Many Florida residents look forward to spending time on a boat with family and friends. With ample opportunities to visit the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and all of the other waterways in Florida, it is a relaxing way to get away and enjoy nature. In fact, there are more than one million registered boating vessels in Florida. Normally you will have a wonderful time and everyone will return home safe and healthy. Unfortunately some boat trips end with an injury. The following statistics are for fatal accidents according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:
- 38% of the fatal accidents were falls overboard
- 56% of the fatal accidents were in vessels less than 17 feet in length
- The leading cause of death in fatal boating accidents was drowning (55%)
- The deadliest month in 2007 was March with 12 fatalities
- 48% of the fatal accidents occurred between the hours of 12 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- 22% of the boating fatalities were caused by alcohol or drug use
- 90% of the victims of fatal boating accidents were males
- 70% of the Operators involved in reportable boating accidents had no formal boater education
Florida leads the nation in boating accidents and in 2007 alone, there were nearly seven hundred reportable boating accidents. These actions are often collisions with other boats or with personal watercraft. These collisions can result in extreme property damage, even when injuries don’t occur. It is also possible that recreational boats could hit sand bars or channel markers, which could cause serious injury to passengers.
In some situations, the liable party has been reckless or careless in their operation of the boating vessel. Sometimes boaters have been drinking alcohol or using drugs and are operating the boat while under the influence. The owner of the boat is generally responsible for any damages or injuries that take place on the boat. However, there are occasions where it can be determined that the boat manufacturer may be liable for causing an accident.
In order to protect yourself, a boating accident should be handled in the same manner as other accidents – you should exchange contact information with all involved parties and collect insurance information from the owner of the boat. You should also contact the authorities right away and refrain from discussing accident details with anyone other than law officials.
Boating accidents can be complicated. Attorney Joe McIntyre will be able to review all relevant details and determine how the accident will be judged under maritime law. Call or e-mail us for a free consultation.