While boating is typically a fun and relaxing recreation, it can quickly become a nightmare.
In a split second, you can suffer lacerations, burns, or even death in a recreational boating accident.
Under Florida law, vessels are considered “dangerous instrumentalities,” 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.
If you were injured in a recreational boating accident caused by another person or company’s negligence, call Mase Mebane Seitz today to discuss your case. We can explain your options in a free consultation and pursue compensation on your behalf.
Common Causes Of Recreational Boating Accidents In Florida
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.
Follow this link to read the Florida Boat license requirements for minors.
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 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, 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 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 direct legal claim against the boat owner.
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
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
Most of us who live in Miami and South Florida know that 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 dark and choppy at the drop of a hat. Poor weather or water conditions make safe watercraft operation difficult, and an inexperienced boat operator may not know how to handle the conditions properly. As a result, boating and watercraft accidents frequently occur.
Miami Recreational Boating Accident Statistics
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), there were over 700 reportable accidents in 2019. Of those accidents, 433 resulted in injuries to a passenger or operator, and 65 were fatal. Open motorboats are consistently the most common type of vessel involved in a boating accident.
Miami-Dade County issues the largest number of boating safety Education Identification Cards in the state, but 80% of fatal boating accidents involve an uneducated operator. Reportable boating accidents most often occur between 4:00 – 5:59 pm 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 2019, alcohol or drug use contributed to 32% of boating fatalities.
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.
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.
Holding Negligent Operators Accountable – Call Mase Mebane Seitz at (844) 627-3529
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.