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Boating Accident Lawyer

Boating And Watercraft Accidents

Florida Boating Accidents Can Happen Suddenly

Boating is an enjoyable leisure time activity that’s enjoyed by people nationwide and especially here. Whether it’s around Florida’s shores and islands, along the many rivers and lakes, anywhere along the Gulf of Mexico or the beaches of the Atlantic and Pacific, people enjoy riding on the water.

Boating can also be a commercial venture. From cruise ships and ferryboats to fishing and shipping, boats also provide economic benefits and livelihoods.

No matter the size of the boat, an accident can happen at any time. Even in the best of circumstances, you could still experience an injury as a result.

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Boating Accidents And Watercraft Injuries

Main Causes Of Boating Accidents

Whether for business or leisure, boating carries an inherent risk of danger that people may not consider. But even with safety equipment such as life jackets the risk of an accident on a boat is real.

Most accidents involve some degree of negligence. Frequent causes of accidents on the water include:

  • Operator error and inattention—because boating can be unpredictable, it’s vital to pay attention at all times. When someone has a slight lapse in attention, or their attention drawn away from the helm, a boat can collide with floating debris, another boat, or other obstruction.
  • Inexperienced leisure boaters may not have proper training to operate the vessel and abide by the prescribed protocols and requirements. This is similar to someone driving a car without a license and without much driver training.
  • Improper lookout—modern boats utilize cameras to continually monitor the boat’s surroundings and weather conditions. If these cameras aren’t monitored, the boat could become grounded or collide with another boat or object.
  • Operating while impaired—leisure boating frequently means celebrating with alcohol consumption. Alcohol impairment in the operator can lead to many different predicaments, such as getting lost, reckless operation, etc. However, individuals operating the boat must be a “designated driver” and refrain from alcohol consumption or other impairing substances while operating the vessel. Someone operating a boat while drinking can, in some states, be arrested for it.
  • Speeding or dangerous operation—just like speeding in a car, operating a boat at a high rate of speed or in an unsafe manner can cause the loss of control that results in an accident.
  • Failure of equipment—improper maintenance and failing to follow a pre-sailing checklist can result in accidents or breakdowns at sea.
  • Ignoring rules of navigation—maritime rules apply on the water, and failing to follow these rules can result in an accident.
  • Force of wake/waves—sudden waves from larger vessels can arrive without warning, requiring smaller vessels to be aware of barges and wakes from larger ones.
  • Bad weather conditions—with modern meteorology, weather is very predictable. But boaters who go out in spite of bad weather predictions run a high risk of an accident while on the water.
  • Lack of safety equipment—life jackets for each passenger are essential on any size vessel. Without them, passengers may face drowning or other calamities.

Accidents that involve jet skis and other personal watercraft are also considered “boating accidents.”

Reporting Requirement

Federal and state laws require that any accident in a boat be reported if:

  • Someone has sustained an injury that requires more than first aid
  • Someone is missing, indicating a possible injury and/or fatality
  • There is a fatality
  • The boat is a complete loss
  • There is property damage to the boat
  • The boat is valued at over $2,000

Each state has its own laws that are supplemental to federal boating regulations.

Who Is Liable For The Boating Accident?

The question may be difficult to answer, depending on how many parties are involved. This is why you’ll need help from experts who understand both maritime law and personal injury. There may be one or more parties who are liable for the boat accident, including:

  • The boat’s legal owner
  • The company operating the boat
  • Boat operators who are distracted or inattentive
  • Boat operators who are inebriated
  • The boat’s captain, attendants or other staff members
  • The designer of the boat
  • The manufacturer of the boat

No two boating accidents are identical. Speaking with a knowledgeable boating accident attorney will help you understand how to proceed.

What To Do If You’re Involved In A Boat Accident

Account for everyone, and check to see if anyone is injured. Use the on-board first aid kits while waiting for emergency responders (Coast Guard, etc.)

Don’t jump overboard to help another person unless necessary, and ensure that you can get back to the boat safely.

Don’t say anything that can be considered guilt or fault, such as “I’m sorry.” Your claim could be rejected, and you could be sued as well.

Gather any evidence you can—photographic, video, or other physical evidence. Document the time, date and location of the accident, insurance information, as well as property damage and physical injuries. Include witness contact information and statements.

Report the accident to the appropriate state and federal authorities. This may also help you later if you file a personal injury claim.

Just like any other type of accident, solid evidence is essential to support your case. In addition to pictures and other evidence, speak with witnesses, including first responders, members of the Coast Guard, other boaters, swimmers, and anyone else in the vicinity. Get contact information and any pictures or video they may have taken of the accident scene.

Compensation From A Boating Accident

Much like an auto accident, you can recover compensation if you’ve been injured in a boat. Accidents on the water can be just as damaging with injuries such as:

  • Broken bones
  • Amputations
  • Lacerations and bruising
  • Dislocations
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Damage to internal organs

With help from a boating accident attorney, you may be able to recover compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain & suffering
  • Compensation related to disability (if applicable)

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