Most people associate the city of San Diego with its beautiful coastline. Every resident spends at least a little time each year taking in the Pacific Ocean as well. Many even enjoy boarding a watercraft and getting away from city life for a while. Residents embark on their trips comforted by the belief that, if anything goes wrong, they’ll have the Coast Guard to take care of them.

While this has long been a certainty beyond reproach, the Coast Guard has suffered from a string of bizarre accidents in the past few years that have some wondering.

Back in 2010, transmission wires that hanging above a channel by James Island, Washington took the tail off a MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter. The Coast Guard craft would’ve seen the wires had they been decorated with plastic safety balls like they were supposed to be. A retired Coast Guard master chief had even taken notice of this and called a local office to complain. But nothing was done for years and three out of four of the crew aboard that helicopter perished.

This tragic accident came just months after another in San Diego Bay. A high-speed Coast Guard response craft ran right into a family boat, killing an eight year-old onboard.

Between 2010 and 2013, the number of accidents that resulted in equipment damage, injury, or death spiked for the Coast Guard. Last year actually hit a seven year high. The Center for Investigative Reporting has found data they believe points to lapses in judgment and missed opportunities for the Coast Guard to learn from their mistakes.

Whatever the reason for this string of accidents, you need to make sure you protect yourself and seek help if you find yourself a victim. Just because they’re the Coast Guard doesn’t mean you don’t have rights, nor does it mean you have to take their word for what happened. Always seek the opinion of your own attorney to ensure your rights are protected.