Legal Guidance for Injured Individuals in the West Palm Beach Area
West Palm Beach is the county seat of Palm Beach County, where boating is popular and the marine industry thrives. It is home to the Palm Beach International Boat Show, which attracts yacht enthusiasts from around the world. Three square miles of the city are made up of water. Like car crashes, boating accidents may lead to severe injuries or even death. According to the United States Department of Transportation, Florida has the highest number of boating fatalities in the country. A failure to use reasonable care while boating for fun—such as by drinking and boating or using excessive speed—can have tragic consequences. At Anidjar & Levine, our boat accident attorneys can help people in the West Palm Beach area assert the right to compensation from any parties responsible for their injuries or a loved one’s death.
Holding Negligent Defendants Liable for Damages
In Florida, it is unlawful to operate a boat in a reckless or dangerous way. For example, it is reckless to go boating in restricted areas without paying attention to other boaters, people in the water, wake restrictions, or posted speeds. Similarly, operating a boat at higher speeds than are prudent based on the weather and traffic is illegal, even if you stay within the posted speed limit.
As a boater, you must also make sure your vessel is safely loaded and not overpowered. It is unlawful to allow passengers to ride on the bow, gunwale, raised deck, or other area of the boat where there is a chance of falling overboard. It is also illegal to boat under the influence. You cannot use any boating vessel or device while intoxicated due to alcohol or drugs. A person can be convicted of a felony for causing injuries or death while boating under the influence.
After a boating accident, injuries may range from minor scratches to catastrophic, permanent injuries such as paralysis. If they are more like the latter, the prospect of lifelong medical bills and care can be daunting. You can potentially pursue compensatory damages for your injuries. Plaintiffs harmed by negligent boaters must establish four elements by a preponderance of the evidence. These are the defendant’s duty of care, the defendant’s breach of duty, causation connecting the breach to the accident and injuries, and actual damages.
For example, a boat operator who gets so drunk that he steers into another boat, resulting in injuries to the other boat’s passengers, probably has breached the duty to use reasonable care on the water. Similarly, a person who speeds his motorboat in a swimming area where boats are not supposed to go and loses control of the motorboat, colliding with a swimmer, probably can be held liable for damages.
If the defendant was convicted of boating under the influence, negligence per se will probably apply. This means that the defendant is presumed negligent by law, and you may not need to prove duty or breach of duty, but only causation and damages. An injured plaintiff may be able to recover compensatory damages such as medical expenses, lost income, loss of earning capacity, vocational rehabilitation, loss of enjoyment, and pain and suffering. While economic damages tend to remain fixed no matter who is evaluating them, a plaintiff’s noneconomic damages may vary depending on the subjective impressions of the jurors.
Consult a West Palm Beach Attorney for Your Accident Claim
Boating accidents may include motorboat crashes, drunk boating collisions, accidents on jet skis, passengers falling overboard, and sailing accidents. If you are hurt on the water near West Palm Beach or the surrounding cities, the experienced injury lawyers at Anidjar & Levine may be able to represent you in a lawsuit for damages. We also represent accident victims in communities throughout Palm Beach County, such as Boynton Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Boca Raton, and Royal Palm Beach. For a free consultation, call us at 800-747-3733 or contact us via our online form.