Jet skis are almost universally considered a whole lot of fun, and very easy to operate. Unfortunately, this does not translate to them also being safe, so while it is possible to have an enjoyable time on a jet ski without suffering any injuries, there are several things you should remember to help you do so.

Do You Need a Boating License or a Driver’s License to Ride a Jet Ski?

No. The only exception is that children under the age of 16 must either ride with an adult, or successfully complete a boater education course to be able to ride alone in South Carolina.

What Should I Wear?

Most people assume they can simply hop on a jet ski in their swimsuit and be good to go. However, this isn’t true. Safety requires a few extra precautions.

  • You are required by law to wear a life jacket when riding a jet ski. It’s much easier to fall from a jet ski than from a boat, and most watercraft-related deaths are the result of drowning, which can be prevented by wearing a life jacket. This is true regardless of your swimming ability! Hitting the water after falling from a jet ski at high speeds could cause injuries that make swimming more difficult.
  • Wear wetsuit bottoms. This isn’t simply to prevent chafing or potentially losing your suit in a fall from the jet ski. Failing to do so can result in serious injury and death. Jet skis accelerate by releasing a powerful jet stream of water. If a passenger falls backwards off a jet ski, they are at risk of that high pressure stream of water entering a body cavity and rupturing internal organs. Wetsuits are the best protection against this.
  • Wear proper footwear. Water shoes are best, as they will keep your feet from slipping like flip flops might, and they also offer protection from submerged objects you might not be able to see when getting off your jet ski.
  • Wear a whistle. If you lose control of your jet ski, a whistle can alert nearby boaters for rescue.
  • Don’t wear anything you will regret losing. That includes hats, jewelry, watches, and expensive sunglasses. Consider wearing tinted goggles instead to protect your eyes from glare and spray, or opt for floating sunglasses or sunglasses you can wear on a lanyard around your neck.

Safe Driving Practices While Riding Your Jet Ski

  • Never drink alcohol before getting on a jet ski. All the same reasons why you shouldn’t drink and drive a car apply to driving a jet ski, and you can still be arrested for operating a vehicle while drunk even on the water.
  • The key to the jet ski will be on a lanyard, which should be worn around your wrist. This is to ensure that if you fall from the jet ski, the key is pulled from the ignition switch and the jet ski isn’t left running without an operator, putting you or others in danger of being run over.
  • Keep your speed low—under 10 MPH—until you’ve moved a safe distance from the shoreline. Then only accelerate gradually, and make sure any passengers are holding on tight when you begin to accelerate to prevent them from falling off.
  • Don’t speed. Before you see how fast you can go, it’s important to remember that most jet skis are not equipped with brakes. Excessive speeding is a common cause of collisions between jet skis and other watercraft and even with swimmers, especially since jet skis cannot turn without accelerating at the same time, making it very difficult to avoid collisions.
  • Don’t try to perform stunts. As tempting as it may be, many inexperienced and experienced riders have been sent to the hospital after attempting tricks like wave jumping.

Victims of Jet Ski Accidents Deserve Compensation

While it’s important to follow safety measures whenever you get on a jet ski to protect yourself and others, the sad truth is that not everyone will offer you the same courtesy. If you were injured by a jet skier who was recklessly speeding, driving drunk, driving too close to the shore, or acting in another negligent manner, you can pursue compensation.

The same is true if you were riding a jet ski and injured by a malfunction caused by a faulty or dangerously designed jet ski.

At Joye Law Firm, we’re very familiar with the many ways negligence can injure people just trying to enjoy themselves at the lake or beach, and we don’t believe that injury victims should be forced to pay for other people’s mistakes.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a jet ski or boating accident, contact our firm today for a free case review.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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