Boating Accidents Lawyer in Florida

Whether you are on the ocean, a river, or a lake, boating is a recreational activity that many people enjoy. When a boating accident in Florida happens, however, the mood changes quickly. Boating accidents can cause serious harm, including property damage and bodily injury. Getting the compensation and legal representation you deserve is critical to recovery.

At Rodriguez & Williamson, PLLC, our personal injury lawyer in Tampa understands how boating accidents can change lives. We help injured parties recover as best they can by persevering until they receive fair and just compensation. Contact us at 813-320-7500 to schedule a Free and learn more about the potential remedies that may be available in your specific case.

Causes of Boating Accidents in Florida

Boating accidents do not happen in a vacuum–something or someone causes the accident that ultimately leads to injuries or fatalities. Here's a summary of the most common types of boating accidents in Florida.

Alcohol Use

Families, friends, and even people on their own go out on their boats to enjoy time on the water. Many times as part of that enjoyment, alcohol is involved. The mix of sun and alcohol – even if consumption of alcohol does not exceed the lawful blood alcohol content (BAC) limit – can cause impairment. An impaired operator of a boat can be dangerous and lead to serious and deadly accidents. Plus, some situations may lead to criminal charges – intoxicated driving laws in most states apply to all automobiles, and that includes boats with engines.

Distractions

When family and friends are having a good time out on a boat, whoever is operating the boat may get distracted. Friends and family, however, are not the only distractions. An operator of a boat may turn their attention to the radio, their electronics, or even things like watching jet skiers or a beautiful sunset. Whatever it is, it is easy enough for an operator to lose focus on the boat and the surroundings to pay attention to something else, and because of that inattention – however momentary it is – can lead to accidents. 

Driver Inexperience

Laws vary state to state on what type of experience, if any, an operator of a boat must have. Oftentimes, those requirements depend on the type of boat, too. Operating a boat may seem relatively easy, like driving a car, but there are boat safety matters that may vary from operating a boat compared to operating a vehicle. Knowing the rules and regulations, too, aids a person in the safe operations of a boat. Consider, too, that it is not just you and the boat on the water; there are other boaters, swimmers, jet skiers, and wildlife. Failure to get the right education on boat operations and safety can lead to mistakes that lead to accidents.

Fatigue

Like operating any vehicle, including a boat, fatigue is a problem for proper and safe boat operation. Fatigue can happen simply from being in the sun, but if you have been in the sun all day and swimming or sunbathing, it can all take a toll. Fatigue and operating anything, from a car to machinery to a boat, is always dangerous. 

Reckless Actions

Reckless actions by boat operators or passengers can lead to accidents. Recklessness occurs when you do something that you know or should know poses serious risks. Examples of reckless include:

  • Overloading the boat with too many people
  • Boating in a swimming area
  • Using speed that is inappropriate under the circumstances (e.g., visibility restricted)
  • Using excessive speed in crowded areas
  • Operating while sleepy or under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Speeding

If you have a boat that can go fast, that's part of the lure and fun of the open water. But speeding is dangerous, even if you are the only boat in a one-mile radius. Like driving, accidents that result from speeding are often more serious and tragic than accidents that occur at lower speeds. The risk of more serious impact or collision is greater.

Defective Equipment

Boats are products. When a product or a product part is defective, it can lead to accidents. To research or report a boat safety defect, visit the U.S. government's database on boat recalls. Examples of defective boats or defective boat parts can involve any of but are not limited to the following:

  • Battery chargers
  • Diving gear
  • Electrical systems
  • Engine components
  • Fishing vessel equipment
  • Fuel pump cracks
  • Fuel system line leaks
  • Navigational equipment (radars, rudders, etc.)
  • Pilot ladders
  • Railings
  • Ship lift or loading equipment
  • Ship conveyer belt
  • Throttles
  • Steering arms
  • Wenches or winches

Equipment Failure

Boats must be maintained regularly. Failure to stay current on your boat's maintenance can cause equipment to fail, and depending on what the failure is, an accident could happen. For example, if the steering or engine malfunctions, it could lead to a crash or cause the boat to capsize. Some of the most common equipment failures that require attention include:

  • Poor battery connection
  • Twisted fuel line
  • Overheating engines
  • Propeller damage
  • Ignition switch failure

