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While we rarely discuss boating accidents as we do auto accidents, boat accident statistics give us reasons for concern. A boating accident report recorded about 2,559 injured people and 613 fatalities from US boating accidents in 2019. Of these statistics, Florida seems to be the leading state for boat accidents in the country. This may be related to the fact that the state has the highest number of registered vessels in the nation.

Many things can cause marine accidents — adverse weather conditions, inadequate safety equipment, collisions with waves, wakes, etc. Regardless, if someone's negligence was the cause of your boat accident, you deserve adequate compensation for losses and bodily injuries. Your boating accident lawyers will offer you legal representation in your boating accident claims.

However, getting compensation hinges a great deal on suing the right person. In this article, we'd let you in on determining the real persons to sue in your claim for compensation.

Types of Boat Collisions in Florida

Who Can I Sue for Boating Accident Injuries?

The following are the most common types of boating accidents in Florida: 

  • Recreational Boating Accidents: One of the most common Florida boating accidents happens when two marine vehicles collide. Usually, one of such vehicles is a recreational vehicle. It's pretty easy to get distracted while relaxing on recreational boats.
  • Grounding: Grounding happens when a boat collides with certain underwater features. These underwater features could be rocks, reefs, pilings, etc. Striking such objects can also cause damage to the boat.
  • Fixed Object Collisions: Inexperienced or negligent drivers can easily hit a fixed object in water as they ride.
  • Flooding and Swamping Accidents: Flooding and swamping accidents are pretty common and account for a significant number of boating fatalities. Hazardous conditions like cold water and bad weather can increase fatality rates in flooding accidents. Passengers who have their life vests on during a flooding accident have a lesser risk of dying.

What Common Types of Injuries Can Boat Accident Victims Get?

Apart from the emotional distress that comes with having an accident, boating accident victims can develop the following injuries: 

  • Internal injuries 
  • Traumatic brain injuries 
  • Spinal cord injuries 
  • Broken bones 
  • Neck injuries
  • Dislocations 
  • Laceration 
  • Hypothermia 
  • Teeth injuries 
  • Burns 
  • Bruises 
  • Sprains and strains 
  • Amputation 
  • Back injuries 

These injuries range from mild to severe. Sometimes, they can be life-threatening and cause permanent disfigurement for the victim. Usually, in a boating accident lawsuit, the courts will consider the severity of the injuries in awarding damages.

Who's Liable for My Boat Crash Injuries?

Like all personal injury and wrongful death claims, liability to pay compensation lies on the negligent party. The responsible parties are the persons who held a duty of care to other boat passengers but breached them. If they are found to be grossly negligent, they may be liable for punitive damages too. 

Determining the at-fault party in a boat traffic accident may be challenging. As such, you may need the services of accident reconstruction specialists at the accident location. Most times, the responsible parties are: 

  • The Boat Operators 

Boating safety laws require people who run boat operations to do so with utmost care. As such, they must provide appropriate life jackets for each of their passengers. Boat operators who fail to provide life jackets in pleasure boating accidents will be liable for compensation.

A woman is in a life raft after a boat accident in Florida

Boat operators may also be responsible for some passengers' reckless behaviors. That's because they have an obligation to inform their passengers about harmful behaviors on the boat. If boat operators were aware of their passengers' negligent behaviors but failed to warn them, they may face some penalties.

  • Boat Owners 

Sometimes, boat owners could be responsible for a boating accident even if they weren't driving it. That usually happens when they loan their boats to unqualified boat operators who, in turn, cause boating accidents. In Florida, every boat operator must be accredited by the NASBLA (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators).

Again, boat operators below 21 years old or younger must carry their photo IDs while operating their water vessels. Anyone who violates these rules is liable to steep penalties. Boat owners who allow unlicensed boat operators to run their boats are equally liable to punishments.

  • Passengers 

Shockingly, passengers can be liable for a boating accident under some circumstances. If the accident were due to their reckless actions, they would be liable for the injuries caused. They will also be responsible for compensation if they prevent the boat operators from performing their legal duties.

  • The Manufacturers 

Boat manufacturers must ensure that they produce boats that are safe for riding. As such, they must use standard materials and proper procedures in manufacturing their ships. If the cause of a boat accident can be traced to a manufacturing defect, they may become liable for compensation.

  • The Rental Company 

Not everyone can afford a boat. So, rental companies lease their boats to adventurers who want a boat cruise. These rental companies have to ensure the proper maintenance of their rented boats. For example, they must hire qualified boat mechanics to repair any faulty parts of their boats.

Unfortunately, many jet ski accidents are a result of the rental company's negligence. If this is the case in your boating accident, you can sue the rental company for damages.

Note that negligence alone isn't enough in a personal injury claim. The injured party must also prove that it was the plaintiff's vague actions and nothing else that caused the accident. Also, Florida uses a comparative negligence system of determining fault. That means that all the parties who were negligent would pay damages according to their degree of fault.

How To Get Financial Compensation After a Boat Accident 

A boat accident claim is similar to an automobile accident claim in many ways. However, a significant difference between both types of accidents is in the mandatory insurance. While Florida laws compel motor vehicle drivers to have an automobile insurance policy, boaters don't require boat insurance. Therefore, getting compensation from the responsible party's insurance company may prove difficult.

Your boat accident attorney will guide you on the best ways to recover damages for your losses. However, you may take these steps to recover compensation for property damage and bodily injuries in a boating accident:

  • Gather Evidence 

The first process to getting fair compensation for your boat accident injuries is to gather as much evidence as possible. Without ample evidence, it'd be challenging to prove that the negligent party was at fault. Your boating accident lawyer can help you with gathering the necessary information you need for your claim.

  • Settle Out of Court

After gathering enough evidence, the next step is to approach the responsible party's insurance company for compensation. Since boaters aren't mandated to have boat insurance policies, the negligent party may not have one. However, you can use the boat owner's homeowners' insurance to claim compensation for your injuries. If the insurance company denies or frustrates your claim, you can move ahead to the next step.

  • File Boating Accident Lawsuits 

If you can't settle out of court for any reason, you can get compensation via a boating accident lawsuit. Your boat accident lawyers will offer you legal representation in court.

A boat sit on a rocky surface after an accident in Florida

Speak With an Experienced Accident Attorney About Your Case

Were you injured in a recreational boating accident in Florida? Are you a boating accident victim in any type of boat accident? Then you need to hold the at-fault party responsible and get fair compensation for your boating accident injuries. Our experienced boating accident attorneys will help you do just that.

At VG Law, our award-winning boating accident lawyers have extensive legal experience in maritime law practice. We've successfully pursued personal injury claims for even clients in hopeless boating accident situations. Regardless of the peculiarities of your case, we will explore all avenues available to get you adequate compensation for injuries. Give us a call now.

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