While South Florida is famous for its beautiful beaches, savory sandbars, fine fisheries, its waterways are equally as popular. As a result, the shores and bays along the Florida coast are overcrowded with commercial vessels, cruise ships, recreational boats, jet skis, surfers, and more. The end result of this aquatic recreational trend is an ever-growing number of boating accident cases, with many of them involving serious personal injury or even death.
The Perazzo Law Firm provides professional legal representation for victims of all types of boating and personal watercraft accidents. Many boat and personal watercraft (jet-ski) owners lack navigational skills and fail to possess the proper experience to operate their vessels upon the navigable waters of the State of Florida. In a recent report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there were 714 reportable accidents from 2016 compared to 766 in 2017. There was also a rise in the number of registered boating vessels in Florida, which increased by 20,000 cases since 2016.
The first way to prevent serious injury from a boating accident is to be familiar with all the rules and regulations for boat owners and operators. There are specific rules governing the command or usage of boats and water vessels according to the location and even the time of year. South Florida waterways are not only shared with other boaters but also with marine life that is unique to Florida. A number of species such as rare turtles and endangered manatees are protected by laws. During migration or reproductive seasons laws and regulations limit the locations and the speeds for boats. Knowing these regulations can prevent an excessive fine or an injury from a collision with a large manatee. There are also laws regulating the type and amount of safety equipment that must be on board, such as long range communications equipment and life vests. In addition, there are laws limiting the amount of alcohol a boat operator may consume without running the risk of being charged with boating under the influence.
If personal injury occurs during a boating accident, safety becomes paramount. It is important to seek medical assistance as soon as possible. A common cause of injury in a boating accident involves brain injury from depriving the brain of oxygen in a drowning incident. Serious injuries such as bone fractures and concussions are also common when boat passengers fall or are thrown off the vessel in a collision with another boat or object. When safe to do so, document the accident by taking note of the vessel’s operator license, registration number, the location of the accident, the water and weather conditions at the time of the accident and the contact information for other individuals involved in the accident. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to read about a boat or jet-ski operator who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the accident occurred.
Following an injury in a boating accident, it is important to document the treatment of your injuries. We recommend keeping a diary where you can document frequency and type of treatment, any incurred expenses, missed work and the treatment progress. If a claim for damages is denied, it is important to have sufficient evidence to prove the expenses incurred as a result of a boating accident. With time, memories tend to fade and records may become lost, which the insurance companies use to avoid providing just compensation for the victims of boating accidents.
If you or a family member has been the victim of a boating accident you should contact us immediately to protect your rights. Contact us online or call us at (786) 529-7411 to set up a FREE consultation.Basic Boating Laws
There are certain rules and regulations for individuals that own or operate boats in Florida waterways. Nevertheless, these laws don’t always keep accidents from happening, and when they do, there is usually serious personal injury involve that requires professional counsel. If any of these laws are violated and accidents ensue, victims may be entitled to receive compensation for their injuries or losses, which our personal injury attorney will strive to secure.
Florida law requires that individuals under the age of 21 must take an approved boating safety course and be awarded a boating safety ID card to operate a boat with 10 horsepower or more. They must also carry the ID card and a photo ID issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
- All water vessels that operate using mechanical propulsion devices such as: fuel or electric powered outboards) must be registered.
- Individuals that operate a vessel with negligent disregard for the safety of persons or property are liable for personal injury and or losses to victims.
- Individuals are obliged by law to respect the safe navigation of other vessels and steer clear of established fishing areas.
- Boat operators may not amoor or attach a vessel to a buoy (other than a mooring buoy), beacon, light, or any other navigational aid placed on public waters by proper authorities.
- Boat operators must prevent personal injury incidents by not allowing passengers to ride on the bow, gunwale, transom, seat backs, seats on raised decks, or any other part of the vessel where a passenger can fall overboard.
- The use of Life jackets is mandatory for children under 6 years of age (USCG-approved Type I, II or III personal flotation device) at all times while on a vessel under 26 feet in length. Additionally, all those aboard a PWC or being towed must wear a USCG-approved PFD.
- There are strict laws for operating a water vessels under the influence of alcohol. A vessel operator is presumed to be under the influence if their blood or breath alcohol level is at or above .08.
If you or a family member has suffered personal injury in an accident involving a water vessel, you should contact us immediately to learn whether you are entitled to legal compensation. Contact us online or call us at (786) 529-7411 to set up a FREE consultation.