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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:
- Duty—Someone must have a duty of care as defined by law or the general principle of acting responsibly as a “reasonable person” might
- Breach—The allegedly responsible party must have lapsed in their duty contrary to how any “reasonable person” would
- Cause—The breach in the defendant’s duty must have directly caused an incident that leads to the injury victim being harmed
- 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 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 lanyards 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
- Back injury
- Internal injuries
- Neck injury
- Spinal injury
- Teeth/jaw injuries
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.
How Can a Boating Accident Attorney Help Me?
Have you been in a boat accident and need legal advice? Have you been left with permanent injuries? Maybe you have a temporary partial or full disability. Boat accidents can result in serious physical injury or even death. Knowing how to respond and what to do after a boat accident can mean the difference between recuperation and financial ruin.
Many people are unsure how to handle their own injuries after an accident. They often ask friends or family members for suggestions and almost never take legal action. But, advice from friends and family isn’t always the best way to handle the situation. Boat accident attorneys are knowledgeable about the legal system and know how to deal with insurance companies, doctors, and medics.
If you have severe injuries and want to hold the other person or company responsible, a good boat accident lawyer can help. Boat accident attorneys will review your case, gather information, interview witnesses and other individuals, and determine if they will file a lawsuit or settle out of court.
After a boating accident, the best thing you can do is focus on healing from your injuries and getting your life back on track. The last thing you need is to put yourself through the stress of trying to fight with an insurance company that doesn’t want to pay you what you’re entitled to. This added stress will actually slow down your healing process.
Many people assume that they will file a claim with their insurance company, go to court, and represent themselves in a courtroom. However, this is often the worst decision one can make. The insurance companies know that when people file a boat accident claim on their own, the vast majority of them know very little about the law. This will almost always result in a very small amount of compensation being awarded. Having your own attorney will add some extra weight to their case, making their claim more legitimate.
How Much Compensation Can I Expect from a Boating Accident?
There is no answer to this question that will apply to every case. The circumstances surrounding your case and your injuries are not the same as other types of claims. Therefore, the only way to know exactly what you are entitled to receive is to sit down and speak with an attorney. They will examine the evidence, apply the relevant laws, and determine the amount of compensation you can legally pursue.
If you were injured in a boat accident and your lawyer has advised that you file a claim, you should not attempt to bargain or compromise with the insurer. Instead, you should immediately contact your lawyer and ask them what the best course of action is. Remember to keep records of all doctor’s appointments, tests, and recuperation. It is also important that you keep detailed reports of any medical expenses and lost wages you may have suffered.
Be sure not to sign anything until your attorney has had a chance to thoroughly review it. It is extremely important that you completely agree with everything contained within it and that you read it all before you sign. You never know when you may have a different view of something in the future and therefore it is better to be safe than sorry.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Boating Accident Attorney?
You may think that you do not have the resources to hire a boating accident attorney. If you are injured in a boating accident, you are entitled to compensation. The question is, how much will it cost to hire a boating accident attorney. Consider the following factors:
Most people can’t afford to hire one right off the bat. But, you will often find attorneys who offer a free consultation on your case. If your case is strong enough, the attorney may also work on a “no win, no fee” basis. This means that you won’t be charged for any up-front costs and the attorney will take a percentage of your settlement.
Make sure that when you are talking with the potential attorney that you understand what your situation is. If they don’t offer a “no win, no fee,” ask how much they will charge you upfront. Find out if there is a payment plan offered. While you may still be apprehensive, it is important to think about what you may end up losing if you choose not to retain the services of a qualified boat accident attorney.
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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