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Miami Boating Accident Lawyers

Holding Negligent Operators Accountable - Call Mase Seitz Briggs at (844) 627-3529

The nature of maritime law is unique. To get the full award that you deserve, you need an attorney that understands the intricate nuances of maritime law. Mase Seitz Briggs has over a quarter century of experience representing clients in maritime cases across a wide spectrum of claims. Our stalwart commitment to our clients means that you can trust us to fight for you.

If you were injured in a recreational boating accident caused by another person or company’s negligence, call Mase Seitz Briggs today to discuss your case. We can explain your options in a free consultation and pursue compensation on your behalf.

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Boating Accident Cases – What You Need to Know

The boating accident attorneys at Mase Seitz Briggs understand maritime law and have decades of experience in the field. From collisions and equipment failures to diving and dock accidents, we understand the intricacies of maritime and admiralty law—and how it can apply to your situation.

Pursuing a boating accident claim is not the same as an auto accident claim. Local, state, federal, and international maritime regulations add complexity to these claims, and can impact your rights if you are injured.

In addition, maritime law often governs potential claims occurring on Florida’s waterways. Many maritime claims must be filed in federal court under admiralty jurisdiction and have special statutes of limitation. Because of this, you need an attorney with the experience and understanding of maritime law to pursue your claim.

Common Causes of Recreational Boating Accidents In Florida

Vessels are considered “dangerous instrumentalities” under Florida law, meaning operators must “exercise the highest degree of care to prevent injuries or death.” Reckless or careless operation can lead to liability for any resulting injuries. Whether an operator is boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs or is merely inexperienced, they may be held legally accountable.

Operator Inexperience

Boaters do not have the same licensing requirements as drivers, so many boat owners in Miami, South Florida, and across Florida do not know the rules on the open water. They may be unfamiliar with the watercraft they are piloting or unable to handle changing sea and weather conditions. Individually, each of these can cause a serious boating accident, and together they can result in catastrophic injury or death.

Follow this link to read the Florida Boat license requirements for minors.

Operator Inattention

Unlike public streets and highways, bodies of water do not have clearly marked traffic lanes, signals, or signs that help boaters avoid collisions and potential safety hazards. Boaters can easily be lulled into a false sense of security that lowers their awareness to their surroundings. And unlike cars, boats also do not have brakes to allow them to stop quickly. It is the responsibility of watercraft owners, operators, and passengers to be well-informed and to exercise good judgment to keep themselves safe on the water.

Reckless Operation

Many boat owners think there is little to no risk on the open water, so they drive at an unsafe speed or take unnecessary risks. This frequently happens with jet skis, wave-runners, and other personal watercraft. Unfortunately, passengers, swimmers and other boaters can be easily injured by reckless and unsafe watercraft operation.

Negligent Entrustment

Negligent entrustment is when the boat’s owner allows someone else to operate the watercraft despite knowing or having information suggesting that the permitted individual is not competent to safely operate the vessel. If injuries result from the permitted individual’s use of the watercraft, then the victim has a direct legal claim against the boat owner.

To prove negligent entrustment, the victim and their representation must prove any of the following:

  • The boat operator was incompetent to operate the boat
  • The boat owner permitted the boat operator to use the boat
  • The boat owner knew or should have known that the boat operator was incompetent
  • The boat operator’s incompetence was the legal cause of the victim’s injuries

Vicarious Liability

Vicarious liability attributes liability to a boat owner for the negligence of a person operating the boat on the owner’s behalf. This also arises in situations where the boat owner’s employee operated the vessel at the time of the incident. Our attorneys have experience determining who is at fault and how to ensure that the person responsible is brought to justice.

Weather and Water Conditions

South Florida’s weather and water conditions can change in an instant. Unpredictable weather or water conditions make safe watercraft operation difficult, and an even an experienced boat operator may not know how to handle the conditions properly. As a result, boating and watercraft accidents frequently occur.

Recreational Boating Accident Reporting Requirements

Section 327.30 of the Florida Statutes requires the owner or operator of a recreational vessel involved in a collision, accident, or other casualty to notify the appropriate law enforcement agency if:

  • The vessel capsizes
  • There is a collision with another boat or object
  • The boat sinks
  • There is a personal injury requiring medical treatment beyond first aid
  • A person dies
  • A person disappears under circumstances that indicate death or injury
  • Damage to any vessel or other property exceeds an aggregate amount of $2,000
  • Failure to report an accident or leaving the scene of an accident can result in criminal charges.

You should never have to pay out-of-pocket for someone else’s negligence. If you are seriously injured, you need to consult with a Miami recreational boating accident lawyer immediately to ensure that your case is handled correctly.

If you are injured in a recreational boating accident in Miami, you deserve compensation. Our attorneys will conduct an independent investigation into your accident to ensure that you get the maximum recovery allowed under Florida law. It is vital to act quickly to protect your rights.

