Personal Watercraft Accidents & Jet Ski Injuries
Some riders prefer the old-school stand-up jet skis because of their quick handling and maneuverability, while others like the two or three-person PWCs. The three-person models can even pull a water skier! PWC riding and motorcycling are both handlebar sports, with similar thrills.
Traffic is a safety concern for both. On the water you must deal with boats and other PWC riders going in your direction, in the opposite direction, cutting across your path, or circling in place. Motorcyclists have to contend with other vehicles changing lanes, turning in front of them, and crossing the centerline from the opposite direction.
A recent tragic personal watercraft accident at Pensacola Beach, Florida took the life of astronaut Alan Poindexter. Reportedly, he was riding a Yamaha WaveRunner with his adult son, Samuel. They came to a stop in the water and his older son, Zachary, who was riding on another WaveRunner, was unable to stop in time to avoid a collision. Zacharys PWC struck the rear of Navy Captain Poindexters PWC, launched up and struck him in the back. Alan Poindexter was pulled from the water, resuscitated, and flown to Baptist Hospital where he died from his injuries.
PWCs are propelled by jets of water and can only steer effectively when the power is on. When you let go of the throttle turning the handlebars will have little or no effect on its direction of travel. Slowing to a stop can also take a much longer distance than you would expect. Unfortunately, new and inexperienced riders are often shocked when this happens. Sometimes there are tragic results. New PWCs from Sea-Doo incorporate systems that will allow quicker stops and more effective turning under low power conditions. These technologies can potentially save lives.
PWCs are subject to boating rules on all navigable waters. Many riding areas have limitations on where you can ride and how fast because of boaters, water-skiers and swimmers. Most riding areas have designated “no wake” zones where you are not permitted to go fast enough to make a wake.
I have ridden PWCs for many years, on the Colorado River, on inland lakes and in the ocean off the California coast. PWCs are fun because you are riding low enough in the water that you get wet and can cool off from the hot sun. On the river or on the lake, riders typically wear swimwear and water-sport shoes. Flotation vests are required and necessary, just as if you were boating or waterskiing. In the ocean, a wetsuit is recommended in addition to the use of a life jacket.
PWCs are fun and provide great outdoor family recreation. But when something goes wrong, if the PWC fails because of a design defect or a manufacturing defect, or if someone does not follow the rules, is inattentive or unprepared, accidents can happen, resulting in serious injuries or death. Injuries to PWC riders may include chest or head trauma, internal injuries, drowning, burns, hypothermia, spinal cord damage, carbon monoxide poisoning, and broken bones. A study from the Coast Guard in 2002 found that the user of a personal watercraft was 7.2 times more likely to get hurt than a person in a motor boat, and 31.6 times more likely to get hurt than a canoer or a kayaker.
As a California personal injury attorney, I have successfully represented people involved in personal watercraft accidents. If you have been injured by another person while jet skiing, or if a personal watercraft malfunctioned, causing an accident, you may need to file a lawsuit against the individual or the manufacturer of the personal watercraft. If youre in California, call Don Sjaarda, personal watercraft accident attorney and PWC enthusiast, at 714-963-8216.
Related Watercraft Accident Attorney Orange County Articles
I frequently hear of individuals who have been in accidents but who want to settle with the other party privately, without an attorney and without involving insurance. Their reasoning may be based on the faulty assumption that their insurance rates will go up dramatically if they report an accident, even when they are not at 
Many people are aware of the importance of preserving evidence after an accident, even if they dont know thats what the process is called. For example, in the age of cell phones most motorists have the foresight to take pictures at the scene of a car accident. Most people also record the names of witnesses 
Unfortunately, three fatal boating accidents occurred off the coast of California in recent weeks. All three accidents occurred during boat races. First, on March 31, crew members from an Australian yacht on an around-the-world race were injured when a huge wave struck their ship. Fortunately, that accident involved no fatalities. Then, on March 14, strong 
Don Sjaarda, Personal Injury Attorney, is proud to serve the Orange County communities of Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Orange, Tustin, Garden Grove, Westminster, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Los Angeles, San Clemente, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest, Brea, Cypress, Los Alamitos, Yorba Linda, Placentia, Fullerton, Anaheim, Buena Park, Stanton, Midway City as well as Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.