Brianna’s Law – named after an 11-year-old girl killed in a 2005 boating accident – took effect on the first day of 2020. The tragedy was considered entirely preventable had the operator possessed the most basic knowledge of boating safety.
Boating accidents can take many forms. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security reports that the five most common include:
- Crashes with another recreational watercraft
- Collisions with an object, most commonly a dock
- Flooding or swamping
- Passengers falling overboard
The certification process
In addition to requiring the dissemination of valuable, potentially life-saving information, the law requires boaters to complete a boating safety course approved by the state and to be certified in motorized watercraft operation via a safety course. During the five-year rollout, certain age groups will also be added that will be mandated to have a boater card in their possession while on the water.
- Born after January 1, 1993 – Boaters should already have boating safety certification as of 2020
- Born after January 1, 1988, requires boating safety certification by 2022
- Born after January 1, 1983 mandates boating safety certification by 2023
- Born after January 1, 1978, must have boating safety certification by 2025
- Operators of all ages have until January 1, 2025, to secure boating safety certification
The consequences for not pursuing certification are severe, particularly for those who find themselves involved in an accident.
Boating accidents are both a nationwide and a local problem. We, in Western New York, are blessed with an abundance of recreational waterways, which are well used during our warm weather months.
Whether collisions occur on the Niagara River, Lake Erie, Chautauqua or the Finger Lakes, the risks are the same and can lead to life-changing, if not life-ending, tragedies. Victims of these crashes and their family members can learn their legal options by consulting with a qualified personal injury law firm with experience in boating accident cases.