While boating is typically a fun and relaxing recreation, it can quickly become a nightmare.
In a split second, you could suffer lacerations, burns, or even death in a recreational boating accident. Common causes of recreational boating accidents in Florida include:
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. Alone, each of these can cause a serious boating accident, and together they can result in catastrophic injury or death.
Click here for Florida Boat license requirements for minors.
Unlike on public streets and highways, bodies of water do not have clearly marked traffic lanes, signals, or signs that can help boaters avoid collisions and potential safety hazards. Boaters can easily be lulled into a false sense of security that lowers their awareness of the world around them. 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.
Many boat owners think there is little to no risk on the open water and drive at an unsafe speed or take unnecessary risks. This frequently happens with jet skis, wave-runners, and other personal watercraft. Unfortunately, passengers and swimmers can be easily injured by reckless and unsafe watercraft operation.
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 claim against the boat owner directly. To prove negligent entrustment, the victim has to prove:
- 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
Click here to read about a seven-figure jet ski negligent entrustment case we handled.
Vicarious liability attributes liability of a boat operator to the boat owner if the boat operator was 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. In situations like this, 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
Most of us who live in Miami and South Florida know that the weather and water conditions can change in an instant. But those visiting Florida may not be aware of how quickly the weather can change or how serene, glassy waters can turn into dark and choppy waters at the drop of a hat. Poor weather or water conditions make safe watercraft operation more difficult, and an inexperienced boat operator may not know how to handle the conditions properly. As a result, boating and watercraft accidents frequently occur.
Click here for South Florida’s boating forecast.
Many of the waterways, marinas, and boat launches around Florida become very crowded, especially on holidays and weekends. There are more inexperienced boat operators on the water during these times, and injuries often result.
Drug or alcohol use/Boating Under the Influence (“BUI”)
Boating is a recreational activity, allowing people to relax and get out on the open water. Because of its laid-back nature, alcohol consumption often goes hand in hand with “being out on the boat.” What many don’t realize is that boating under the influence is just as dangerous as driving under the influence and can lead to similar devastating results. Florida law prohibits people from operating a watercraft while intoxicated on drugs or alcohol. Boating under the influence is a criminal offense and can result in serious or fatal accidents. If a boat operator was under the influence at the time of the accident, they will likely be responsible for any injuries caused as a result.
Click here to read about a case involving injuries caused to our client by a BUI boater.