Miami Boating Excursion Accident Lawyers
An excursion can be an exciting addition to any vacation, but many have great dangers and few regulations. If an accident occurs during a boat tour, diving or snorkeling expedition, or other excursion, the injury case can be complicated. This is especially true if the accident occurred in foreign countries or when a foreign business was involved.
When a serious personal injury or death occurs on a shore excursion, you need an experienced attorney. At Mase Mebane Seitz, we regularly handle boating excursion cases and can help you recover for your injuries. For over 30 years, we have been helping accident victims get the recovery they deserve. Call today to discuss your rights and legal options in a free consultation.
Types of Boating Excursion Accidents
When someone is injured or dies on a commercial vessel, the owner or operator may be liable for any negligence or wrongdoing. Whether the injury was a result of a crewmember’s inexperience or a captain’s poor choice, you might be entitled to compensation.
We can help if you were injured on any of the following:
- Dive boat
- Rental boat
- Dinner cruise
- Parasailing boat
- Charter fishing boat
- Ferry or water taxi
- Shark diving expedition
- Motorized Surfboards
- Sightseeing or day cruise boat
- Barge, tanker, pilot boat, or tugboat
- Any other commercial vessel
Injuries Aboard Boat Tours
Duck boats are a common, yet often overlooked, attraction in South Florida, especially in Miami Beach. Duck boats originated as amphibious military vehicles in WWII. They have since become specialty attractions in cities with waterways due to their ability to easily transition from roadways to rivers, canals, lakes, and other bodies of water.
However, the dangers posed from riding in these duck boats are often overlooked. Just like any other vehicle, passengers are prone to serious risks and accidents because of operator negligence or lack of safety training. Duck boat operators have an obligation to keep their customers and passengers safe. If a passenger is injured or dies while in their care, the owner may be liable to pay for those damages.
In 2015, five people were killed and 60 were injured when a Seattle duck boat crashed into a charter bus, as reported by WCPO Cincinnati. A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation found that the operator of the duck boat, Ride the Ducks Seattle, was at fault for failing to address safety concerns regarding “axle housings on the vehicles.” Witnesses stated that they saw a wheel lock up prior to the crash, causing the duck boat to swerve. A jury awarded victims $123 million in the case.
Shark Diving Accidents and Injuries
Shark diving expeditions have substantially increased in popularity over the past few years. The experience of diving with sharks is a once-in-a-lifetime thrill for some people. Unfortunately, a boat operator’s negligence can turn a shark adventure into a devastating interaction. Any time a person engages with wild animals, an owner or operator must take the highest degree of care to ensure everyone’s safety.
Sharks are naturally curious animals and can mistake humans for food in water that is chummed (baited). Common injuries that can occur from chumming or baiting include shark bite lacerations, broken bones, torn ligaments, and soft tissue damage.
One example of how tragic shark diving accidents can be is an incident in 2019 where a 21-year-old student of Loyola Marymount University was killed by three sharks while she was snorkeling off an uninhabited private island in the Bahamas. According to BBC News, the young woman was unable to hear her family’s warnings from shore. ABC News also reported that the girl’s father lamented the lack of medical training among the tour guide staff.
While sharks can present certain dangers, it is often operational negligence that causes serious injuries to passengers. For instance, an improperly secured cage can be the difference between life and death. Additionally, shark tours that are conducted in unsafe areas can cause harm to both people and animals. Further, all crewmembers and guests are required to undergo safety training prior to engaging with sharks. Failure to provide adequate safety training can lead to the excursion company being held liable.
If you were injured on a shark expedition, you might be entitled to compensation. Contact Mase Mebane Seitz today to discuss your legal options in a FREE consultation.
Ferryboats and Water Taxis
Ferries and water taxis are a great way for locals and tourists alike to travel Florida’s waterways. Unfortunately, many passengers sustain life-altering injuries on these boats. Passengers are frequently injured in collisions or slip-and-falls. Malfunctioning equipment may also cause injuries.
In February 2020, a 10-minute ferry ride turned deadly when a Mercedes-Benz slid off the boat, plunging into the channel. Two women were found dead in the backseat of the vehicle, according to The Washington Post. The ferry boat accident occurred off of Fisher Island, an exclusive resort community off the coast of Miami Beach. The ferry, one of four operating in the area, had only a “thin blue tarp” as a barrier at the front of the boat.
