Boat Accidents in Florida – A Quick Guide
Orlando Boating Accidents
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), there are over 1 million registered boats in the state. Unfortunately, having more boats out on the water means that there is a higher chance of accidents. In 2020 alone, officials counted 836 boating accidents in Florida, which resulted in the deaths of 79 people and more than 534 injuries.
Boat accidents are particularly dangerous because, in addition to common injuries (such as traumatic brain injuries), there is a high risk of drowning involved. Boating accidents are also harder to investigate, so determining fault can be a challenge.
This guide can help you better understand Florida boating laws and the resources available to you in the event of an accident.
I had a boat accident. What should I do?
The first thing to do after a boat accident is to remain calm. See if anyone is injured or if there is a risk of sinking. If someone needs medical attention, call 911 or the Florida Coast Guard immediately.
Never leave the site unless your life is at risk. In Florida, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident without first reporting it to the FWC, the county sheriff, or the police chief of the municipality where the incident occurred. Be sure to report the accident to the authorities after seeking medical help!
Keep in mind that Florida law also mandates that you offer assistance to anyone who needs it and exchange information with the other party involved. Once you have reported the boat accident and exchanged information, call our boating accident attorneys at First Choice Law!
How is liability determined in a boat accident?
Since examining the area of the boat accident is not always possible, cases are often resolved by determining whether there was negligence on the part of any of the operators involved.
Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, which means that both operators may be found partially at fault for the boating accident. If it is determined that you were more than 50% at fault, you will not be able to file a claim against the other operator.
Visit our blog to learn about What is Comparative Negligence and How Can It Affect Your Case
How do I know if I have been negligent?
You will most likely be found negligent and held liable for the boat accident if you failed to provide proper safety equipment, if you were speeding, or if you were operating the boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you took the boat out during poor weather (fog, high winds, etc.) or if your boat is not properly maintained, you could also be considered negligent.
Other factors influencing these cases include:
- Type and size of the boat(s) involved.
- Boat traffic in the area.
- Whether or not you alerted your passengers about an impending collision.
Can I recover damages after a boat accident in Florida?
If you can prove that the accident was caused by the negligence of the other operator, you can claim damages for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Permanent or temporary disability
- Pain and suffering
Who is liable in a wake and wave accident?
Wake and wave accident cases are the most complicated, as it is necessary to carefully analyze the situation to determine whether you are liable or not.
For example, if boat density is high and you generate wakes by speeding, you may be held liable if someone else suffers an accident. On the other hand, if you followed all safety protocols and still hit a submerged object, you will most likely not be held liable.
Your best option is to contact a team of experienced personal injury lawyers to discuss the details and receive the advice you need. Jason Recksiedler has been certified as expert in trial law by the Florida Bar and has successfully handled many boat accident cases in the past. Call us today!
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