Types of Boat Accidents

Types of boating accidents are many, and much of it has to do with the type of boat. Accidents can involve but are not limited to any of the following situations or types of boats:

  • Airboats
  • Boat tenders
  • Cabin cruisers
  • Canoes
  • Defective boats
  • Falls onboard or overboard
  • Fishing charters
  • Go-fast boats
  • Inflatable boats
  • Jetskis
  • Kayaks
  • Paddleboards
  • Personal watercrafts
  • Runabouts (e.g., bowriders, center consoles, cuddy cabins, and walkarounds)
  • Sailboats
  • Wakeboarding
  • Waterskiing
  • Waverunners 

It is also worth noting here accidents involving propellers. Propeller injuries occur when a person comes into contact with a motorized boat propeller that is in motion. Hundreds of people are injured and dozens die annually from this type of accident. Injuries can be life-altering, especially when the moving propeller strikes a person's head or torso, causing severe damage. Jet thrust accidents are also accidents involving the propeller where injuries are caused by the force of a propeller thrusting water and objects at people (typically people in their own personal watercraft) behind it.

Common Types of Injuries from Florida Boating Accidents

The types of injuries a person sustains depend on the activity, type of boat, and other factors. Common types of injuries include:

  • Drowning. Drowning is the most significant type of injury from boating accidents and is a leading cause of death.
  • Lacerations. Propeller blades, if too close to a person on the boat or swimmers, can cause catastrophic lacerations that lead to disfiguration or require amputation.
  • Electrocution. The combination of standing water and poor maintenance increases the chances of electrocution injuries.
  • Whiplash. Speeding and sudden stops or turns on a boat can cause whiplash, and whiplash may not materialize immediately, which can complicate the injury.
  • Spinal cord injuries. When a boat bounces due to waves or wakes from other boats, the spine is compressed and can cause injuries like herniated discs.

Liability and Compensation in Florida Boating Accidents

As in all personal injury cases, if your injury is caused by another person or entity's negligence or intentional act, you may be entitled to compensation. Liability in most personal injury cases requires that you show fault, and you do so by satisfying four elements:

  1. The other party owed you a duty of care.
  2. The other party breached that duty of care.
  3. The breach caused your injury.
  4. The injury resulted in monetary damages. 

In other cases, where the injury is caused by a defective product, a personal injury claim may be based on the theory of product liability, which often involves strict liability. In these cases, fault does not necessarily need to be proven. The manufacturer, designer, retailer, and others along the supply chain can be held liable in three situations where there exist:

  1. A manufacturing defect
  2. A defective design
  3. Failure to provide adequate warnings or instructions.  

If you prove your case, you can be compensated for:

  1. Economic damages, which are things like medical expenses and lost wages
  2. Non-economic damages, which is compensation for things like pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of consortium

In rare cases, you could demand punitive damages, but that is very specific to the state where you file your personal injury lawsuit. Thus, knowing what the law states in your jurisdiction will be critical to proving your claim and recovering fair and just compensation.

Contact a Boating Accident Injury Attorney in Tampa Today

If you have been injured in a boating accident in Tampa, you may be entitled to compensation. Each case is different and the results will be based on the evidence and how well you argue your claim. At Rodriguez & Williamson, PLLC, our personal injury lawyer knows the law, knows what to look for, and knows how to argue these cases to help make sure you recover compensation that is fair and just. Contact us today by filling out the online form or calling us at 813-320-7500 to schedule a Free.

Boating is a popular form of recreation that can be enjoyed on various water bodies, including the ocean, rivers, and lakes. The tone of the conversation, however, shifts abruptly whenever there is a boating accident in Florida. Accidents on boats can result in significant harm, including bodily injury and property damage. It is essential to your recovery that you receive the compensation and legal representation that you are entitled to.


Our injury attorney in Tampa at Rodriguez & Williamson, PLLC, is aware of boating accidents' profound impact on people's lives. We encourage those who have been wronged to keep fighting for their rights until they are awarded appropriate and fair compensation. Get in touch with us at 813-320-7500 to set up a free consultation and find out more about the potential remedies open to you in this particular instance.


