Florida has more registered vessels than any other state, reports the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). With this number of registered boats comes accidents, injuries, and fatalities. If another party was responsible for your boating accident, you can and should hold that party liable. A boat accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale from the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine can help.
What are the leading types and causes of boating injuries and fatalities in Florida?
Boating accidents are all too common in Florida, and especially in Broward County. Broward County had the third highest rate of accidents (57) in the entire state in 2015, per FWC statistics.
The following are some of the most common types of accidents and injuries:
- Collisions with other vessels and fixed objects
- Falls overboard
- Being struck by a boat
- Falls aboard the boat
Some of the top causes of these accidents and injuries are:
- Inattention/improper surveillance
- Machinery failure
- Reckless or careless operation
Alcohol also played a part in 19 percent of fatal accidents. Most of these causes stem from negligence.
Who is liable in a boat accident in Florida?
The person who acted negligently and caused the harm is liable, but this can be difficult to prove in a boat accident. In a car accident, you have roadways with clearly marked lanes. You have signs and traffic signals. It is easier to determine who had right of way and who was at fault. On the water, this can be more difficult to establish and prove.
Our team will investigate and determine all liable parties.
Who is negligent in a boat accident?
Negligence is an important legal concept. If you can show that someone was negligent, you can pursue a claim against him. For purposes of boat accident in Florida, you would need to show:
- He had a legal duty toward you, e.g., to operate a vessel in a reasonably safe manner.
- He violated (breached) this legal duty, e.g., was reckless or careless.
- His breach was the cause of the accident.
- Your injuries were the result of the accident.
Reckless operation means operating a “vessel with willful disregard for the safety of people or property.” Careless operation is when a person fails to meet his responsibilities when operating a vessel. The responsibilities of operating a vessel in Florida include:
- Operating the vessel in a reasonable and prudent manner
- Having regard for other vessel traffic
- Following posted restrictions
- Observing and exercising caution in the presence of a divers-down flag
- In all circumstances, not endangering people or property
For example, Tony was returning his speedboat to its place in the marina. In an attempt to impress his friends, he violated the posted speed limit signs inside the marina. He lost control of his boat and crashed into another boat that was traveling at a safe speed, below the posted speed limit. Several people on the other boat were injured, as well as some people on Tony’s boat.
Tony had a responsibility to operate his vessel in a reasonable and prudent manner, with regard for other vessel traffic, following posted restrictions, and not endangering people or property. He failed to meet these responsibilities, which renders him guilty of the criminal violation of careless operation of a vessel. In addition, he operated his vessel in willful disregard for the safety of others, which renders him guilty of the criminal violation of reckless operation of a vessel.
Tony’s reckless and careless operation of his vessel was a breach of his legal duty toward the people on both boats. His breach was the cause of the accident and the injuries. Tony will be legally liable for the injuries and the property damage. The injured people on both boats can file claims against him for their losses. The owner of the boat Tony crashed into can file a claim against Tony for property damage as well.
How are boat accidents different than car accidents?
There are quite a few differences between car and boat accidents. First, the rules are different, although the basic tenet of driving/boating safely applies in either situation. Your case might be subject to maritime or state laws depending on where your accident occurred.
Second, jurisdiction matters. The accident location might determine where you must file your claim or suit.
Our attorneys have decades of experience handling boating accident claims. We know how these cases differ and can help you understand the process.
Do I need a lawyer’s help to file a boating accident claim?
While a boating accident lawyer is not required to file a claim, the process is complex and can seem impossible to anyone who has not previously navigated the process.
Our Fort Lauderdale boat accident lawyers are well-versed in the laws and rules that apply to boat accident claims in Florida. These claims are complex and specialized. We will investigate your claim to determine who is liable for your injuries. We will collect the evidence needed to prove your claim, including medical bills, accident reports and proof of lost wages. We will deal directly with the insurance company so you do not have to.
If you have been injured in a boat accident, the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine is here to help you. These are difficult cases, and you should have someone with experience on your side. We do not charge to talk with you. Call us today at 800-747-3733 for your free, no-obligation consultation.