can affect the body and the dangers it poses. Hypothermia will set in within 30 minutes of being submerged in the water. You will lose muscle coordination and find it impossible to swim. It will be more difficult to breathe and you may find your mental function inhibited. If someone falls overboard into the cold water, get them back into the boat as quickly as possible, dried off and into warm clothing.

If you are involved in a boating accident in North Carolina due to someone’s actions or negligence, you may have a case for compensation. Call our attorneys today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation and discover more about your legal options. Reach out to our office today or browse our website for more information about our firm and the types of cases we handle.

It’s the time of year when people will be taking to the water with more regularity. Most people are aware that drinking and boating are both dangerous and illegal, but their are myths surrounding drinking while on the water that should be dispelled. Knowing that the behavior is dangerous is not enough.

1. Drinking and Boating Is Safer than Drinking and Driving

There is a common misconception that being drunk behind the wheel of a boat is not as dangerous as being behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated. The truth is that drinking and boating is at least as dangerous, if not slightly more, than operating a boat while intoxicated. The water is not marked by lanes, there are no street lights, and there are no signs. This can make it even more difficult to navigate when intoxicated.

2. Boats Are Meant for a Good Time

Boats have a reputation of being “toys.” They are made for a party. After all, you can simply anchor the boat, drink as much as you like and be perfectly safe. This is incorrect. A boat is a vehicle, it is anything but a toy.

3. It’s Hard to Get Caught

Sure, there are police on the side of the road waiting for drunk drivers, but you are in the clear on the water. This is false. Law enforcement has been cracking down in recent years, looking for those who may be operating their vessels while under the influence. If you think that you can drink and operate a boat without repercussion, you are incorrect.

4. Drinking and Boating Only Counts if There Is a Motor

You can be charged with boating under the influence in a vessel whether or not it has a motor. Boating under the influence pertains to any type of vessel, from canoes to kayaks and fishing boats to luxury yachts.

5. BUI Means You Drank Alcohol

Boating under the influence does not only mean that you have had an alcoholic beverage. You can also be charged with boating under the influence if you are found to have anything in your system that inhibits your ability to operate your boat safely. From prescription medication to illegal narcotics, if you are under the influence of any substance, you could be charged.

Boating under the influence is dangerous. When you choose to operate a boat after consuming any intoxicating substance, you are putting not only yourself, but others on the water, at risk. Your safest course of action is to only operate a boat if you are sober.

If you are involved in a boating accident in North Carolina, call our office. Our experienced team of boat accident attorneys will review your case at no cost and advise you of your legal options. Call now to schedule your consultation.

Boating is a popular pastime in North Carolina and other coastal states. When safety is taken into consideration, boating can be a fantastic way to spend a summer afternoon. Unfortunately, accidents occur when people are distracted or otherwise engaged, and wonderful days enjoying the beautiful weather can quickly turn to tragedy. It can pay to know why boating accidents happen. Here are the four most common causes.

1. Lack of Operating Expertise

It is never a good idea to take chances with your boat, whether you are carrying passengers or not. The water tends to be busiest during summer, and not every boat captain has the experience to navigate the crowds. Always operate the boat defensively, assuming that those around you only get out on the water occasionally. If it is you that only sails now and again, pay close attention to what you are doing, avoiding distractions whenever you can.

2. Bad Weather

Always watch weather reports before you head out on the water for the day. Do not rely on the reports you saw last week or even yesterday. Many boaters have found themselves in trouble because of unexpected changes in the weather.

3. Speeding and Alcohol Use

Speeding in a boat can have just as dire consequences as speeding in a car. The same can be said for drinking and driving. In fact, drinking and boating can be even more dangerous. The soothing effects of the waves and the beating down of the sun can make the amount of alcohol it takes for you to become impaired even less.

4. Equipment Failure

You can’t always predict hen something on your boat will fail, but you will have a better idea if you perform routine maintenance. Additionally, perform a safety check before you go out each and every time. Make sure that all of the boat’s parts are in working order, and be sure to have safety equipment stashed on board.

Not every boating accident can be prevented, but those attributed to human causes certainly can. Take care to operate your boat safely and be sure that it is regularly maintained.

If you are involved in a boating accident in North Carolina, you may be entitled to compensation for property damage and injuries. Call our team of attorneys today for a free case evaluation. We will advise you of your options and assist you as you move forward. Call now.

