A Boating Accident Can Turn Recreation into a Life-Changing Event, But You Have Rights to Pursue Compensation

Florida leads the nation in both its number of registered boating vessels and its number of overall boating accidents. Sadly, most of these accidents come down to a lack of boating education.

Any time an injury-causing incident results from a boating operator, owner, or passenger’s carelessness, that person or their employer could potentially be held liable for the total costs of the injury. These damages often include compensation for past and future medical bills, any lost income as a result of missed work and reimbursement for related expenses. A boating accident personal injury settlement or court award may also include compensation for non-monetary damages, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, permanent disfigurement, or permanent disability.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a boating accident, know that you have the right to pursue a personal injury claim. You can work with an experienced Florida boating accident lawyer who can help you file your claim, compile evidence of negligence, document your full injury costs, and respond to any adversarial legal strategies attempted by the defendant or his/her insurer.

Schedule your free, no-obligation case review today to learn what your next best steps could be to seek financial recovery after your boating-related injury. You can contact us now online or by our toll-free phone number: 866-460-1990.

Florida Boating Accident Statistics

Hundreds of boating accidents occur every year in Florida, and many of them lead to injuries or death.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), 766 boating accidents were reported in 2017, including 61 incidents that were fatal. 437 injuries resulted, and 67 people tragically lost their lives.

Personal watercraft (PWC) were overrepresented in these accidents; while just 13% of all registered vessels in Florida were PWC, they accounted for 20% of all accidents and 16% of fatalities. Nearly half of these PWCs were rented—47%, representing 96 of the accidents. 42% of PWC accidents involved collisions with another vessel.

40% of PWC accidents occurred in just three counties: Monroe, Miami-Dade, and Pinellas.

Most concerning of all, boating accidents have remained consistently high over the past five years and have risen 7% from 2016 to 2017.

Sadly, a large portion of these boating accidents could be attributed to negligence. A whopping 67% of operators involved in fatal accidents had no formal boater education whatsoever. Looking just at fatal accidents, nearly a quarter (24%) involved drugs or alcohol.

The Florida FWC also tracks the number of citations it dispenses annually. 374 operators were issued a citation for boating under the influence, and 431 were cited with negligent operation of a vessel. 351 citations were also issued for violations of PWC regulations.

Determining Liability and Negligence after a Florida Boating Accident

The legal principle of negligence requires four main showings before someone can be proved to have acted negligently and, thereby, be responsible for resulting damages:

  1. Duty—Someone must have a duty of care as defined by law or the general principle of acting responsibly as a “reasonable person” might
  2. Breach—The allegedly responsible party must have lapsed in their duty contrary to how any “reasonable person” would
  3. Cause—The breach in the defendant’s duty must have directly caused an incident that leads to the injury victim being harmed
  4. Harm—The injury victim must have a documentable loss in the form of damages

In the case of boating accidents, the operator of the boat may be held liable if his/her actions directly caused the incident that led to an injury. Other occupants of the boat may be found to have been negligent if they failed in their duty to protect fellow passengers as a reasonable person might.

If another vessel were partially or fully responsible for the accident, such as driving too fast and causing a wake that capsized the vessel, then that boat’s operator may be found to have been negligent.

Additionally, commercial entities, such as boating tour operators, boat rental companies, marina management companies, or other commercial boat operators may be found to have been liable if their actions constituted negligence.

Some cases can be incredibly complex, leading to multiple possible defendants who could be held liable for the percentage they contributed to the accident.

Since these cases can be so complicated, a Florida boating accident attorney can be extremely beneficial to injured plaintiffs seeking recovery. They can examine the applicable laws to determine who was responsible for what actions that led to the accident. Your attorney can also assemble the needed evidence to prove that certain individuals breached their duty or were aware of lapses in care that a reasonable person would know to be dangerous.

For example, under Florida boating laws, operators are required to attach cutoff switch lanyard to their clothing or PFD so that the boat throttle will deactivate if they are thrown overboard. An operator who neglects this duty and gets in an accident that could have been less serious if the boat’s throttle were not still engaged could, in this instance, be potentially liable for resulting injuries.

Similarly, Florida law requires that PWC operators be at least 14 years of age, so if someone knowingly lets someone younger operate the vessel and an injury-causing accident happens, the person who gave the underage operator permission could be held liable for injuries.

Most Common Injuries after a Florida Boating Accident

Looking at injury data from the Florida FWC, a few patterns emerge that reveal the most common Florida boating accident injuries.

  • Laceration (Cuts)
  • Contusions (Bruises)
  • Broken bones
  • Head injury
  • Burns
  • Sprains/strains
  • Back injury
  • Internal injuries
  • Neck injury
  • Spinal injury
  • Amputation
  • Hypothermia
  • Teeth/jaw injuries
  • Dislocations

63% of all injury victims were not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD).

Looking at fatal boating accidents, falling overboard and drowning is the most common cause, equaling 41% of all fatal accident causes in 2017.

Speak to Boating Accident Lawyers in Florida Regarding Your Case

Medical care after a boating accident injury can be very expensive, and unexpected costs tend to add up. Additionally, there are the impacts that cannot be quantified just by monetary losses: your pain, suffering, and mental anguish.

Boating accident injury victims owe it to themselves and their families to at least explore the possibility of an injury claim. They can schedule an appointment to speak with a knowledgeable boating accident attorney in Florida today. Most importantly, boating accident injury victims can do so for free during a relatively quick, no-obligation consultation.

Contact Steve Hoskins now if you have been injured while boating. One of our lawyers will be happy to assist you by listening to your story and projecting what your best legal strategy might be to seek the maximum available compensation for your injuries.

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