What do you do if someone hits your boat?

With nearly one million boats legally registered in Florida, boaters are on the waters at all times. Accidents can happen, whether you are out enjoying the sun and sea in the peak summertime season or boating during the quieter times of the year. If you have been injured in a boating accident because of someone else’s negligence, you may have grounds to pursue a personal injury claim.

At Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, our Florida boat accident lawyers are well-versed in the state’s boating laws and regulations. We believe accident victims deserve full and fair compensation for any related losses, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Continue reading to learn what to do if someone hits your boat.

Common Cause of Boating Accidents

According to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida leads the nation in both the number of registered vessels and the number of reportable boating accidents. In 2020, officials noted a total of 836 Florida boating accidents cases. As a result of those accidents, there were 534 injuries and 79 deaths, including five missing persons presumed dead.

While there is a multitude of contributing factors to consider when determining the cause of a boat accident, there are specific common causes to be aware of, including the following:

 

  • Operator inattention or inexperience. Just as with distracted driving, distracted boating is a contributing factor to many accidents on the water. In addition to paying attention when driving a boat, the operator also needs to understand how to maneuver their rig correctly.
  • Excessive speed. Speeding on the water reduces the time operators, and passengers have to react to dangers.
  • Alcohol use. Alcohol consumption significantly reduces a boat operator’s judgment and navigational abilities.
  • Navigational violations. When a boat operator fails to follow the rules of boat navigation, there is a higher chance of a collision occurring.
  • Weather conditions. Just because the sky appears clear and sunny does not mean boat operators should assume the fair weather will continue. Poor weather conditions can cause hazardous waters.

Steps to Take After Someone Hits Your Boat

After a boat accident, the actions you take can significantly impact your ability to recover total compensation for your losses. Consider the following steps:

  1. Ensure your passengers are safe. Immediately after the accident, check on your passengers as well as the individuals in the other boat. Assess the situation to determine if emergency medical services are required.
  2. Call 911. If you have cell reception, call 911. If you are using a VHF radio, make a distress call. Either way, the nearest emergency service providers, be it the Coast Guard, local marine police, or fire department, will come to your aid.
  3. Secure the boat. If your boat is sinking or immobile, you will need to secure it to prevent further damage. The responding emergency providers can help you do this safely. Never endanger your life or the lives of others when attempting to retrieve a damaged boat.
  4. Document the damage. Make a note of the damage to your boat, any injuries you sustained, and any injuries suffered by your passengers.
  5. Collect information. In addition to documenting the damage to your boat, you will also need to gather information from the other boat operator. Collect contact and insurance information, as well as the boat’s make, model, and registration number.
  6. Notify your insurance company. Once you are safely ashore and have been seen by a medical professional for injuries, contact your insurance company to report the accident. You will want to provide as many relevant details as possible, as well as photos of the damage and a copy of the police report if one was filed. You will also likely need to notify the insurance company representing the boat operator who hit you. Be cautious with the information you share, and consider deferring communications to an attorney.
  7. Contact a boat accident attorney. Depending on the severity of the accident, you could be dealing with significant losses. Instead of going back and forth with the insurance company, get in touch with an attorney. They will be able to advise you on your claim and help you determine how to obtain the compensation needed to get your life back in order.

Determining Fault After a Boat Accident in Florida

Per Florida law, if you are injured in a boating accident because of someone’s negligence, you are entitled to a monetary award called damages. To receive that compensation, you need to be able to prove the other boater was at fault for the accident.

Negligence is defined as another person’s identifiable failure to behave with reasonable caution and care. In Florida, an injured party may only file a claim against another operator when the injured person is less than fifty percent liable for the accident.

Determining fault isn’t always straightforward, so your attorney will consider a number of factors, including:

  • The types of boats
  • How fast the boats were traveling
  • The size of a wake or wave
  • The visibility at the time of the accident
  • The other boat traffic at the time of the accident
  • Whether the boat operator alerted passengers about the impending accident

Depending on the situation, a thorough investigation may be required. Your lawyer may recommend an accident reconstructionist if your claim is particularly complex. However, the goal will ultimately be to prove you were wronged because of the other boat operator’s actions, and that you deserve compensation as a result. Your liability claim could result in compensation for all injury-related medical expenses, lost earnings and loss of future earning capacity, personal suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disability, and more.

Contact Our Treasure Coast Attorneys

The boat accidents lawyers from Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd have been helping injured victims seek compensation for their losses for over 30 years. If you’ve been involved in a boating accident, we are here to fight on your behalf to ensure you have the best possible chance at recovery.

The sooner you get in touch with our lawyer first after your accident, the better. Upon meeting, we will review what you have been through and determine how best to proceed based on your unique circumstances. Call us at (866) 460-1990 or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

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302 South Second Street
Ft. Pierce, FL 34950
Phone: (772) 464-4600
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Port St. Lucie, FL 34952
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