Water Collision Causes Permanent Brain Injuries

Brain injury caused by open water collision

The Law and You

It was a beautiful summer afternoon on the Blue River Reservoir in the foothills of Oregon’s Cascades. The Smiths* had planned a great day on their powerboat, pulling friends on a kneeboard. On another part of the reservoir, John* was looking forward to a quiet day of fishing on his inflatable fishing raft.

Within seconds, the great day turned into a disastrous one. The Smiths’ powerboat drove over John who suffered serious and painful injuries, some permanent. His injuries required invasive medical procedures, including surgery, to address:

  1. head injury with open skull fracture
  2. brain injury resulting in vertigo, headache, cognitive losses, and permanent partial loss of vision
  3. injury to the neck and right shoulder

John’s brain injuries have caused and will continue to cause him to suffer pain, disability, discomfort, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. He will never again have days with normal and usual activities.

John asked for our help to recover compensation for his injuries and medical bills. No two brain injuries are alike: it takes specialized experience, knowledge and evaluations to determine future needs.

Oregon Laws the Powerboat Driver Violated

The investigation found that Smith had caused the collision, which could have easily been prevented had he not been speeding and had been aware of others on the reservoir.

The Oregon Legislature passes statutes that are compiled in the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS). In addition to the statutes, the Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) is Oregon’s official compilation of agency rules and regulations. An administrative rule is a form of law in Oregon. Some of the statutes and rules are intended to prevent tragedies like this. Every boat operator and their crew needs to be aware of these laws. The specific provisions that Smith appeared to have violated included:

  1. ORS 830.335—Failing to keep a proper lookout at all times while underway.
  2. ORS 830.305—Operating a boat in a manner that endangered or would be likely to endanger any person.
  3. ORS 830.315(1)—Operating a boat carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of others.
  4. ORS 830.315(2)—Operating a boat at a rate of speed greater than would permit him in the exercise of reasonable care to stop the boat within the assured clear distance ahead.
  5. ORS 830.365(5) —Operating a boat while towing a person on a kneeboard, without a person in addition to him in a position to continuously observe the person being towed.
  6. OAR 250-011-0005(1)—Failing to maintain a proper lookout by sight, hearing or other means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the risk of collision.
  7. OAR 250-011-0005(2)—Failing to operate a boat at a safe speed so that proper and effective action could be taken to avoid the collision, taking in to account the state of visibility, traffic density, maneuverability, stopping distance, and turning ability of the boat in the prevailing conditions.
  8. OAR 250-011-0005(3)—Failing to use all available means appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions to determine if a risk of collision existed.
  9. OAR 250-011-0010(8)(a)(B)—Failing to keep out of the way of a vessel restricted in its ability to maneuver.
  10. (OAR 250-011-0010(8)(a)(C)—Failing to keep out of the way of a vessel engaged in fishing.

If you have any questions about the rules or have been involved in a collision, please contact us.

* Names changed to protect privacy

Related Links

Brain Injury Cases
Anatomy of a Brain Injury Case
Brain Bucket Brigade
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion