Boat Accidents

Personal Injury Lawyer

Boating is a fun, relaxing hobby that millions of Americans enjoy every year. In southern states like Florida, residents, and tourists spend much of their time on the water fishing, sailing, exploring local hot spots or riding jet skis.  

Like any other hobby or pastime, accidents do happen. Many people underestimate the dangers of a watercraft and because in most states, licenses are not required to operate watercraft, so boat operators are often inexperienced and uneducated. Being unfamiliar with local waters, traveling too fast, and ignoring bad weather are a few factors that can contribute to a boating accident. When an accident does occur, injuries vary dramatically and can be mild or severe. Slip and falls, drowning, broken bones, head injuries, respiratory infections and spinal injuries are among a few of the potential injuries a person can face in a boating accident. If you are injured on a boat, you should know your rights and options to recover damages from the liable party.

Like many personal injury claims, to recover damages related to an injury, there has to be proof that the injury resulted from someone else’s negligence. It is important to always consult with a personal injury lawyer who can help build a case to prove that someone failed to act with reasonable care. Aboard a boat, some examples of negligence can include collision with another boat, hitting another boat’s wake, hitting a wave, or hitting a submerged object.  

When two boats collide, usually both boat operators are somewhat at fault for the collision. If you are injured due to a collision, there is the potential to have a case against one or both of the boat operators. Boating laws and rules like right of way and whether a boat was under sail or under power will play a role in determining which party will be held liable. Boat collisions can be deadly, and it is important that the operator of the boat is always driving the boat safely.

When injured due to hitting another boat’s wake, hitting a large wave, or hitting a submerged object like a rock or sandbar, fault isn’t as clear cut as in a boat collision. Sometimes accidents happen even when the boat operator is acting with reasonable care. Federal and state boating laws dictate that a boat operator must keep a proper look out for safety hazards. Factors that contribute to proving whether or not the boat operator was acting negligently will include the size of the wake or wave, the speed of the boat, other traffic in the area if boating charts display the submerged object or sandbar, and if the boat operator gave their passengers warning of a big wake or wave.

To help protect themselves against a potential lawsuit, boat operators can take steps to ensure the safety of their passengers. Carrying and maintaining all federal and state-required safety equipment like life jackets, navigation lights fire extinguishers could save a boat operator from being found negligent. A boat operator should stay hydrated, refrain from drinking alcohol, and not operate the boat while fatigued.

Many states, like Florida, do not require boaters to carry an insurance policy. This poses a problem for a person injured on a boat and looking to recover damages for their injuries. A boating accident could result in medical bills, property damage, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering. Often, the claim ends up being against an individual person rather than an insurance company which can limit compensation for damages.  

If you are injured in a boating accident, it is important to consult an experienced boating accident lawyer to help you recover the damages you deserve. Lawsuits involving watercraft can be complicated and an attorney will know how to effectively guide you through the process.

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