Florida Leads the Country in Recreational Boating Accidents

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In 2013, Florida led the country with 736 boating accidents — more than double what the second-ranked state of California experienced. (Image courtesy: NOAA.gov)

As summer fades away and the rest of the country is packing up bathing suits and flip-flops, residents of South Florida continue to enjoy the tropical weather and blue waterways that make our state a year-round oasis. Yet, Florida’s temperate climate and 1,350 miles of coastline contribute to the high number of recreational boating accidents that occur each year—the highest in the country.

In 2013 alone, an estimated 736 recreational boating accidents were reported in Florida, with California coming in second with 365. Florida boating accidents encompass a multitude of scenarios including collisions, capsized vessels, passengers falling overboard, and failure to wear a life jacket, resulting in trauma, injury and even drowning.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of boating accidents are entirely preventable.  Many collisions and accidents involving recreational watercraft are caused by negligence, intoxication, equipment failure, weather and water conditions, and inadequate training.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservations offers the following tips to prevent maritime accidents and injuries:

  1. Treat boating as seriously as you would drive a car.   Many people are far more casual about boating, but both tasks require the same motor and cognitive skills.
  2. Get formal safety lessons.  Under laws passed in 2010, if you were born on or after January 1, 1988, you must take an accepted safety course for boaters if you want to operate a watercraft.
  3. Wear life jackets and insist your passengers also wear them.  In 2013, 61% of boating accidents were caused by drowning and 49% of victims were not wearing life jackets at the time of death.
  4. Do not drink and drive.  Alcohol consumption is second on the list of factors for boating accidents in Florida.
  5. Consider the effects of the water and the sun. The sun and the glare of the water can exacerbate the effects of alcohol and can also make it difficult to focus or to stay awake if fatigued.

Given the complexity of the legal and safety issues involved in boating accidents and injuries, hiring a skilled personal injury attorney to investigate, litigate, negotiate, and resolve boating accident claims is especially critical.  If you or a loved one is injured in a boating accident, my team and I can help you. I am a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer with over 30 years of experience in helping the injured, proudly serving the people of Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, and Okeechobee.  Call me for a free case analysis and evaluation.

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