Accidents on the Water in Florida and Their Root Causes


Random events seldom cause accidents on boats; something or someone contributes to the incident, resulting in serious injuries or even fatalities. The following is a rundown of the various boating mishaps that frequently occur in Florida.

Alcohol Use

When people want to spend time on the water and enjoy the scenery, they often head out on their boats with their families, friends, or just by themselves. Alcohol is frequently involved as a component of that enjoyable experience. Even if the amount of alcohol consumed does not exceed the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC), the combination of sun exposure and alcohol consumption can still cause impairment. A boat operator who is impaired poses a risk to others and can cause accidents that are both severe and fatal. In addition, certain circumstances may result in the filing of criminal charges; for example, intoxicated driving laws in most states apply to all motor vehicles, including boats equipped with engines.

Distractions

The person operating the boat may become distracted if their loved ones and friends are having a good time while out on the water. However, distractions do not only come from friends and family members. The operator of a vessel can divert their attention to the radio, their electronics, or even something as simple as watching a beautiful sunset or jet skiers. No matter what it is, it is not difficult for an operator to divert their attention away from the boat and the environment to focus on something else. Because of this, even brief periods of distraction can put people in danger of accidents.

Lack of driving experience

The minimum amount of experience, if any, that is required for someone to legally operate a boat varies from one state to the next. Frequently, the requirements shift depending on the kind of boat that is being used. The operation of a boat may appear to be relatively simple, similar to driving a car; however, boat safety concerns may differ from those associated with the operation of a vehicle. A person can help ensure the safe operation of a vessel by first familiarizing themselves with the relevant rules and regulations. Take into account that you are not the only one on the water; there are other boaters, swimmers, people on jet skis, and even wildlife to contend with. It is possible to make errors that result in accidents if one does not receive the appropriate education on the operations and safety of boats.

Fatigue

Fatigue is a significant obstacle to effective and risk-free boat operation, just as it is when operating any other vehicle, including a boat. It is possible to become tired simply by being exposed to sunlight; however, if you have been exposed to sunlight all day and have been swimming or sunbathing, all of these activities may have contributed to your fatigue. Operating a vehicle, boat, piece of machinery, or any other type of vehicle while fatigued is never a good idea.

Careless Behaviors/Actions

Accidents can be caused by careless behavior by boat operators or passengers. When someone does something that they know, or should know, poses serious risks, they act recklessly. The following are some examples of recklessness:

  • The boat was crammed with an excessive number of passengers.
  • Boating in a swimming area
  • employing a rate of speed that is excessive given the current conditions (e.g., visibility restricted)
  • Using an excessively high rate of speed in congested areas
  • Operating a motor vehicle while drowsy or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Speeding

The open water offers a lot of allure and fun, particularly if you have a boat capable of traveling at high speeds. However, speeding is risky behavior, regardless of whether there are any other boats within a mile's radius or not. Accidents at higher speeds tend to be more severe and tragic than accidents at lower speeds. This is true both in and outside of the realm of driving. The possibility of a more severe impact or collision should be considered a significant concern.

Defective Equipment

Boats are an example of a product. When a product or a component of a product is faulty, it can increase the risk of accidents. Visit the database that the United States government maintains on boat recalls to research boat safety issues or report one. Some examples of boats with defects or boat parts that are not up to par include, but are not limited to, the following examples:

  • Chargers for batteries
  • Diving gear
  • Electrical infrastructures
  • Components of the engine
  • Fishing vessel hardware and rigging
  • Fuel pump cracks
  • Fuel system line leaks
  • Navigational equipment (radars, rudders, etc.)
  • Pilot ladders
  • Railings
  • Lifting or loading equipment for ships
  • Belt conveyer aboard ship
  • Throttles
  • Steering arms
  • Which is it? wenches or winches

Equipment Failure

Boats are required to undergo routine maintenance by their owners. Failure to keep up with the maintenance of your boat can result in malfunctioning equipment, which increases the risk of an accident. The nature of the malfunction will determine the severity of the accident. For instance, if the boat's steering or engine suddenly stops working, it might result in a collision or even cause the vessel to capsize. The following are examples of some of the most common types of equipment failures that require attention:

  • Poor connection to the battery
  • Fuel line with a twist
  • Overheating engines
  • Propeller damage
  • Failure of the ignition switch

Various Forms of Marine Mishaps

There are many boating accidents, and the type of boat often plays a significant role in how they unfold. Any of the following circumstances or vessels could be involved in an accident, but this list is not exhaustive.