Charter Fishing Boats
Charter fishing trips are a great way to explore nature and the waters of Florida, South Florida, Miami, and the Bahamas. Unfortunately, charter boat accidents occur regularly and can be fatal or result in serious personal injury.
Charter boat owners, captains, and crew members all share the responsibility for your safety. Passengers can be seriously injured because of a poorly trained captain or crew. This includes intoxicated or under-the-influence crew members. Passengers can also suffer injuries due to poorly maintained or unsecured equipment and tackle.
Injuries Aboard Rental Boats & Negligent Boat Rental Companies
Thousands of people flock to South Florida each year seeking fun on the water. One easy way to escape is renting a boat. Boat rentals have their own share of dangers and potential risks to renters, passengers, and crew. Florida has unique laws designed to ensure boat rental companies, also known as liveries, meet their duties in protecting their customers and boaters.
A boat rental company might face liability for injured passengers if it fails to train the renter adequately or if the renter was obviously unable to operate the boat safely. Boat rental companies are obligated to keep renters safe by providing seaworthy vessels and renting only to people who are capable of operating the boat safely.
Companies must rent out their boats only to individuals who are trained, of the appropriate age, and are not obviously under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Peer-to-Peer Boat Rentals
As reported in the Miami Herald, peer-to-peer boat rentals are on the rise in South Florida. Similar to vacation rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO, peer-to-peer boat rental companies allow boat owners to post their vessel for rental for a fee.
It can be difficult to determine who can be held liable when there are injuries aboard one of these privately-owned boats. If the vessel is not properly managed, lacks seaworthiness, or is negligently maintained, the owner and rental company may both face liability depending on the circumstances.
Causes of Commercial Boat Accidents
According to the United States Coast Guard, there are several common contributing factors that cause boating accidents:
- Operator inexperience
- Machinery failure
- Improper lookout
- Operator inattention
- Excessive speed
- Alcohol use
When hiring a commercial vessel, you expect that the boat will be safe and the crew has adequate safety training. When the owner or operator of a commercial vessel fails to provide a safe experience, they must be held accountable for any resulting injuries.
All boat owners are required to follow the Florida Vessel Safety Law — this includes airboats, barges, commercial fishing vessels, motorboats, sailboats, and more. Failure to follow state law can cause liability. According to Section 327.32, all operators must “exercise the highest degree of care in order to prevent injuries to others.”
Furthermore, operators of vessels are required to undergo mandatory boating safety education. Failure to adhere to these and other requirements can devastate tourists and crew members.
Types of Injuries that Occur on Vessels
Some of the most common injuries that occur on boats, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Head injury
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
In some cases, the injuries are catastrophic, resulting in injuries such as paralysis, amputation, spinal injury, life-threatening hypothermia, and others. When an injury is the result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, they must be held accountable.
Injured on a Boating Excursion, Rental, or Tour in Miami or Abroad? Hire an Experienced Attorney.
Boating accidents happen all too frequently in South Florida. Negligent owners and operators must be held accountable to prevent future injuries or death to unsuspecting passengers and crew. Whether you were injured on an excursion, rental, or tour boat, you deserve an attorney who will fight for you.
At Mase Mebane Seitz, our experienced and knowledgeable trial lawyers will hold all negligent or wrongful parties accountable. We are dedicated to bringing justice to those injured in boating accidents. You should not have to settle for less than your case is worth. Contact our lawyers today for a free consultation at (305) 602-4936.
Excursion Injury FAQ
Can I sue if the injury took place during an excursion outside the states?
While these accidents often occur in foreign countries, you may still be able to hold the liable parties accountable in the United States. Establishing jurisdiction depends on whether or not a court has the power to decide a case. This often poses issues for foreign defendants and accidents that happen overseas. Our lawyers understand how to establish jurisdiction over foreign excursion companies to hold them accountable for their negligence.
Can I recover compensation if I signed a liability waiver for a boating excursion?
If you signed a liability waiver, it does not automatically mean that you cannot recover for your injuries. Many waivers are unenforceable or do not sufficiently disclaim liability for the excursion company. Families of those killed or injured during an excursion may also have the legal right to pursue a recovery. Even if you signed a waiver of liability, you might still be entitled to compensation.
What if I was injured by criminal activity?
Tour and excursion operators know more about local risks than you. They may be liable for failing to warn of the risk of crime if they knew or should have known of it.Back to Boating Accidents