Boating Accidents are a Year-Round Threat in Florida

February 8, 2018 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Boating Accidents are a Year-Round Threat in Florida

Florida is famous for its temperate climate, sunny weather all year, and the lifestyle this enables its residents to enjoy. Recreational water sports are always in season. Unfortunately, this also means that Floridians face year-round risks of boating accidents. Consult with an experienced Clearwater boat accident attorney if you have been injured on the water. At the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we have a highly-skilled staff of experienced attorneys. They have been protecting the legal rights of Clearwater injury victims for decades.

Who is Legally Responsible for Compensating Injuries From a Boating Accident?

As with any accident, the person who is legally responsible (“liable”) for causing a boat accident also has a legal obligation to compensate victims of that accident for their injuries and financial losses. Often, the person liable for causing a boat accident will be the person who was operating the boat at the time of the incident. In the case of a collision between two (or more) boats, each operator may bear a portion of liability, or one operator may be found fully liable for causing the accident.

Of course, boat accidents are not always caused by a simple act of negligence by the operator. Weather plays a major part in many boating accidents. Sometimes this is a foreseeable risk which the operator and passengers should know to avoid. Other times, the weather changes quickly, and the risk is not necessarily foreseeable. Drowning is also a major cause of boat accident fatalities. When a passenger goes overboard, this may or may not be due to negligence by the operator. Malfunctioning safety equipment may increase the risk of drowning when a passenger goes overboard. In such a case, a negligent manufacturer may be liable for products liability, if it negligently designed or manufactured a product which was sold to consumers.

In certain cases, parents may also be liable for negligent boating behavior by their minor children. Negligent entrustment is a legal doctrine by which a parent becomes liable for injuries caused by a dangerous instrument which their child used with permission. This is most often applied to teen drivers using their parents' vehicles, but can also be applied to teen boaters using a family watercraft. If a teen is using the boat with permission, the parents have entrusted that dangerous instrument to him or her. If a child is particularly young, immature, or inexperienced at boating, this can increase the likelihood that a parent's entrustment with the dangerous instrument was negligent.

Real Florida Families Who Have Been Affected By Boating Accidents

Boating accidents have very real and devastating consequences for the family members and friends of victims. Near Clewiston, a pair of fishermen went missing during a tournament. People reports that the two had encountered rough waters and struck a wave. The elder fisherman was able to swim to shore, but the younger fisherman drowned. His body was found nearly a week later in Lake Okeechobee.

Another fatal boat accident in Niceville resulted in a criminal investigation by law enforcement agents. According to Northwest Florida Daily News, boat operator Jackie C. Mott of Valparaiso faces criminal charges as a result of a boat accident that claimed the life of one of her passengers and injured two others. The boat collided with a channel marker in the Choctawhatchee Bay on July 19, 2017. The investigation conducted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission determined that the operator contributed to the accident by being inattentive and failing to keep a proper lookout.

The Northwest Florida Daily New report also contained details of another boat collision which killed a young boater, 18, from Texas. Her personal watercraft collided with a thirty-foot boat operated by an elderly boater, 76, from Shalimar. The Fish and Wildlife Commission determined that both boaters contributed to the accident by being inattentive. The victim also violated navigational rules. She was wearing a life vest, but this did not save her when she was ejected from her watercraft during the accident.

A Fort Myers man was also ejected from his watercraft and killed in a boating accident in 2017. NBC 2 reports that the boat hit a sandbar off Pine Island near Hemp Key. The victim was thrown from the boat before being run over by it. Rescuers had a difficult time getting to the scene of the accident due to the shallow water. The victim was eventually transported to the Pineland Marina but was unable to be saved. This December accident was the ninth fatal boat accident of 2017 in just Lee County.

Yet another Florida boater was killed after being ejected from his watercraft in Boynton Beach. According to the Palm Beach Post, the death was the result of a “freak accident” in which the boater hit his head on a bridge, and was thrown from the boat as a result. Friends on the boat dove in the water in an attempt to save him. The victim could not, however, be located immediately, and it took emergency divers further attempts to locate him. The victim was transported to Delray Medical Center where he died the next morning.

And on Crooked Lake, a Lake Wales woman died on New Year's Day when the airboat she was riding on struck a barbed wire fence. The Ledger reports that the victim died on the scene. Three other passengers on the boat – including a minor child – were treated for injuries sustained in the accident. This, too, is yet another reminder of the severity of the consequences of a boat collision. Medical trauma, drowning, and other fatal injuries are all potential consequences of a boat collision.

The Right Representation For Your Boat Accident Case

The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA protects residents and visitors of Clearwater to ensure that boat accident victims are fairly compensated for their injuries and losses. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have decades of experience in negotiating and litigating personal injury claims arising from boat accidents in and around the Clearwater area. Call (727) 477-9660 to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Our friendly, professional staff offers the personalized service which will help you through this difficult time.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 5435 Main Street New Port Richey, FL 34652 (727) 477-9660


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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