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Connecticut Lawmakers Propose Law To Improve Safety In Advance of Boating Season

Posted On behalf of Michael D'Amico of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on May 12, 2015 in Boating Accidents

A proposal by several state legislators may make boating safer in Connecticut.

Connecticut lawmakers are pushing a bill that would tighten regulations on towing a person behind a boat. The bill would require a towing safety course before boat operators could legally tow skiers and tubers.

Senate Bill 699, named "Emily's Bill" after the victim of a tragic boating accident that claimed the life of a Connecticut teenager last summer, was filed with the Legislative Commissioner's Office on March 23. The Joint Committee on Environment has already approved SB 699. The bill is now at the Legislative Commissioner's Office for approval and revision before it will be taken to the floor for a vote.

Even if the bill ultimately passes, the legislation would not take effect until 2016. Still, if it passes, it would help provide a measure of safety and comfort to Connecticut families worried about boating safety.

The accident which spurred the legislation occurred on August 6, 2014. The tragedy arose when a group of teens were tubing on Long Island Sound. The tubers fell off, and when the boat returned to pick them up, the propeller struck the girls in the water, killing one and severely injuring another. The teen driving the boat had obtained a state-issued boating certificate but remained inexperienced at towing skiers and tubers.

Boating accidents in Connecticut

Connecticut enjoys numerous waterways, which many families enjoy by boating, skiing, and swimming. In the relaxed atmosphere of a summer vacation day, it can be easy for young people to forget to take proper safety precautions. Hopefully, if the bill passes it will help prevent future injuries from boating accidents.

Currently, Connecticut allows anyone aged 16 years and older to operate a boat without adult supervision if they pass an eight-hour boating safety course. Teens aged 16 years and older can also operate personal watercraft like jet skis with additional training and certification. Current safety courses contain little information on towing, however, according to Joe Fedorko, the father of the teen killed. The Fedorko family testified before the Joint Committee on Environment in support of the legislation.

Legal help available

As with any motor vehicle accident, injured victims are able to get help with recovery through a personal injury lawsuit after a boating accident. At D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC, our attorneys have experience representing people injured in boating accidents in Connecticut. Contact our office to discuss your situation and legal options.