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Summertime may not be officially here, but very few are still thinking “spring.” Now that the days are heating up, you and your family are looking for ways to cool off. Fortunately, there are great lakes in North Carolina that are only a few hours’ drive away no matter where you live. Here are five of the best lakes in and around the state.

1. Lake Lure

Just 90 miles from Charlotte, Lake Lure is most famous as the setting for Dirty Dancing. Drop your romantic notions and get your mind in adventure mode. When you visit this fabulous location, you have access to rock climbing, traveling on zip lines and horseback riding. If you are looking for an afternoon that is a bit more on the relaxing side, sit down in a tube and float lazily down the river.

2. Lake James

A similar distance from Charlotte as Lake Lure, Lake James is equally as exciting if a bit more sedate. The tranquil setting is a must-see for nature lovers. Take a trip down the river by boat, pontoon, canoe or kayak and take in all that the wilderness has to offer. The wilderness area covers more than 3,000 acres and is nothing short of amazing.

3. Lake Rabun

You will find Lake Rabun in Geogia, just a 3 hour drive from Charlotte. You may think that you don’t want to drive that far, but once you get to the lake you will wonder why you’ve never been there before. You will be able to take part in all of the typical lake activities, but nearby attractions are what make this lake worth the trip. Farmers’ markets, an artist retreat and Tiger Mountain Vineyards shouldn’t be missed.

4. Lake Oconee

Also in Georgia, this lake provides a sort of laid back luxury that is hard to find elsewhere. This lake is more vacation than day trip and features a spa, golf courses and nearby towns with quaint shops and eateries. Lake Oconee is the perfect spot if you are looking for a weekend getaway with your significant other or a pampering vacation for one.

5. Lake Norman

This lake is massive and only 30 minutes from Charlotte. With a 520-mile shoreline, you will feel like you’ve traveled far from home and entered another world. The lake does have a reputation for parties and powerboats, but don’t let that put you off. There are a variety of activities that are suited to those just looking to spend a day unwinding by the water.

Everyone needs to get away now and again, and those living in North Carolina have an amazing opportunity to do so. The choice of lakes withing a few hours’ drive ensure that you never have to spend a weekend at home unless you choose to do so.

Please remember to stay safe while you are on the water. If you happen to be involved in a boat accident in Charlotte, please call our accident attorneys. We will review the details of your accident at no cost to you and advise you of your options.

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It is rare, but it does make news. A person falls overboard and is struck by a propeller of a boat. While these stories are tragic, they also serve as a reminder of the danger of these types of accidents.

Here are some interesting facts: The average spinning propeller can strike your body 160 times in one second. It takes the average recreational propeller less than one tenth of a second to travel the length of your body. Perhaps the most important fact of all is that propeller accidents are avoidable.

Protect Yourself

  1. Always wear your life jacket along with your boat’s engine cut-off switch lanyard. If you fall and the lanyard is pulled from the switch, the boat’s engine shuts off.
  2. If people are in the water, make sure there is someone keeping an eye on the propeller at all times.
  3. Purchase safety devices made specifically for propellers.

Safety Tips

  1. Always walk the length of your boat and check around it to make sure no one is in the water nearby when you start the engine. If there are people in the water, kindly let them know that you plan on starting your boat.
  2. Your engine should be turned off completely before you allow people to enter or exit your vessel.
  3. Make sure that each person aboard your boat knows exactly where the propeller is located.
  4. Do not allow anyone to sit anywhere on your boat where there is a danger of falling overboard.
  5. Never operate your boat in swimming zones. Be especially vigilant when you are boating in congested areas.
  6. If someone does fall overboard, stop the engine immediately. Your boat’s momentum alone will give you enough power to turn around and move toward the person for a rescue.

Propellers are dangerous mechanisms. Always be aware of each person on your boat and if someone should fall overboard, take the proper precautions before attempting a rescue. Understanding propeller safety will help to ensure that everyone gets back to shore without injury.

If you have been hurt in a boating accident, call our offices today. Our professional personal injury attorneys are here for you. We will provide you with a free case evaluation and advise you how to best proceed. Call now.

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Inland waterways have their own pleasures but also present unique challenges. This is especially true for larger vessels. When you choose inland waterways, you put yourself in the position to have to navigate drawbridges of varying sizes and clearances. If you decide to stay inland, you will need to know how to deal with bridges, especially at night.

Take a look at nautical charts to find out where bridges are. The charts will also give you horizontal and vertical clearances. You will be most concerned with the vertical ones. In other words, you will want to know if your boat is going to fit under the bridge or will you have to have it opened.

