Boating is often a second nature activity for many Florida residents, whether they live on the coast or along our numerous inter-coastal waterways. The activity is fantastic for recreation as well as transportation, but it comes with certain risks. When vessel operators fail to use caution on the water or adhere to basic safety and operating standards, they can cause serious and life-threatening injuries.
Statistics on Boat Accidents in Florida
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida had 915,713 registered vessels in 2015. The state had 438 boating-related injuries that year, up from 365 in 2014. Most injuries included lacerations, but victims also frequently report contusions, broken bones, and head injuries. In 2014, our state ranked highest out of all others for the number of boating-related fatalities (62 total fatalities). The next highest number on the list was Texas, with 34 fatalities. In 2015, 55 people died in boating-related incidents.
What Causes Boat Accidents?
While unforeseeable circumstances can contribute to a boat accident, most occur because of operator errors or malfunctioning equipment. Some of the most common operator errors responsible for injurious boating accidents include:
- Failing to look out for potential hazards. On the water, vessel operators must pay attention to the water as well as the other traffic in the area.
- Failing to obtain adequate experience before operating a vessel. Inexperienced boat operators can run into many difficulties out on the water. From improper anchoring to failing to follow traffic rules, hands-on experience and education can significantly reduce the risk of boat-related accidents.
- Engaging in careless or risky boating behaviors. Reckless activities on the water may include doing donuts, following other vessels too closely, or pulling a skier too closely behind the propeller.
- Speeding. Speed combined with any other operator error can cause some of the most injurious and deadly boating accidents. There is a time and a place for speed on the water, but excessive speed in unsafe conditions can lead to disaster.
With some extra caution, many boating accidents are completely preventable. Accidents often include more than one contributing factor, and noting any operator errors or machinery failures will help us build a case against the owner or operator of the vessel.
Who Is Liable for a Boat Accident?
After a boat accident, the injured parties must consider who was responsible for the resulting damage and pain. The courts determine liability on a case-by-case basis, and potential defendants may include boating operators (either the individual operating the vessel you are on or another boat operator), vessel owners, rental companies, and vessel and parts manufacturers.
In addition to pursuing action against these potential defendants, our team may negotiate with or take action against a boating insurance company. After a serious and avoidable boating accident, you deserve access to fair compensation to cover the cost of your injuries, time away from work, and the pain and suffering you have endured.
Your Florida Boating Injury Attorneys
To report a boating accident, contact the Coast Guard or local law enforcement agencies. After you get back to shore and receive medical attention, consider contacting an attorney to learn more about your rights and if maritime laws apply in your case. The water is a relaxing and recreational place for everyone, and a few who engage in dangerous activity should not ruin the joy for others.
At SteinLaw, we handle all boating cases, including those that fall under maritime law. An initial consultation with one of our experienced attorneys is always free, and you will not owe us any legal fees unless we secure compensation for you.