  • Airboats
  • Boat tenders
  • Cabin cruisers
  • Canoes
  • Vessels with defects
  • The object either falls onboard or overboard.
  • Charter boats for fishing
  • boats built for speed
  • Boats that can be inflated
  • Jetskis
  • Kayaks
  • Paddleboards
  • Individually piloted watercraft
  • Runabouts (e.g., bowriders, center consoles, cuddy cabins, and walkarounds) (e.g., bowriders, center consoles, cuddy cabins, and walkarounds)
  • Sailboats
  • Wakeboarding
  • Waterskiing
  • Waverunners

It is also important to mention any accidents that involved propellers at this point. Accidents leading to injuries caused by propellers happen when a person is in the path of a moving propeller on a motorized boat. Each year, this accident is responsible for the deaths of dozens of people and the injuries of hundreds. When a moving propeller strikes a person, especially in the head or the torso, it can cause severe damage that can drastically alter a person's quality of life. Accidents that involve the propeller and jet thrust are two of the same types of accidents. In jet thrust accidents, injuries are caused by the force of a propeller thrusting water and objects at people (typically people in their own personal watercraft) who are behind it.

Injury Categories That Are Typically Seen in Florida Accidents Involving Boats

The type of boating activity, as well as other factors, can significantly impact the injuries a person sustains. The following are examples of common types of injuries:

  • Drowning: The most severe injury resulting from a boat accident is drowning, the most common cause of fatalities.
  • Lacerations: If the propeller's blades come too close to a person on the boat or a swimmer, they can cause catastrophic lacerations that ultimately result in disfigurement or necessitate amputation.
  • Electrocution: The presence of water that has been allowed to stand and inadequate maintenance raises the risk of electrocution injuries.
  • Whiplash: On a boat, whiplash can be caused by rapid accelerations and sudden stops or turns. Additionally, whiplash symptoms may not appear immediately, further complicate the injury.

Injuries to the spinal cord: When a boat is subjected to the jolting motion of waves or the wakes created by other boats, the spine is compressed, which can lead to injuries such as herniated discs.

Accidents on the Water in Florida: Responsibility and Compensation for Victims

Your injury might entitle you to compensation, just as it does in every other type of case involving personal injury if it was caused by the negligence or intentional act of another person or entity. You are required to demonstrate fault in the vast majority of cases involving personal injuries, and you can do so by meeting the following four criteria:

  1. The other party was responsible for providing you with a duty of care.
  2. The other party had disregarded that duty of care.
  3. The breach brought on your injury.
  4. The injury led to monetary damages being incurred by the victim.

In other instances, where a faulty product brings on an injury, a personal injury claim may be founded on the product liability theory, which frequently centers on strict liability. In situations like these, proving that someone was at fault is not always necessary. When any of the following three conditions are met, it may be possible to hold the manufacturer, the designer, the retailer, and others along the supply chain liable:

  1. A manufacturing defect
  2. A defective design
  3. The failure to provide adequate instructions or warnings to the victim.

If you are successful in arguing your case, you may be entitled to compensation for the following items:

  1. Damages to your finances, such as those caused by things like missed wages and medical bills
  2. Non-economic damages, also known as compensation for mental anguish, physical pain, or loss of consortium, are distinct from monetary damages.

You may have the right to seek punitive damages in extremely unusual circumstances. These types of damages depend highly on the state where you file your injury lawsuit. Therefore, if you want to be successful in proving your claim and recovering compensation that is both fair and just, it is essential that you are familiar with the laws that apply in your jurisdiction.

Get in Touch With a Boating Accident Injury Lawyer in Tampa Right This Minute

If you have been hurt in a boating accident in Tampa, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. Every circumstance is unique, and the outcome of your case will depend on the evidence presented and how persuasively you argue your position. Our injury attorney at Rodriguez & Williamson, PLLC, is familiar with the law, what evidence to look for, and how to discuss these types of cases to assist you in obtaining the compensation that is both fair and just. To schedule a free consultation, please contact us as soon as possible by calling us at 813-320-7500 or submitting the contact form found on our website.

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