The State of Florida, with its many canals, waterways, and close proximity to the ocean, is a hotbed for boating accidents. The large number of lakes and other natural waterways offer many opportunities for boating activities and accidents.
Florida, like most other states, has boating rules and regulations in place to promote safety for everyone on the water. Unfortunately, however, not everyone obeys these rules and regulations, and when that happens, catastrophic accidents and injuries can result.
If you have been injured in a boating accident in the State of Florida, you may be entitled to monetary compensation under the law. An experienced New Port Richey boating accident attorney can meet with you to discuss the facts and circumstances of your individual case. An attorney may also be able to negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, represent you during settlement negotiations, and, if necessary, litigate your case in the Florida court system.
Defective Products and Boating Equipment
Unfortunately, boating accidents often occur when those on board least expect them. When boating accidents occur in Florida, defective products and equipment are sometimes to blame.
When boat parts or equipment (such as motors, steering mechanisms, rudders etc.) are defective or malfunction, leading to boating accidents and injuries, the manufacturers and distributors can be held liable for the resulting injuries and damages under a products liability theory of recovery. More specifically, boat part manufacturers and distributors can be held liable for manufacturing defects, design defects, and/or warning defects.
Under Florida law, when a boat part or piece of equipment is defectively manufactured or designed – or if a warning is inadequate or absent – the manufacturer or distributor can be deemed strictly liable when the defect proximately results in certain injuries and damages to those on board a watercraft. Those damages can include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional distress, and permanency, to name a few.
Just as operating a car or truck while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can have devastating consequences, so can operating a boat under those same circumstances. Boating under the influence – or BUI – is another leading cause of boating accidents in Florida, as well as nationwide.
Under Florida law, a boat operator can be criminally charged and/or convicted of boating under the influence if he or she operates a watercraft in the state with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. A boat operator could also be charged with boating under the influence if a law enforcement officer suspects that his or her faculties are impaired, as a direct result of alcohol intoxication or drug impairment.
Besides being subject to criminal penalties, including fines and jail time, boat operators convicted of boating under the influence may also be held civilly liable for the boating accidents that they cause – as well as for all of the resulting injuries and damages to those on board the watercraft.
Careless, Reckless, and Negligent Boat Operation
Boat operators owe a duty to everyone else on the water to act as a reasonably prudent boat operator would act under the same or similar circumstances, and to obey all applicable Florida boating laws and regulations. Whenever a boat operator breaches this duty of care, and injuries and damages result, he or she can be subject to both criminal and/or civil liability. The most common examples of negligent boat operation in Florida include the following:
- Operating a boat in unauthorized areas
- Operating a boat without the proper experience or training
- Operating a boat without the proper license and/or registration
Anyone who operates a vessel with willful disregard for the safety of property or persons on board may receive a citation for reckless operation – a first-degree misdemeanor in the State of Florida. Moreover, a boat operator’s violation of the Federal Navigation Rules is also considered a violation of Florida boating law.
Common Injuries Sustained in Boating Accidents
Boating accidents can result in serious – and sometimes catastrophic – injuries or death. Some of the most common types of injuries sustained in Florida boating accidents include the following:
- Concussions and traumatic brain injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Permanent injuries
Florida Boating Regulations
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is responsible for enforcing boating regulations in the State of Florida and for educating boat operators on the safe and responsible operation of boats and other watercraft. These regulations help to ensure safe operation, and, when properly followed, can prevent boating accidents and catastrophic injuries from occurring in the first place. Some of the most important boating regulations established and enforced by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission include the following:
Anyone who is born on or after January 1, 1988, and who operates a vessel which is powered by 10 or more horsepower, must pass an approved boater safety course and must have a photographic identification and boating safety education identification card in his or her possession at all times.
Any boat operator who is involved in a boating accident where a serious personal injury is involved (or death) must provide immediate notice to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the sheriff of the Florida county where the accident occurred, or the police chief of the municipality where the accident occurred.
Contact a New Port Richey Boating Accident Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case
Boating accidents can lead to serious and catastrophic injuries, and operator negligence poses a significant hazard to the public-at-large. If you have been injured in a boating accident, our knowledgeable and experienced lawyers are ready and willing to assist you with your case. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a New Port Richey boating accident lawyer, please call the Dolman Law Group today or contact us online.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652