New Hampshire’s numerous lakes and rivers are ideal for boating, and many people enjoy time on the water to fish or simply to enjoy the company of family and friends. Some residents even like to head out to the ocean to see the Atlantic up close. Whether you’re on the big and beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee, heading out on the ocean along the coast, chasing the big, beautiful trout on Lake Sunapee–or on any of the hundreds of other lakes in between–boating accidents leading to injuries or death sadly occur just the same. Victims need immediate medical care to give themselves a chance at recovery, but they also need experienced legal help from lawyers who understand boating and the rules that govern safe piloting. Sabbeth Law fits that mold.

Contact Sabbeth Law today. Our New Hampshire boat accident lawyer can discuss your chances of receiving compensation in a lawsuit against the boat owner or another party.

Types of New Hampshire Boat Accidents

Boating is relatively safe, but accidents can occur. These accidents are often preventable had the operator or owner used greater care.

Running Aground

Boats are not designed to get too close to land. If they do, they can run aground, and passengers can be hurt when they are thrown around inside the boat. There are some common reasons for running aground, such as operator inexperience or poor visibility. Specifically, there are many inexperienced boat drivers on New Hampshire’s lakes and along its coast. An inexperienced operator who hasn’t taken the time to study a waterway’s buoy system is the most likely person to run their boat into shoals or ground. 

Certain types of spar buoys that indicate these types of danger can change in color and shape from state to state. So a boater from Vermont, where spar buoys are often orange, might not recognize a black spar buoy as a sign of danger.

Navigation buoys, which differ in shape from spar buoys, indicate the “lanes” on many of New Hampshire’s lakes. Going outside of these “lanes” can also result in running aground or into shoals. 

Most boats are not equipped with seatbelts, and many of the boating accidents we see on New Hampshire’s waters include pontoons and bowriders. You can see how easy it is for someone to be thrown off of the boat and into the water or rocks if this type of collision occurs. And they occur too often due to negligent piloting.  

If you plan on operating a boat on any of New Hampshire’s beautiful lakes, you are indeed lucky and we are thrilled for you to have that experience! But if you’re unfamiliar with the navigation system on New Hampshire lakes, or just need a brush-up, do take the time to educate yourself so you and your family can truly enjoy all the beauty there is to be had here and leave with only those memories. The New Hampshire State Police Marine Patrol is a great place to start. 


The waterways can get crowded, and some operators are reckless in piloting their craft. We see collisions most often when operators are intoxicated, fatigued, or distracted. The sad, hard truth is that these types of boat accidents often happen when the pilot is illegally operating their (or someone else’s) boat while drunk. They are unable to pay attention properly and therefore never see the vessels they strike. Some collisions are caused by reckless boaters who like to take risks and endanger the lives of others.

These types of issues also lead to running into swimmers, kayaks, canoes, and other small unpowered vessels in situations where the tragedy was entirely avoidable. 


A boat can sink after a collision, but it also might sink due to a defect in the hull. Many people can drown awaiting rescue. However, too often a captain overestimates their boat’s ability and underestimates the condition. It happens so often there are entire YouTube channels dedicated to this exact problem. Most of the time in these videos, the boat operator and passengers are able to walk away with minor bumps and bruises to their body and pride. However, this type of reckless driving and failure to assess what your boat (and piloting skills) can result in broken bones, spinal injuries, or death. It is the captain’s responsibility to his or her passengers and other safe boaters around them to know their boat’s limits and their piloting limits. Plain and simple, cut and dried. And when a captain or pilot fails to do so, they are responsible for the results that affect their passengers or other boaters.   

Fires or Explosions

A dangerous fire on a boat can be deadly when you are far from shore. Burns and smoke inhalation are common injuries. A fire could also send people overboard as they struggle to stay afloat for a rescue.

Engines On and Swimmers Nearby

Year after year, without fail, boaters make the extremely dangerous and absolutely negligent decision to turn on their engines without checking if there are swimmers near the propeller. Sometimes they will knowingly leave their engines on (maybe thinking it’s okay because the throttle is in neutral) while people get out of the water on the swim platform at the stern of the boat. This is about one of the most dangerous and reckless actions a pilot can take. 

While sparing the details, it should be understood that this can lead to catastrophic results. Whether it’s the propeller catching a line that another swimmer is using to keep near the boat, or a swimmer making contact while the propeller rotates as they try to climb back onto the boat, the results are severe. Sometimes this is the result of trying to pick up a boater who fell out of the boat while the captain tries to maneuver near that person. 

It is never an acceptable mistake. Someone either entrusted their boat to a negligent operator, or the owner is a negligent operator. 

Who is Responsible for Boat Accident Injuries?

We have sought compensation from the following people, depending on the accident:

  • Boat operator. If this person was negligent or reckless, they are responsible for the accident. The operator at fault could be piloting your vessel or be the operator of a different craft that strikes you.
  • Boat owner. This might be someone different than the operator. The owner could be liable when a boat defect or fire causes injury.
  • Rental company. If you rented a boat, then the company could be on the hook if the craft was defective due to poor maintenance or repairs.

Many victims have no idea what caused the accident. This is especially true if they get tossed overboard. You need an experienced New Hampshire boat accident lawyer to investigate to fully understand what happened and who is at fault.

Boat Injuries & Compensation

Many accident victims suffer traumatic bodily injuries, including fractures, soft-tissue injuries, head injuries, concussions, or pinched nerves. Although these injuries might heal, they take time. Our clients can usually seek monetary compensation to cover medical care and lost income, as well as pain and suffering.

If your boat was struck by another vessel, you can also sue for boat damage. It is important to not fix the boat immediately but let an attorney inspect it. The watercraft might contain helpful information which could prove essential to your case.

When a person is tossed overboard, there is a risk of drowning. Even if a person survives, they could suffer an anoxic brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation. Going without oxygen for even a few minutes typically leads to the death of brain cells. These injuries tend to be permanent, with survivors struggling to regain the ability to talk, move, or take care of themselves. Anoxic brain injury victims need compensation to cover future medical care and loss of earning capacity.

When victims drown, family members might pursue a wrongful death case, which is a special personal injury lawsuit brought by certain surviving family members. They might receive compensation for the income the deceased could have earned while living, as well as medical and funeral expenses.

Contact Sabbeth Law for a Free Consultation

New Hampshire gives accident victims a limited amount of time to vindicate their rights in court. We strongly encourage you to reach out to our firm at the earliest opportunity so that we can ensure you don’t go over the deadline. In a consultation, we can go over the accident and what you know. We can also discuss your chances of successfully recovering compensation. Contact us today.