Causes of Boating Collisions

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), boating collisions were the leading type of boating accident, accounting for 53% of the total reportable boating accidents in 2021.
Common causes of boating collisions include:

  • No proper lookout
  • Operator inattention
  • Operator inexperience
  • Excessive speed
  • Machinery failure
  • Reckless operation of the vessel
  • Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Many boating collisions can be prevented by following safety regulations, including the Navigation Rules listed by the United States Coast Guard for recreational boaters. As the FWC notes, most fatal boating accidents are caused by operators who have had no formal boater education. 

Navigational Violations

Before leaving dry land, boat owners must know when to give way to each other. Depending on the situation and type of vessel, boats may either be the give-way vessel or the stand-on vessel. Give-way vessels must steer around while the stand-on vessel has the right of way. When meeting head-on, both boats are generally give-way vessels and should steer to the right. Generally, sailboats, rowboats, and canoes are less maneuverable and are considered stand-on vessels.

There are additional rules for overtaking, crossing, and meeting at angles that boaters should familiarize themselves with before hitting the water. Not knowing these rules or failing to follow them could result in a boating accident that causes serious injuries.

Just like automobiles, boaters have to follow the “Rules of the Road” to avoid collisions. Failure to follow these rules can result in catastrophic injuries. Read these rules for boating navigation by the U.S. Coast Guard and print them to keep on your boat. 

Injuries Caused by Boating Accidents

Boating accidents can be life-altering. As a result, you could face significant medical expenses and be unable to work following a boating accident. If you are injured in Florida, or most other states, your remedy is a civil lawsuit for damages. 

Injuries that may result in compensation include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Wrongful death
  • Amputations
  • Broken bones
  • Lacerations
  • Internal injuries

If you have suffered serious injuries, contact our Miami boat accident lawyers today to discuss your legal options. We can assist you in filing a lawsuit and recovering damages. 

Presumption of Fault in Boating Collision Accidents

It can be difficult to prove that another boat operator was negligent in a collision. To prove negligence, you must show that the other boat operator violated the standard of care—that he or she failed to act in a reasonably prudent manner as a reasonable person would in a similar situation. 

When a collision occurs, maritime law has a number of presumptions about who is at fault:

  • When two ships collide, there is a presumption called the “Pennsylvania Rule.” Under the Pennsylvania Rule, when a boat operator is in violation of a navigation regulation at the time of a collision, he is presumed at fault. 
  • Similarly, under the “Oregon Rule,” a boat operator is presumed at fault if his vessel is moving and strikes a stationary vessel. 
  • Under the “Louisiana Rule,” a boat operator is presumed at fault if his moving vessel strikes a stationary object.

These presumptions can be helpful for people injured as a result of boating collisions, and we have applied them to obtain justice for boat accident victims. 

Hire a Miami Boating Accident Lawyer

If you are injured in a boat collision, you deserve an attorney who will not hesitate to take defendants and their insurance companies to trial. At Mase Seitz Briggs, we are trial attorneys that know what it takes to win cases. Our lawyers have represented thousands of victims, recovering tens of millions in settlements and verdicts.

We have specialized in maritime and admiralty law for more than three decades, helping families in South Florida and beyond to recover from severe boating accidents. We can navigate these confusing seas for you and help you get compensation after an accident. 

We fight for you and your family to help get the justice you deserve. Contact our office at (844) 627-3529 or fill out our online contact form for a free, confidential case evaluation. 

Florida Boating Accident Statistics

It’s no secret: Floridians love the water and boating. Our beautiful state has access to the Atlantic Ocean, the Bahamas, Gulf of Mexico, and numerous rivers and lakes. Countless motorboats, sailboats, jet skis, personal watercraft, kayaks, and yachts cruise the Miami, South Florida, and coastal Florida waters every day—many of which are operated and occupied by tourists and other visitors to our state, who often have little or no prior boating experience. This lack of familiarity with boating and the risks involved, leisure activities that include drinking alcohol, as well as unfamiliar inland and offshore waters can make for a dangerous and sometimes deadly combination.

Florida leads the nation in registered vessels with slightly under one million, a large number of which reside in Miami and South Florida.

  • According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), there were over 750 reportable accidents in 2021.
  • Of those accidents, 324 resulted in injuries to a passenger or operator, and 59 were fatal. Open motorboats are the most common type of vessel involved in boating accidents.
  • Miami-Dade County issues the largest number of Boating Safety Education Identification Cards in Florida, but 83% of fatal boating accidents involve an uneducated operator.
  • Reportable boating accidents most often occur between 2:00pm and 3:59pm and involve a collision with another vessel, according to the most recent data.
  • No proper lookout and operator inattention are the primary causes of reportable boating accidents, as noted by the FWC, followed by operator inexperience.
  • In 2021, alcohol or drug use contributed to 23% of boating fatalities.

As you can see, a simple day on the water in Florida can be more dangerous than you think. If you or a loved one is injured in a boating accident, our experienced attorneys can help you get justice.

Boating Accidents and Claims

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(305) 377-3770
Mase Seitz Briggs
2601 South Bayshore Drive
Suite 800
Miami, FL 33133

Phone: 305-487-8863
Toll Free: 1-844-904-1749
Fax: 305-377-0080
1200 N Federal Hwy
Suite 200
Boca Raton, FL 33432

Phone: 561-210-8516
Fax: 561-210-8301
*Available by Appointment*
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