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Florida Keys Boat Accident

Not so long ago, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) revealed that over 830 boating accidents occurred in Florida in 2020. Even during a pandemic, 79 people died and over 500 people experienced boat accident injuries. Despite the many benefits of living in this beautiful part of the state, the hazards on the water are still a huge concern for lawmakers.

With Florida a key tourist spot for the United States, lawmakers are reluctant to place too many restrictions on boating companies because this could close a whole industry. Therefore, thousands of people each year can rent a boat and enjoy a day in the sun. Unfortunately, these joyful days in the sun don’t always end with much happiness.

If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, we recommend contacting The Injury Firm as a personal injury attorney. With experience in maritime law, we know how to position your case so that you get the right compensation.

Causes of Boating Fatalities in Florida

Firstly, why do so many Florida Keys boat accidents occur? As mentioned in the introduction, most people can hire a boat and operate it even though they don’t have experience or training. If you can imagine the same thing happening with vehicles on the road, you would witness lots of accidents and injuries in this case too. Fortunately, all drivers on the road have a license to say that they can operate a vehicle…while licenses and training courses do exist on the water, they’re not all-encompassing.

Therefore, one of the biggest causes of boating fatalities and injuries in Florida is a lack of training. Without the right training, operators aren’t aware of the hazards. In many cases, the operator also wants to enjoy the day with family and friends. Suddenly, they aren’t paying as close attention to the water as they should. Sadly, this leads to collisions with vessels, rocks, and other obstacles.

Without the right training, the boat operator also doesn’t know how to respond to boat collisions - they aren’t trained to help injured passengers. Also, the sad truth is that some operators think that it’s acceptable to drink alcohol or take drugs while operating a boat. As you probably know, the water is full of hazards and the conditions can change almost from one minute to the next. All operators need to be alert, but this doesn’t happen.

Elsewhere, other boat accidents are caused by poor operating in adverse weather conditions, boat operator negligence, speeding, overcrowding, passenger interference, and poor knowledge of navigational routes.

Whatever the cause, boating accidents and collisions can lead to serious injuries for passengers, operators, and others. If a boat collision, this means that two sets of passengers are at risk. While some accidents lead to capsizing, other problems include man overboard, unsafe fuel practices, failure to adhere to maritime laws, carbon monoxide poisoning, and overloading.

Here are the top five causes of and contributing factors to boating accidents in Florida:

  • Inexperienced boat operators
  • Inattentive boat operators
  • Machinery failure
  • Poor lookout
  • Speeding

If you were involved in a boating accident that wasn’t your fault, you could be entitled to compensation to deal with the associated damages. Contact a Florida boating accident attorney today for more information and advice.

Dealing with a Boating Accident

Later, we’ll ask the question of liability when it comes to boating accidents. But first, what should you do after experiencing a boating accident? What are boat operators required to do after an accident?

Scarily, the maritime law in Florida suggests that anybody over the age of 12 can legally operate a watercraft. While minors are limited in terms of power, you’ll still encounter children on the water. Combine this fact with the issue of inexperienced and inebriated operators and it’s no wonder Floridians are concerned about the issue.

After a boat accident, operators/owners need to report it under federal law when it involves a disappearance, death, injury that goes beyond general first aid, and damage worth over $2,000. If any of these situations are present, the operator needs to report the boating accident either to the sheriff, the county, the police department, or the FWC directly. If the operator rented the boat, the owner of the business will likely take this responsibility.

Immediately after an accident, the boat operator is required to shut off the engine to stop the boat, assist all those injured or in danger, provide their identifying number, and report the incident. If neither the boat operator nor the boat owner reports the incident, this is considered a criminal offense (as is failing to provide aid to injured parties).

