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The Dangers of Airboat Accidents

Many different types of boating accidents injure Florida residents every year. When the media provides extensive coverage to commercial cruise ships, private yachts, and other newsworthy accidents, it can be easy to forget that airboats are among the least regulated watercrafts on the waterways of Florida. If you or a loved one has been injured in an airboat accident, consult with a Clearwater boat accident attorney as soon as possible. The experienced lawyers at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can help you protect your legal rights after any type of boating accident.

The Celebration that Ended in Tragedy

The family of one Miami college student learned a painfully tragic lesson about the lack of airboat regulations in Florida. The Miami Herald reports that the Goldenberg family of Pennsylvania came to Miami to celebrate their daughter’s graduation from the University of Miami. The day after the ceremony, the family took an airboat tour of the Everglades. The entire family and the boat operator were thrown from the boat when it tipped after trying to pass a vessel in front of it. Ellie, just 22 and only a day after receiving her college degree, became trapped under the boat and eventually drowned. The boat operator was later found to have been under the influence of cannabis at the time of the accident. A criminal investigation is ongoing.

Turning Tragedy Into Hope For Others

Ellie’s grieving father learned shortly after the accident that the commercial airboat industry in Florida is poorly regulatedHe has since pushed state legislators to change laws to promote airboat safety across Florida. Both the state Senate and House of Representatives have introduced airboat safety bills which are proceeding through subcommittee votes unimpeded. The Florida Airboat Association also supports such legislation. It appears that Ellie’s Law will soon increase regulations for airboat operators within state boundaries. Representative Joseph Abruzzo of Boynton Beach opines that “Ellie’s tragedy will save lives in the state of Florida.”

The proposed legislation would require the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to establish standards for airboat operator courses. Operators would also be required to be certified in CPR and first aid. Violations of these rules would subject operators to a civil penalty of at least a $500 fine. Until there are set regulations, however, injury victims face a far more complicated process of seeking civil justice, which has a less certain chance of success.

How Can Airboat Injury Victims Seek Reimbursement for the Injuries and Financial Losses?

Victims who have been injured by the negligence of another have the right to be compensated for all losses which were caused by such negligence. Some victims are able to negotiate a fair settlement offer for these losses with the defendant’s insurance company. This is what often happens in a car accident case: the victim proves that the defendant was negligent and that his or her insurance company is obligated to provide compensation for injuries and financial losses as a result. If the insurance company denies that its driver was negligent or fails to make a fair settlement offer which fully compensates the victim’s losses, the injured party can file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. It is then left for a jury to determine whether the defendant was negligent and if so, the value of the plaintiff’s losses.

Victims of boat injuries are compensated through the same basic process. They, too, can file claims with the insurance carrier for a negligent boat operator or commercial boating company. Unfortunately, Florida law does not currently require airboat operators to maintain liability coverage. Unlike drivers, they may operate their vehicles on the waterways of Florida without any such protection for victims. This can make it difficult for an injury victim to find a source of compensation. An experienced boat accident attorney can help victims identify alternate sources of income which can help them access the compensation to which they are entitled by law.

It can also be more difficult to prove negligence in a boating case than in a car accident case. Florida drivers are subject to dozens of traffic laws which proscribe safe driving habits. Violations of these clear rules can serve as evidence which enables a victim to prove that the driver was negligent. Without such clear regulations for airboat operators, it can be difficult for a boat injury victim to prove that the airboat operator was negligent. The fact that an accident occurred is not enough to prove that a boat operator was negligent. Rather, the injury victim must prove that the operator failed to act as the “reasonably prudent” boat operator would have under similar circumstances and conditions. This is a difficult task which often requires the experience of a seasoned litigator.

Despite these challenges, it is important that airboat injury victims hold operators responsible for the injuries they cause. Without clear regulations in place, it is left to victims to hold airboat operators accountable for unsafe behaviors. An airboat accident can result in liability for a boat operator, a tour company which employs the negligent operator, an events coordinator who advertising or promotes the unsafe event, and other such companies and individuals responsible for placing the victim in an unsafe situation.

The Right Representation for Your Boat Accident Case

If you have been the victim of a Florida boat accident, you face many challenges to the successful pursuit of your personal injury claim. Nonetheless, the advice of an experienced attorney can help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled under Florida law. The Sibley Dolman Gipe 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) 451-6900 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.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 472-3909