Boating Accident FAQ

Statistics show that more boating accidents occur each year in Florida than in any other state. Thousands of serious boating accident injuries or fatalities happen annually off the Florida coasts making boats, jet skis and other vessels just as dangerous as cars.

The three most common types of boat accidents are collisions with other vessels, collisions with fixed objects such as a pier or passengers falling overboard. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the most common causes of boat accidents include: alcohol use, careless or reckless operation, excessive speed, hazardous waters, operator inattention and operator inexperience. Under Florida law, boating operators and boat owners must display a great deal of responsibility and care in order to insure that swimmers, other boats, boat passengers and others are not injured, killed or hurt.

Frequently Asked Questions

What constitutes a boating accident?

A boating accident centers on injuries or accidents involving a boat or ship. One example of a ship or boating accident would involve injuries sustained as the result of a cruise ship’s staff. Another example of a boating accident would involve the reckless driving of a motorboat or other aquatic vehicle. According to the United States Coast Guard, a boating accident occurs when one of the following scenarios transpires:

  • A person on a boat dies or becomes injured beyond the help of first aid.
  • A person on a boat disappears and death or injury is suspected.
  • A vessel causes or sustains damage.

What do I do after a ship or boating accident?

You are required to report the accident to the police or to coastal authorities if you are involved in a ship or boating accident and the monetary damage to the vessel appears to be $500 or more. After reporting the accident, it is advisable that you speak with a boating accident attorney at our firm to learn about your legal entitlements.

When must a boating accident report be filed?

A causality or accident report must be submitted to the reporting authority if any of the following occurs:

  • A person dies
  • A person disappears under circumstances that indicate death or injury
  • A person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Damage to the vessel and property is greater than $500
  • Complete loss of vessel

What types of boats are typically involved in watercraft accidents?

Typically, powerboats such as runabouts or cabin cruisers are involved. However, another frequent source of watercraft accidents involves personal watercraft also known as “jet skis.” Sailboats are less frequently involved.

What types of injuries occur in watercraft accidents?

The most frequent sources of injuries are propeller injuries and collisions. Because personal watercraft or “jet skis” can’t be steered when the throttle is released, inexperienced drivers often have a collision when confronted with an emergency. Death can occur either from a collision or from a person falling over the side and drowning.

What are the common causes of boating injuries and fatalities?

Carelessness or reckless operation or inexperience of the boat operator, such as excessive speed or failing to keep a proper lookout, alcohol consumption by the operator of the boat and weather can result in capsizing, falls overboard and collision with another vessel. Restricted vision, hazardous waters, equipment failure or engine failure can also play a part.

Can the driver of a boat who acts in an irresponsible unsafe manner be held liable for causing an accident?

Yes, boating rules require safe operation of a boat and prescribe how boats should pass one another and the use of proper safety equipment. If a driver violates these rules, they may be held liable for any injuries or death that results.

What is the Statute of Limitations for boating accidents?

This depends upon where the accident occurred and whether it is subject to Federal Maritime law or state laws. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible so that any Statute of Limitations does not expire and prevent a recovery.

Should I contact an attorney if I have been injured in a boating accident?

Yes. An attorney can quickly determine the facts and also preserve evidence that may be critical to determining why a watercraft accident occurred.

If you have a question that was not covered in the above Frequently Asked Questions or if your question was not fully answered, call or contact us today for additional information.

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