Florida is the largest peninsula in the United States. Surrounded by water on three sides and with year-round temperate weather, the state of Florida is a haven for water activities, including water skiing, tubing, jet skiing, sailing, fishing, and boating. In addition, with numerous large ports, Florida is known as the cruise ship capital of the world. With millions of Florida residents and visitors enjoying the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean each year, boat accidents are bound to happen. In fact, the state of Florida sees more boat-related accidents annually than any other state. Of the nearly 900,000 boats registered in the state, 634 boat accidents were reported for a total of 73 fatalities, 365 injuries, and over $10.5 million in damage. One boat out of every 1,419 docked in Florida will be involved in an accident in the next year. However, these statistics account for only accidents reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The vast majority of accidents go unreported.
If you were injured in a boat accident, you may have legal recourse against the boat captain, owner of the boat, cruise ship operator, or tour guide, depending upon who was at fault. At Kaiser Romanello, our personal injury attorneys have over 25 years of combined experience navigating maritime law and sea-based injury accident claims. If you were injured on a boat due to an unexpected accident or collision, we can assist you with determining whether you have a viable claim. Kaiser Romanello provides free consultations to boat accident victims located throughout the state of Florida. To schedule an appointment with our experienced boat accident attorneys, contact Kaiser Romanello today.
FLORIDA BOATING LAWS
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation is responsible for passing rules and regulations pertaining to boat ownership and operation. The state of Florida is notorious for extremely lax boating laws, which contribute to the high rate of boating accidents annually. Below are some commonly violated Florida boating laws.
- Boats must be registered with a valid decal displayed on the bow. Exceptions to this requirement include non-motorized boats shorter than 16 feet, canoes, kayaks, row boats, and boats used exclusively in private lakes.
- To operate a boat, you must either take a boater education course or pass a boating exam. Proof of either is required on board, along with a photo ID, unless the operator is a U.S. Coast Guard member, operating on a private lake or supervised by a valid operator.
- Operators must be age 14 or older. However, an operator must be 18 to rent a boat of 10 horsepower or greater.
- Boating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is prohibited and carries stiff penalties, including jail time.
- Florida law prohibits reckless or careless operation, improper speed, exceeding the maximum loading or horsepower or riding on the bow, deck or gunwale.
BOAT COLLISION ACCIDENTS
Careless, negligent or reckless operation of a boat endangers the lives of those on the boat, as well as individuals in the water and on neighboring boats. When a boat collides with another boat or with a structure such as a dock, the operator of the boat may be civilly liable for damages. These damages can include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress.
Injuries caused by boat collisions can be catastrophic. Unlike a car, which provides seatbelts and airbags, passengers on boats are often times unsecured to the boat. During a collision, these passengers are violently thrown about the boat or even overboard. Common causes of collisions include:
- Boating under the influence
- Reckless or careless operation
- Poor weather conditions
- Untrained or uneducated boat operator
BOAT PASSENGER ACCIDENTS
In addition, injuries can occur even whether there has been no collision. Passengers on boats who are injured during routine operation of the vessel can seek compensation for damages if the harm they suffered was foreseeable to the boat operator. These accidents can involve:
- Slip and falls
- Wrongful death
If the boat operator is negligent in driving the boat, the operator can be held responsible for the ensuing accident. In addition, if the operator or boat owner is negligent in maintaining the boat, such as properly securing overhead items, providing life jackets or cleaning up spills, the operator can be sued for negligence if an accident occurs.
CRUISE SHIP ACCIDENTS
Florida is home to numerous ports utilized by popular cruise lines. Each year, millions of passengers embark on cruises. Cruise lines are labeled “common carriers,” meaning they offer services to the public under the authority of the U.S. maritime law. Under maritime law, an injured passenger may file a lawsuit for personal injuries suffered in a cruise ship accident if the cruise ship operator either knew or should have known about the dangerous condition or defect aboard the ship. These injuries can be caused by negligent operation of the cruise ship, unsafe conditions on deck or the negligence of cruise ship employees.
FLORIDA BOAT ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS PREPARED TO AGGRESSIVELY PURSUE COMPENSATION FOR YOUR INJURIES
Our experienced boat accident lawyers can pursue damages against large cruise lines, private charters, tour boats, and even individual operators. If you suffered injuries aboard a boat due to the negligence of another, do not hesitate to contact Kaiser Romanello today to schedule a free consultation.