A good thing to know is that the charts tell you the vertical clearance at mean high water. This means at high tide. If you are traveling under them at any other time, you have even more room to get under them. Another good tip: Always know the height of your boat and pay attention to clearance signs. If you open a bridge unnecessarily, you could be fined.

You should also know that it is illegal to have the bridge opened because of nonstructural vessel appurtenance. In plain English, if you have antennas or outriggers that make your boat too tall to pass under a bridge, take them down and go under the bridge normally. As you approach the bridge, look for a sign that tells you what radio frequencies the bridge monitors. It is customary to use your VHF radio to request that the bridge be opened.

On the bridge you will see a white sign. That sign will tell you the hours of operation and any special procedures that are followed. Some bridges will open at request, while some open according to a pre-determined schedule. Other signs on the bridge may include speed limits and other warnings. Keep your eyes open for this information.

When crossing under a bridge at night, follow the red lights. There will be one on either side of the bridge and one that hangs down from the span. Line up with the center light and keep the lower lights equidistant. You will pass through without a problem.

Navigating bridges isn’t difficult, but it is something you need to know how to do. Making a mistake can cause you to be fined or, worse, an accident. Stay sharp on the water and know what you will be forced to navigate.

If you have been injured in a boating accident, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys today. We will provide you with a free case evaluation and help you start putting the pieces of your life back together. Call now.

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Knowing how to dock your boat correctly is an important safety tip that not many people think about. It’s not unusual for boaters to attempt to dock their boats, only to crash into a pier or another vessel. While we can’t provide an entire how-to manual for boat docking, we can offer you a few tips that will keep you and everyone on board safe and sound.

  1. Pay Attention to the Angle

When you decide it is time to pull into a dock, come in at an angle. This gives you a bit more breathing room and prevents scraping your boat down the side of the dock. It is an approach that is easier than coming straight in.

  1. Coast and Power

Some people think that coasting into the dock is best. It makes sense because coasting allows you to approach at a slower rate of speed. Unfortunately, much of your boat’s power steering will be lost once you cut the engine. This can make it difficult to approach the dock correctly. A better idea is to put the boat in idle and retain your ability to steer.

When you must put your boat in neutral because even idle is too fast, give the boat a shot of power, steer onto course, and then coast in. You won’t have the same accuracy as if you had remained in gear, but it can be a good trade off.

  1. Know When to Turn

Knowing when to turn will greatly depend on your boat. Not all boats maneuver the same, and it may take you a few tries to pin down the nuances of your vessel. Keep in mind that momentum will keep your boat in motion, even when you put it in reverse.

  1. Walking

Propellers thrust more on one side than on the other. This is common, and the effect can be even stronger in reverse. This is called walking. When you first put your boat in reverse, the stern may try to go sideways instead of backwards. You won’t need as much turning momentum if this is the case with your vessel.

Please understand that conditions can affect the way that your boat glides into a slip. What we are talking about here is docking in calm conditions. Docking, like parallel parking in a vehicle, takes practice. The more often you steer into a dock, the better your skills will become.

If you have been injured in a boating accident, our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is here for you. Call today for a free case evaluation. We want to help you put your life back together.

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A forum was held in Florida recently. The topic? Boat safety. It makes sense that Floridians are concerned with boating safety, as the state has 1,197 miles of coastline. In addition to ocean waters, Florida is home to more than 11,000 miles of lakes, streams and rivers. As people turn to these waters in record numbers, boating safety is a hot topic.

People in North Carolina should sit up and take notice of this forum. With miles of our own coastline, boating has become increasingly popular in recent years. Not only do we have boaters who live right down the road, but we have tourists who flock to our waters to enjoy vacations and weekend getaways. Safe boating should be important to any person in any state with access to water.

Let’s take a brief look at what was discussed at this recent meeting that was attended by legislators, law enforcement officers, and citizens alike.

One of the biggest concerns is a lack of staffing in law enforcement agencies. This is an issue across the country. There is simply too great an amount of water to patrol effectively. Law enforcement officials urge anyone who will be spending time in the water to know how to swim.

Age Limits
Law enforcement officials want to be sure that no one under the age of 16 is permitted in a boat without an adult present. Any minor who will be going out in a boat should be required to fill out a form. This would give officials a record of children on the water alone.

Boating Licenses
Another suggestion was to have separate boating licenses for lakes and the ocean. Driving on each is a very different experience, and separate licenses would require separate and specific training courses.

