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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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.”
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:
Compensation related to disability (if applicable)
Call Us For Help After A Boating Accident
Like any other personal injury, a boating accident can be devastating. If you’ve been hurt, but don’t know where to turn, our attorneys can help with filing a claim, and if needed, going to trial.
If you have lost a family member, have been injured or have a loved one injured in a boating or jet ski accident, call us to talk about your options and rights. Call us today at 813-575-4100 or contact us with the button below. We will schedule your free consultation and discuss your case with you. We’ll let you know how to proceed, and there’s no obligation.