Bradenton’s waterways are mesmerizing, and best of all, they’re everywhere. As a boat lover, you have your choice of beautiful rivers, pristine bays, and private inlets. From Egmont Key State Park to Longboat Key, Bradenton has an array of waterways perfect for navigating, sailing, or simply hanging out on a lazy, sunny day.
Water safety is the serious side of boating fun, but it’s critical to preserving your enjoyment. While most people operate their boats keeping safety in mind, less cautious boaters cause accidents. Some are minor collisions that simply disrupt your fun. Others cause serious or catastrophic injuries that often change the rest of your life.
Negligent boaters cause accidents due to actions that often mirror negligent drivers. Some boaters become distracted or they speed. Some fail to learn or exercise safe boating practices. Other boaters consume excess alcohol which reduces their ability to navigate safely. When a negligent boater causes an accident, the combination of crashing vessels and water has the potential to cause serious injuries or death. In most instances, the damages and injuries are preventable. If you or a loved one sustained a boating accident injury in or around Bradenton, seek immediate legal assistance from one of our Bradenton Boating Accident Lawyers.
Below, Dolman Law Group covers some of the most important aspects of boating accidents Bradenton residents should be aware of.
Negligent Boaters Must Pay For the Damages They Cause
At Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Attorneys, we are a small firm, but we deliver big firm results. Our personal injury attorneys have fought hard for our injured clients. We’ve done what was necessary to recover damages from negligent parties who caused our clients’ injuries.
We’ve always understood that boating accident cases were inherently complicated. They often involve Maritime and Admiralty Law regulations and include complex legal issues. Trying a boat accident case often requires federal court admittance.
When we work on behalf of our clients, we begin by clarifying the negligence issues and identifying the responsible parties. We dissect and analyze the applicable laws and evaluate our clients’ damages. We’ve always performed critical background work, evidence review, and case preparation. Our efforts have enabled us to produce optimum results for our injured clients, and we stand ready to provide these services to our friends and colleagues in the Bradenton community.
Our Firm’s Results
Our attorneys have always believed that recovering our clients’ damages required diligent effort. When possible, we have worked with negligent parties’ insurers. When they cooperated, we presented our client’s evidence and negotiated a fair settlement. We have resolved negligence cases through mediation and other Alternative Dispute Resolution forums. When required, we have prepared our clients’ cases and resolved our differences in a courtroom.
We can’t promise you a specific result, because each injury case involves a unique set of circumstances. However, we believe that our law firm’s results speak well on our behalf, so we proudly share our case results.
Boating Accidents and Injuries in Florida
The Recreational Boating Accident annual report is a joint effort of the Coast Guard and Homeland Security. It tracks boating accidents across the country. Compared to other states, Florida has had the highest number of boating accidents over the past five years.
The report also includes national boating casualty statistics.
- Nationally, 4,168 boating accidents took place in one recent year.
- 2,559 boaters and their passengers sustained injuries and 613 people sustained fatal injuries.
- Drownings comprised 79 percent of boating accident fatalities.
- 86 percent of the drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.
- Propellers caused 171 accidents, killing 35 people and injuring 155.
- In 2019, boating accidents caused $55 million in property damage nationwide.
- In 70 percent of boating accident fatalities, the operator had no safety training.
- Alcohol was the leading, known factor in fatal boating accidents.
Florida Boating Accident Statistics
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Division of Law Enforcement tracks and documents boating accidents that occur in Florida. Their statistics show:
- Florida boaters registered 961,266 vessels, more than any other state.
- Florida boat operators were involved in 723 reportable accidents during 2019.
- Florida had 58 fatal boating accidents in which 65 people died.
- 40 percent of the boating fatalities occurred in 23 accidents when the victims fell overboard.
- 453 people sustained injuries in 324 accidents.
- 80 percent of the operators involved in fatal accidents had no formal boating training.
Causes of boating accident injuries
When a boat accident occurs, inattention, inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol consumption, are often the primary, known operator errors.
Operator error and mechanical difficulty contributed to these and other types of injury-producing accidents.
- Collision with another vessel
- Struck by propellor
- Electrical shock
- Fuel and non-fuel fires and explosions
- Falling overboard
- Collision with a submerged or floating object
Types of Boats Involved in Accidents
Kayaks, motorboats and personal watercraft were involved in accidents more often than other vessels. Accidents also involved other types of waterborne craft.
- Stand-up paddle boats
Injury causation varies drastically, so the injuries vary as well. Injured boat operators and passengers sustained these and other serious, catastrophic, and fatal injuries.
