Watercraft and Boating Accidents

Florida is unique to other states because it is surrounded by water. There are plenty of opportunities to not only have fun on the water but also be involved in a watercraft or boating accident.

The latest report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission states that in 2017, there were 723 boating accidents, each totaling over $2,000 worth of damages, and 120 personal watercraft accidents, with a total of over $294,000 in property damage. What these numbers do not reflect is the toll each of these accidents takes on the passengers who experience them.

How to Prevent Boating or Watercraft Accidents

You may be surprised just how often water-related accidents occur, and they may happen when you least expect it. They can lead to significant property damage and injuries. Below are a few tips to help you avoid these accidents.

Always be aware of your surroundings.

When you are on open water, it can very easily seem like you are the only person on the water. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the top two types of accidents on the water are:

  1. Collision with another vessel
  2. Collision with a fixed object

These accidents happen most often when the vehicle is cruising versus performing any dangerous stunts or questionable maneuvers. That means that simply not paying attention is one of the most common causes of boating accidents. Be aware of your surroundings at all times to avoid collisions of any type.

Practice boating safety.

Boating and watercraft safety could include something as simple as wearing a life jacket, but it also includes things like:

  • Sitting down when accelerating or when the water is rough
  • Not drinking and driving at any time
  • Checking the weather before you go out to the water
  • Ensuring all drivers of the boat or watercraft has the appropriate license before allowing them to drive
  • Keeping distractions to a minimum, such as electronics, passengers, and even enjoying the wonderful view

You should also stay hydrated and being conscious of sun exposure when possible. Keep in mind that sun exposure could make the driver drowsy behind the wheel.

What Happens When a Boating Accident Occurs?

You should always get medical attention first, before thinking about any legal implications of the accident. Then, once you have seen a doctor, if necessary, one of the first questions that boat accident victims need to ask themselves after an accident is: Who is at fault? You may find that it is necessary to file a claim against another boat-owner or a company.

Common claims include:

  • Boating while under the influence. It is against Florida law to operate any vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If an accident occurs and a driver is suspected of operating under the influence, not only will this person lose their boating license, they could lose their driving license as well.
  • Negligence. How negligence is defined in boating and watercraft operation is driving at an unsafe or high speed, colliding with other vessels or fixed objects, hitting wakes or waves at high speed, or operating during poor weather conditions. If any of these things occur, and it causes an accident, then the other boating driver was likely at fault.
  • Reckless operation. When a driver is suspected of reckless operation, then they are exhibiting behaviors that have a willful disregard for the safety of other people or property.
  • Work-related accidents. Accidents can occur while working at their jobs aboard a vessel, these accidents may be available for recovery or compensation depending on the events of the accident.

Navigating a Boating Claim with the Help of a Lawyer

It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer to determine if you have a claim after an accident. At VG Law Group, LLP, we can help you gather the necessary information to make an informed decision about starting a claim or a lawsuit.

It can be difficult to determine who is at fault in watercraft and boating accidents. You also may not know what to do next or how to start a claim. VG Law Group, LLP has the experience to help you toward the road to recovery. We pride ourselves in providing personalized service and advice based on your needs.

Set up a consultation time with our team to find the lawyer that is the best fit for you and your needs. Call 1-833-4365 or contact us online.

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