One thing that was agreed upon is that the focus does not need to be on new legislation. Instead, monies should be put towards education and funding for law enforcement. Boating safety courses, safety equipment giveaways, and routinely updated safety information were also discussed.

If there is any certainty, it is that today’s boats are faster and more powerful. They are also being enjoyed by more people than ever before. When it comes to safe boating, no forum or piece of legislation is going to give people a dose of what is really needed: common sense.

It is your responsibility to operate your boat safely. Use your head when you are behind the wheel. Drive slowly, operate your vessel according to current conditions, and outfit your boat with safety equipment. When every boater acts responsibly, accidents are greatly reduced.

If you have been injured in a boating accident, reach out to our personal injury attorneys today. We are here for you and will review your case at no cost to you. Call us now.

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You pulled out of port, intent on a tranquil day sailing the high sea. What you ran into was anything but. Every skipper must understand that they may run into unexpectedly rough waters. Whether from a mild rain storm or a hurricane, choppy waters are common enough that a good boater knows how to handle them.

Remember that your safety and the safety of those aboard your vessel is solely up to you. Knowing how to handle any kind of water you run into is important. So…what do you do when the calm seas turn to rough waters? Read on.

Head Seas
When waves are coming straight at you, you may be able to meet them head on. When waves are moderate, slow your boat and ride over the waves. What you want to avoid is driving down into them, or falling off the top of a wave. If you are unable to safely ride over the waves, slow and angle your boat at a 45-degree angle to the swells.

The Trough
If the way you are heading force you parallel to the waves, be cautious. You boat will bounce up and down, and you may lose control. Do your best to change course, and aim your boat at a 45-degree angle toward the waves. Move your boat broad on the bow and then run in broad on the quarter. Doing this forms a sort of zig-zag pattern that keeps you out of the worst of danger.

Running Away
When waves are behind you and pushing you forward, being swept away is your concern. Experts suggest that in this situation, you may do best to tow a drogue. This will slow your vessel and help you control the stern.

Heave To
In violent conditions, you may have no choice but to heave to. You will keep the bow slightly off of the wind and waves. Use enough power that you can make bare steerage while wasting as little fuel as possible.

Knowing the intricacies of your boat is another responsibility. Every boat reacts differently in rough waters, and each vessel responds differently to your steerage. Get to know your boat and, if at all possible, avoid severe weather. If you do not know what to do when the waves are beating against your bow, you can take a class for weather handling techniques. Knowing what to do can help make sure you and your guests make it back to port.

If you have been injured in a boating accident, call our experienced team of personal injury attorneys today. We will fight by your side in court to get you the compensation you may be entitled to by law. Call now.

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Cruises are popular vacations. The ability to float about the ocean in a vessel that amounts to its own city is exhilarating, and it is the holiday of choice for many Americans. When a cruise ship is involved in an accident or has a mass illness on board, it always makes news. But what really happens when someone falls overboard, and how common is it? Not as common as you may think.

According to statistics, there were only 245 reported “man overboards” in the last 10 years. Of those, most were not accidental slips and falls. The majority of these people were not following safety protocols or were pushed overboard, either accidentally or intentionally.

To prevent these falls, cruise lines have safety features in place. There are minimum railing heights, minimum balcony heights, and barriers that are built onto decks to prevent anyone fooling around from falling off. No matter how many safety protocols are in place, some people will act recklessly, especially when there is alcohol involved. Should you take a cruise and find yourself treading water in the ocean, here is what will happen:

  1. The captain of the ship will be notified as soon as the incident is known.
  2. Sailors on the cruise are sent to the nearest deck to quickly assess the situation.
  3. The ship will be slowed down and, in almost all cases, turned around.
  4. The nearest local authorities are notified.
  5. Lifeboats are deployed to search for the party.

The issue is rarely how fast people act or how quickly rescue boats can move. It is the time that it takes a large cruise ship to slow and turn, and how fast people notice that you have gone missing.

When you take a cruise, your safety is your responsibility. If you consume alcohol, do your best to behave appropriately. If you want to have a good time, don’t do it on the deck. Do not put yourself in a situation where you could fall overboard. While most people are found, some are not…you don’t want to be the one who isn’t.

If you have been involved in a boating accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and monetary losses. Call our expert team of personal injury attorneys today for a free case evaluation. We will tell you the best way to proceed and, if appropriate, will fight by your side in court. Call now.

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