- Limb amputation
- Spinal cord injury
- Internal injuries
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Drowning and near-drowning
Boating Accident Reports
Based on Federal guidelines, 33 CFR §173; Subpart C—Casualty and Accident Reporting, boating accidents are reportable to the Coast Guard. Florida Statutes Title XXIX, §327, Vessel Safety, also requires the operator to report the accident to the Florida Division of Law Enforcement of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. An operator must also file a report with the sheriff in the county where the accident occurred. If an operator commits a criminal boating violation, they must complete a mandatory boating education course.
A numbered vessel that doesn’t require inspection or a vessel used for recreation must report an accident if any of these circumstances occur.
- Someone dies
- Someone disappears from the vessel, and they may be deceased or injured
- An injured person requires more than first aid treatment
- An accident causes property damage in excess of $2,000
- The vessel is a complete loss
Who is Responsible for Injuries Sustained in a Boat Accident?
The person who causes a collision or other negligent incident is legally responsible for your injuries. If the boat owner has liability insurance, the insurer usually conducts an independent investigation. If they determine that their insured caused your injuries, they may negotiate a settlement. If the liability insurer doesn’t agree that their insured is at fault, you may have to prove your case in court or an ADR forum such as mediation.
When a mechanical defect causes or contributes to an accident, the boat manufacturer is often responsible. If you leased or rented the boat (43 percent of the accidents that occurred in Florida during 2019 involved rented personal watercraft.), the leasing or rental company shares liability, often with the manufacturer. If a mechanic worked on the boat and their faulty repairs contributed to the accident, the mechanic also shares liability.
Your Uninsured Boater Insurance Carrier
If you have a boat liability insurance policy, you may also have Uninsured Boater coverage. Florida doesn’t require boaters to purchase insurance. If you have liability coverage, your insurer may have added UIB coverage as well.
Uninsured Boater coverage works the same as Uninsured Motorist Coverage does for auto accidents. If an uninsured boater injures you in an accident, your company assumes responsibility for your injuries. They handle your claim the way the negligent party’s insurer would have handled it if he’d had insurance. Your insurer assesses your damages based on the negligent person’s liability. You negotiate your claim the way you would have negotiated it with the liability carrier.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover?
A person who is injured in a Bradenton boating accident is entitled to most of the same damages as in any other personal injury incident. If an injured person has evidence enough to prove another person caused their injuries, they recover economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are the total damages paid on your behalf for medical and other calculable costs. If you are still undergoing treatment, a settlement also includes future out-of-pocket costs.
Economic damages include:
- Income losses
- Doctor and hospital visits
- Mobility devices
- Mobility structures
- Scar revision surgery
- Rehabilitation services
- Medical transportation costs
- Household services
- Funeral and burial expenses
Non-economic or General damages pay for your emotional, psychological, and lifestyle issues.
Settlements rely on your assessment as to how these problems affected you since the accident.
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and distress
- Permanent disfigurement
- Physical impairment
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of consortium (spousal relationships)
- Loss of companionship with children
Negligent Parties Try to Avoid Paying For Your Injuries
Boaters Don’t Always Have Liability Coverage
The state doesn’t require boaters to purchase liability coverage. If a boater causes your accident and injures you or your passengers, there’s a strong possibility that they might not have insurance coverage to pay your damages. If a boater also has limited assets, you may never recover your damages.
Insurers Often Fail to Act Fairly
If a responsible party has liability insurance, the insurance company investigates the accident. They review the evidence and make an independent decision about paying your claim. Insurance companies represent their insureds. If they have doubts about their clients’ negligence, they simply deny liability and wait for you to take legal action. If you let the statute of limitations pass without negotiating a settlement or filing a suit, a liability carrier will close their claim file without making a payment.
When a boating accident occurs in navigable waters, federal courts usually have jurisdiction over the case. Federal statutes, rules, and court procedures are often complicated. You must still prove your case just as you would in a state court. You can only file a lawsuit if you work with an attorney who is admitted to practice law in federal court.
Trying a federal court case is usually more complicated than trying the same case in a state court. Sometimes insurers use this as a negotiation tool. They make an inadequate offer, believing it will motivate you to settle. They take a chance that you will opt for a fast cash settlement instead of paying discovery costs and trying a Maritime case in federal court.
Insurers Usually Defend Their Insured
When an insurer can’t convince you to accept a low offer, they sometimes choose to try the case. Some insurers limit their litigation costs by relying on staff attorneys for legal services. Staff attorneys usually receive a salary to try unlimited cases. When a staff attorney defends a liability case, the insurer pays only discovery expenses and court costs. They may take a chance and defend a case simply to avoid complying with your settlement demands.
At Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Attorneys, we’ve always believed that preparation was the key to winning our clients’ cases. We’ve produced results for our injured clients by reviewing the evidence, evaluating the damages, and choosing the best legal path available.
Bradenton Boating Accident FAQ
I was hurt in a boating accident in Bradenton. Who is responsible?
If you are injured or suffer harm in a boating accident in Bradenton and surrounding areas, it is very important to determine who or what was responsible for the accident—that is, who performed the actions that caused it to happen (or failed to perform actions that could have avoided it).
The reason is simple. Boating law centers around issues of negligence. Negligence is defined as a breach of the ordinary standard of care.
Let’s take a simple example—and one that is unfortunately all too common. A boat’s operator drinks too much alcohol, but still decides to steer the boat back to the marina after an afternoon on the water. The operator collides with another boat, injuring everyone on both boats and knocking two people into the water.
The duty of care for boat operators is to obey all boating laws and operate the boat prudently and safely. Driving a boat while drunk is just as dangerous as driving a car while drunk. In addition, operating a boat while impaired by alcohol (or other substances) is against Florida law. Impaired is defined as a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or above.
Thus the boat’s operator arguably breached the standard of care. He or she could be held liable, or financially responsible, for injuries and other harm suffered as a direct result of the accident.
This example illustrates the primary concepts surrounding negligence and liability.
Potential negligent parties in a boating accident include:
- Boat operators.
- Boat passengers, if they behave in such a way that causes an accident.
- People on the shore or surrounding areas, if they cause an accident.
- Boat manufacturers, if the accident occurs because of defects or other problems in the boat manufacture.
- Boat repair companies, if the accident occurs because of inadequate repair or the introduction of a problem during the repair process.
- Companies responsible for training and hiring boat crews (for example, cruise ships).
My medical bills keep piling up. Can I receive compensation for my injuries?
If you suffer injuries or other harm in a boat accident caused by negligence, the law allows you to seek damage compensation from the negligence party. If they have insurance, you could bring a claim to their insurance carrier.
However, while Florida recommends liability insurance, it does not require it. If the party responsible for your accident does not have insurance, talk to a lawyer about alternate methods of obtaining compensation.
You could also bring a suit for damages to court. The applicable court for boating accidents varies. In some cases, civil court for personal injury is appropriate. This is the same court that hears suits from victims of car accidents. But if the accident happens on public waterways, the jurisdiction is federal admiralty court, which operates under admiralty and maritime law. At Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman, our attorneys have experience in both personal injury and admiralty and maritime law.
Because of the complexities regarding jurisdiction, you should work with a lawyer who has experience in both personal injury and admiralty/maritime law. Our firm has both. Contact us today for more information about the proper jurisdiction for your claim, and what your legal options are.
What types of compensation can I seek?
Injured parties can often seek compensation in the following categories.
- Medical bills, both present and future – Emergency room treatment and transport, diagnostic tests, hospitalization, surgery, doctor’s appointments, prescription medications, and more.
- Income lost from work – Both present and future. You can obtain this if the accident, treatment, and recovery period require taking time off of work.
- Lifetime value of earnings – If the accident is incapacitating to the extent where it would not be possible to resume work at a former occupation or at all.
- Property damage – If personal property is lost or damaged.
- Pain and suffering – For physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering.
How much is the average boating accident case worth?
In assessing the damages you could receive, there is no “average” amount. Damage compensation is largely based on how much damage was done to you, the likelihood of a strong recovery from that damage, and how long symptoms will last if a strong recovery is not forecasted.
Medical bills, wages from work, lifetime earnings (if needed), and property damage are all economic damages. In other words, the compensation is determined by adding up the bills (in the case of medical bills), determining what would have been made from wages (either temporarily or in the course of a lifetime), and assessing how much damaged or lost personal property is worth.
If you are expected to need care in the future, experts in the field can give testimony on what the care should be. For example, if you broke both legs in such a way that multiple surgeries are needed, a physician in the field could testify to the advised course of treatment.
Then, a separate set of experts give testimony on the estimated expense of the future treatment, to arrive at a damage compensation figure.
If you are expected to need time off work in the future, the expert testimony is also used to forecast the amount of time similar victims have needed to recover.
