Water Safety Month: Boating and Jet-Skiing

Kate and John boating

Middle Tennessee has many wonderful lakes: Center Hill, Old Hickory, Percy Priest, Normandy Lake and others. Our family’s favorite is Tims Ford where we like to spend as much time as possible out on the water.

While boating and jet skiing are fantastic recreational activities, there are a number of laws applicable to both. Let’s review 10 of the most important:

  1. If you were born after January 1, 1989, you must take and pass the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Boating Safety exam and carry a TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate if you are operating a boat or jet-ski with a horsepower in excess of 8.5. Once you have earned the certificate, you never have to renew it, which is why the State does not call it a license.
  2. If the operator of a motorized boat or jet-ski is under age 12, there must be another person who is 18 years or older who is directly supervising the operation of the vessel. The law defines direct supervision as being able to immediately take control of the vessel i.e., you can’t be drinking beer and sunbathing while the 10 year old drives the boat.
  3. While the boat is underway, anyone under 12 must wear a United States Coast Guard approved lifejacket.
  4. Unless you have a permit, skiing, tubing, knee-boarding, wake-boarding and the like are not permitted between sunset and sunrise.
  5. If you are skiing, tubing, wake-boarding, knee-boarding, etc., you must wear a life jacket.
  6. If you are pulling someone behind your boat, you must either have a spotter over age 12 or an affixed mirror, which provides a 170 degree view of the person being towed.
  7. It is illegal to operate a boat or jet-ski under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, narcotics or any other drug affecting the central nervous system. The blood alcohol level (BAC) required to constitute a violation is the same amount as driving under the influence, which is .08 BAC.
  8. By statute, operators of a boat or other motorized vessel involved in an accident have an affirmative duty to render aid as necessary and reasonable under the circumstances.
  9. Accidents causing serious injury, death, disappearance or property damage of $2,000 or more must be reported.
  10. If you allow someone else to drive your boat or jet-ski, you are liable for any injuries or damages caused by their negligent operation of the vessel. No questions asked.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating or jet-ski accident and would like to talk to one of our top-rated attorneys, give us a call at 615-742-4880 (Nashville) or 615-867-9900(Murfreesboro) or 866-812-8787 (toll-free). Or, if you prefer, contact us online. We will review your case, answer your questions and advise you of your rights in a free, no-obligation consultation. We handle all boating and jet ski accident cases on a contingency basis which means we only get paid if we recover money for you. But, do not wait too long; the law only allows you a limited time to pursue your case.