Boating is one of the top hobbies for Florida residents and visitors. However, where there are a lot of boats out on the water, there is also the risk of boating accidents. In some of the worst-case scenarios, boat passengers and operators lose their lives. In the most common boat accidents, people suffer moderate to severe injuries. If you were a victim of a boat accident, you have the right to receive fair compensation for your damages.

An experienced Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer at VG Law Group can help you understand the complex personal injury laws governing boating accidents and prepare your accident claims.

What Makes Boating Accidents Different from Other Personal Injury Cases?

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Depending on the body of water where the boat crash took place, the case may be governed by state tort laws or by the federal maritime law. According to federal law, navigable waterways fall within federal jurisdiction, being defined as "those waters that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide and/or are presently used, or were used in the past, or may be susceptible for used to transport interstate or foreign commerce". Under this definition, open sea is a navigable waterway, for instance.

In Florida, the varied landscape includes a wide range of bodies of water, such as:

  • the ocean and the gulf
  • bays and sounds
  • canals
  • rivers
  • lakes and ponds
  • harbors

Therefore, you should make sure that you hire an experienced boating accident attorney who has experience in federal admiralty law, not only in Florida personal injury law. If you do not file your case in the proper court, your lawsuit will be rejected, and you will not receive compensation for bodily injury and property damages.

Also, the laws in Florida do not require boat operators to carry liability insurance. Therefore, you may not be covered by an insurance company for the medical bills and other costs and lost wages you incur as a result of a bating accident.

Types of Watercrafts Covered by Boating Accident Laws

When you say boat, it is like saying tree. It is not specific, and it does not help your case. When you discuss with a personal injury lawyer, you should give as many details as possible about the accident for which you seek fair settlement.

In our experience, most boating accidents involved:

fort lauderdale boating accident lawyer
  • Personal water crafts: jet skis, wave runners
  • yachts
  • sailboats
  • cabin cruisers
  • kayaks, canoes and paddleboards
  • pontoons
  • inflatable boats
  • air boats.

The most serious accidents involve recreational tourist boats, where a lot of passengers are aboard. However, even a common crash between two personal watercrafts can cause significant bodily injuries and you have the right to seek financial compensation from the responsible party.

The Most Important Florida Boating Laws

In order to understand your rights in personal injury litigation, you need to know how to establish the other party's negligence or even gross negligence leading to your accident. In this situation, just like in any other type of accidents including car accidents, you need to determine that:

  • The other party had a duty of care towards you
  • the accident was caused by the breach of this duty of care
  • you suffered injuries and property damage as a direct consequence of the accident.

Here are some of the most important legal stipulations related to boating accidents:

Reporting an Accident

Boating accidents must be reported if one or several conditions are met:

  • one or more persons die in the accident
  • one or more persons disappear in the water
  • injuries require medical attention beyond first aid
  • property damage exceeds $2,000
  • the watercraft is destroyed.

The accident can be reported to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the county sheriff, or the police chief of the municipality. Failure to report such an accident and/or leaving the accident scene without giving all possible aid to accident injury victims are unlawful.

Operating a Boat under Influence

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Just like in the case of car accidents, a person is not allowed by law to operate a boat if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. An operator is considered impaired if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08. If the operator is under 21 years old, a BAC of .02 is considered illegal.

Age Limit for Operating a Boat

Fort Lauderdale boating accident lawyers state in order to operate a personal watercraft, a person must be at least 14 years old. When it comes to renting a personal watercraft, the age limit is 18 years old. In order to operate any vessel with an engine power exceeding 10 hp, the person must:

  • be born at least on or after January 1, 1988
  • complete a NASBLA approved boating education course
  • have in their possession a boating education ID card
  • have in their possession a photo identification card.

The Most Common Types of Boating Accident Causes

Given the low age limit and lack of strict regulations on insurance, boating accidents happen with great frequency. According to US Coast Guard statistics for 2019, there were. Contact VG Law.

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