If death occurs, a report is required within 48 hours - in all other circumstances, this increases to 10 days. The report will contain the following information:

  • Name of boat operator
  • Contact information of all passengers
  • Location of incident
  • Loss of life
  • Injuries
  • Property damages

Furthermore, boating operators are now required to remain on the scene of boat accident injuries thanks to new and upgraded boating laws in many states. Now, leaving the scene of a boating accident is akin to leaving an auto accident in terms of punishment and severity.

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Liability in Boating Accidents

After a Florida Keys boating accident, who is liable for the damages? How does a victim recuperate damages and compensation after experiencing boat accident injuries? Fortunately, your personal injury attorney will have the experience and knowledge to protect your legal rights and point your case in the right direction.

This being said, the liability for a boating accident can fall in the following areas:

Boat Operators

Since operator inexperience and inattentiveness are two of the biggest causes of boating accidents, it makes sense to start with boat operators. Whether the operator of another boat or your boat, these people are supposed to watch the water, look out for hazards, and always remain alert. While many companies require operators to hold safety certificates, people without much experience still end up on the water and this leads to many accidents each year.

The boat operator is ultimately responsible for speeding, drinking, consuming drugs, not paying enough attention, failing to assign a lookout, and operating the vehicle negligently in other ways.

Boat Manufacturers

In some accidents, the boat operator isn’t responsible for the accident at all because it was actually caused by a fault in the machinery itself. Boat manufacturers are responsible for accidents if they allowed a boat to leave the factory that was faulty, damaged, poorly designed, or contained defects.

Boat Owners

Sometimes, the boat owner will be responsible for accidents (or at least share responsibility with the operator). For example, the owner may not have maintained the vessel well. The owner needs to look after the vessel and ensure that all equipment works as expected. The second they start getting sloppy and allowing small issues is when an accident becomes more likely.

Additionally, owners of boats and boating companies have a responsibility to only allow trained and experienced operators onto the vehicle. If the owner allowed an operator with no experience or training to operate the vessel, they could share responsibility for the resulting accident.

Boat Rental Companies

Similarly, owners of rental businesses can also fall into the same trap. They might hire operators or allow operators without the right training and experience. Even if the employee was trained, the rental company could still be responsible for damages caused by an accident.

Another Passenger

Lastly, we don’t want you to think that other passengers can’t be liable for damages after boat accident injuries. Sadly, passengers can also cause accidents through reckless actions, negligence, or inebriated behavior. When drunk or otherwise, passengers can distract operators, push people overboard, jump overboard, cause a fire, or cause other dangerous situations for all those on board.

Contact The Injury Firm

If you need a Florida boating accident attorney, get in touch with The Injury Firm today. In your case, at least one party probably had a duty of care toward you, whether this was the boat owner, rental company, boat operator, or boat manufacturer. If they breached this duty, your personal injury attorney will protect your legal rights and compile a case to obtain compensation.

Depending on the extent of the accident, you could be entitled to recover medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other damages. If you’re claiming on behalf of a lost loved one, these damages change to funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and wrongful death. Either way, you need an expert in maritime law after a Florida Keys boat accident.

With all the intricacies of a boating accident, we highly recommend contacting an experienced attorney so that you can focus on recovery. We’ll gather evidence, speak to eyewitnesses, assess the report, contact expert witnesses (for potential testimonies), and build a case that encourages the relevant insurance company to offer fair compensation. If a settlement offer isn’t fair, we’ll push through and try your case in front of a judge or jury.

Don’t worry, the process starts with a free case evaluation, and you don’t have to pay anything until the case is resolved. Contact The Injury Firm for a friendly, informed voice today!

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The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only.  This website may contain information about The Injury Firm's past results, testimonials about the firm or a lawyer within the firm, and statements regarding the quality of The Injury Firm's work product. This information has not been reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar. Please be advised that: 1) the facts and circumstances of your case may differ from the matters for which results and testimonials have been provided: 2) Not all results of cases handled by the firm or its lawyers are provided and not all clients have given testimonials; and 3) The results and testimonials provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the firm or by its lawyers or of the experience of all clients or others within the firm or its lawyers. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.

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