According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), there were 766 boating accidents in Florida in 2017 which was 52 more than the previous year. That statistic includes 67 fatalities. Whether you are boating on one of Florida’s lakes, on the Atlantic, or on one of the 300 miles of waterways woven throughout the Greater Fort Lauderdale area, safety is a must. In 2017, 63 boating accidents occurred in Broward County, making it the county with the third highest number of boating accidents in Florida.
With more than 40,000 resident yachts, you may find yourself involved in a boating accident in the Ft. Lauderdale area. If you haven’t dealt with this harsh reality, make safety on your boat a priority to avoid accidents. If you have been the victim of a boating accident or the cause, it may be advisable to hire an attorney as soon as possible.
The skilled lawyers at Sibley Dolman’s Ft. Lauderdale office may be able to help you recover compensation. For a free consultation call (754) 208-1130.
What Kind of Injuries Can Occur in a Boating Accident?
Boating accidents can lead to injuries and sometimes death. The FWC reports that falling overboard is the most common type of fatal boating accident in Florida, with drowning the number one cause of death. Other injuries that may occur in a boating accident include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Back, neck, and spinal injuries
- Hypothermia and shock
Who May Be at Fault for Boating Accidents?
Boat operators may be held liable for injuries or fatalities from a boating accident. Here are some scenarios where boat operators may be held at fault for injuries sustained in a boating accident:
- The boat operator was distracted. In 2017, boat operator inattention was the number one cause of accidents, with the most frequent type of accident a collision with another vessel. Perhaps the driver was talking on the phone or chatting with a passenger while driving and missed a potential hazard.
- The boat operator was inexperienced. Anyone born after January 1st, 1988 is required to carry a Boater Safety Education Card to legally operate a boat in Florida. Completing a boater safety class is required to get the card and is important to maintain safety on Florida’s waterways, but it does not substitute for experience.
- The boat had mechanical problems. If something doesn’t work or breaks on a boat because the operator didn’t fix it and ignored the problem, he can be held liable for injuries caused by that issue.
- The boater was operating too fast. Excessive speed makes it difficult to see hazards, which makes it one of the most common reasons for boat collisions.
What Kind of Damages Might be Recovered When a Boating Accident Injury Happens?
Damages that you may be able to recover from a boating accident are not much different than any other accident that causes you personal injury. Potential damages that you may recover include:
- medical expenses
- pain and suffering
- loss of wages during recovery
- loss of companionship in the case of wrongful death
- loss of earning capacity that accompanies severe injuries
What Ways Do Those Liable Try to Get Out of Paying Their Fair Share?
In the State of Florida, boat operators are not required to carry insurance, although liability insurance is strongly recommended.
Additionally, if you sustained injuries in a boating accident, your own insurance company may not pay your medical costs if you are not properly covered.
Consequently, it may be helpful to seek legal advice if you have been injured in a boating accident to protect against boat owners/operators and insurance companies going out of their way to avoid paying claims. This is especially important because Florida is a “pure comparative negligence” state, which means that you can only recover the percentage of damages that the responsible party is considered at fault.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost Me?
If you, or someone who you love, has been injured in a recreational boating accident, experienced legal advice can help. Let your lawyer worry about the details of your case, while you focus on your recovery. In the United States, any accident that occurs on a public waterway falls under federal admiralty and/or maritime law. This means your case will most likely need to come to a Florida federal court, which employs different procedures than state courts. The knowledgeable team at Sibley Dolman’s Ft. Lauderdale office is experienced with maritime law and understands how to approach boating accident injury cases. Call (754) 208-1130 or write to us using our online contact form for a free consultation.
100 SE 3rd Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33394
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