Southwest Florida is known for its close proximity to beaches, sunshine, and year-round warm weather. Naturally, residents and tourists have taken up boating as one of their favorite pastimes to enjoy a little fun in the sun. In fact the state of Florida is home to over 900,000 registered vessels of all types, with over 43,000 residing in Lee County. Unfortunately, as is the case with any motor vehicle, accidents will happen. In 2017 Florida had over 700 boating accidents, the most in the country by a large margin.
So what happens if you do get into a boating accident while enjoying our beautiful waterways? What are some things to keep in mind, and if you do get injured in a boating accident, what are some ways that you may be able to recover compensation for damages incurred as a result of the negligence of another?
Boating accidents follow similar protocol as automobile accidents, but there are numerous differences that need to be noted. To start, even though it is recommended by the state of Florida, boater’s insurance is not required for vessels unlike the requirement for car insurance. This makes it difficult to receive compensation for any injuries or property that you may have sustained. The state, however, does allow a few different avenues to pursue compensation for damages incurred in boating accidents.
The most common avenue is to seek a negligence claim against the at-fault party. In other words, you may be able to receive compensation for the recovery of medical bills or damage to your vessel from the person that caused the accident, even if that person was someone on your vessel. This may also be the case for accidents where vessels do not even come in contact with each other. For example, a boat that capsizes due to another’s wake.
Keep in mind that an accident that occurred in a public waterway may fall under a federal law known as the Jones Act. This separate from the state and comes with its own standards and rules for filing a claim. For examples of Jones Act cases, consider the following:
In the event of a boating accident, remember that the state of Florida requires you to report an accident to either the Division of Law Enforcement of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the police chief in your area, or the sheriff of the county where the accident happened. Make sure that you exchange any information with other boaters in the event that another vessel was involved in the accident, and seek medical attention immediately.
Jet skis are a cause of many boating accidents in Florida. These personal watercraft sometimes follow different laws of liability. This is especially the case for companies that rent jet skis for recreational enjoyment. In some cases, the owners or renters of a jet ski may not be liable if an accident was due to circumstances beyond their knowledge or control. In the event the vessel is rented, it’s often a requirement that the renter signs a waiver, potentially precluding the company from any and all liability and lawsuit.
In the event of a jet ski accident, it is important to contact an attorney immediately.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the most common injuries following a boating accident are as follows:
If you have been injured in a boating accident, Florida allows you to seek compensation for the following:
Typically, the Florida statute of limitations gives you four years from the date of the accident to file a claim in order to recover your compensation; however, if your accident does fall under federal law, this time frame may be different. It is important to consult with an attorney prior to filing a claim for a boating accident.
If you were involved in a boating accident and are considering filing a claim for negligence against another party that caused the accident we welcome the opportunity to speak with you. Contact our office today to schedule a free, confidential consultation to review your case.
For a complimentary case review with an attorney, please contact our office directly at (239) 466-1161. Additionally, you may also fill out the form below and a member of our staff will contact you once your inquiry is received.