So for economic damages, for example, your damage compensation might look like this:
- $3,000 in medical bills currently
- $4,000 in medical bills expected in the future
- $3,000 in lost wages from work
- $3,000 in lost wages from work expected in the future
- $2,000 in property damage
These add up to $15,000 in economic damages.
Pain and suffering, whether physical, emotional, or mental, is a non-economic category. Courts cannot quantify pain and suffering in the same way that one can quantify how much an emergency room charged you.
Contacting an attorney like those at Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman can help you calculate the noneconomic damages you could pursue—and keep the insurance company from lowballing you for them.
How could a lawyer help me?
Boating accidents are complicated for several reasons. Lawyers can help smooth each complication and help you pursue a just settlement.
Do not think a just settlement happens simply because you suffer injuries. The negligent parties, their insurance companies, and their lawyers might fight hard to see that you do not receive fair compensation. They can try to claim many things to get out of paying their fair share.
For example, they may claim that the accident did not cause your injuries. They may claim that if you followed medical advice more diligently, you would need less medical treatment and time off work. They may refuse to pay for the treatment and time you actually need. Frankly, in some cases, they may almost ghost you, refusing to return your calls or to give a clear explanation of what is happening.
Lawyers can deal with all these strategies. These are common strategies used by negligent parties and insurance companies in personal injury suits. We can refute claims and negotiate on your behalf to help you get the best results you can get.
Negotiating a just damage compensation amount, however, takes evidence of how the accident happened and who (or what) caused it. As a result, boating accidents often need investigation before the negligent party can be identified. Lawyers work with investigative teams and can help with investigations.
Lawyers can also gather evidence. Evidence of how a boating accident occurred and who or what caused it can be invaluable to an injured person in their case.
Potential evidence in boating cases includes:
- Crash reports from authorities (sheriffs, police, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission authorities, Coast Guard if relevant)
- Eyewitness reports of people not on the boats
- Eyewitness reports from people on the boats
- Pictures, videos, surveillance footage of the accident or the surrounding scene after the accident
- Reports on the nature and extent of injuries
- Diagnoses of the injuries and treatment recommendations
A just damage compensation amount also requires knowing how much your damages should equal. Lawyers can help you determine how much your medical bills tally up to, how much your time off work is, and the cost of your damaged or lost personal property.
Lawyers can use expert testimony to assess any future treatment or impact on work. They can also work with expert physicians and actuaries to determine the likely impact of injuries on a victim’s life, to assess what pain and suffering damage compensation should be.
Once lawyers determine fully whether the accident took place in public waterways, Florida property, or private property, they can determine the correct court system and set of applicable laws (either civil courts for personal injury law or federal courts for admiralty/maritime law). This is highly important since no damage compensation is possible without approaching the correct court system and set of laws.
Finally, lawyers provide you with an opportunity to discuss your case and get your questions answered before you officially hire someone. We offer a free consultation to discuss the facts of the accident, how you were injured, and what the consequences are. Consultations help the attorney get a better understanding of the circumstances and determine whether the case has a potential for success.
Our Bradenton boating accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis.
What should I bring to the first consultation?
A lawyer will look for the amount of injury and harm done to you, the consequences of that injury or harm, and the amount and type of evidence available (the latter could consist of evidence you have, such as pictures of your injuries, or evidence known as obtainable, such as a law enforcement report).
So come prepared to discuss all these factors. Make notes of what happened: who, what, when, where, why, and how. If you have evidence, bring it.
If you have attempted to obtain damage compensation previously, come prepared to discuss. Did you approach an insurance company? The negligent person? Their lawyer? Someone else? What happened? What was the upshot, and why?
If you or a loved one suffer injuries in a Bradenton boating accident…
If you or a loved one were hurt in a boating accident in Bradenton or the surrounding areas, contact Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman for legal help.
We offer experience in both personal injury and admiralty/maritime law, which not every law firm has. Work with lawyers who are dedicated to obtaining a just result for you.
Call Our Bradenton Boat Accident Attorneys Now
If you or a loved one sustained a boating accident injury in or around Bradenton, seek immediate legal assistance. At Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Attorneys, we have convenient legal offices on both Florida coasts. We’ve recovered millions in damages for our injured clients. Let us determine if we can help you win your case.
You can reach us by phone at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH). You may also complete our contact form to connect with an experienced Bradenton boating accident lawyer at any time.
6703 14th Street West Suite 207
Bradenton, FL 34207
Phone: (941) 961-8841
“AMAZING and understanding attorneys! Did great on my case and I highly recommend Dolman Law Group for anyone that has been injured in an accident!”
Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Read more reviews on Google!