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Liveries and Rentals: Who is liable when a boat rented from a livery is involved in an accident?

October 19, 2021
Personal Injury

The global market for boat rentals is estimated generate a revenue of $20 billion by the end of 2030.

Minimum regulations and protocols for starting a boat rental service are creating attractive opportunities for investors and other stakeholders. After COVID-19, Florida boat rental companies are conducting operations through mobile apps and the internet to minimize contact.

Over the years, there has been a steady increase in the sheer number of boaters. As this trend continues, Florida waterways are showing strains of congestion and there is a rise in the number of boating accidents being reported.

Some Important Facts and Statistics on Boating Accidents in Florida:

  • Florida had the highest number of recreational boating vessels in the United States in 2020, with 985,005.
  • Florida holds the dubious distinction of having the highest number of recreational boating accidents in the country.
  • The 2020 Boating Accident Statistical Report showed 836 boating accidents in Florida, the most since 2011.
  • Miami-Dade County has the second-most number of accidents in the State, behind only Monroe County.
  • Miami-Dade County had 95 reportable boating accidents in 2020, five of these accidents were fatal, and 68 resulted in personal injury.
  • Florida recorded 79 boating accident deaths in 2020.
  • Personal watercrafts (PWCs) were involved in 27% (227) of the boating accidents in Florida.
  • Rented PWCs represented 48% (147) of the PWCs involved in boating accidents in Florida.
  • 38% of PWC accidents occurred in Miami-Dade, Pinellas, and Monroe counties.
  • People falling overboard and drowning was the leading cause of death in boating accidents in Florida.
  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has noted that 88% of the drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.
  • Half of the accidents in 2020 involved collisions where the attention of vessel operators was diverted or proper look-outs were not maintained.
  • 84% of all boating fatalities that occur on boats happen where operators have not completed a boating safety education course.

Liability in a Livery (Boat Rental Company) Boat Accident

In a Livery boat accident, usually, one or many of the following parties can be held liable:

  • The operator of the boat for failing to provide reasonable safety for the passengers or crew members or when the operator is reckless and shows scant regard for the maritime laws and boating regulations.
  • The livery (boat rental company) for leasing out the vessel to a person who was not qualified to operate it, or renting a vessel to any person when the vessel is not seaworthy. A livery can be liable for negligent entrustment of its vessel to a renter and also for not carrying out timely maintenance. Boat liveries cannot rent a boat to anybody under the age of 18.
  • The manufacturer of the boat/vessel for manufacturing defects and design flaws.
  • A passenger for being reckless or for preventing the operator or crew member from fulfilling his or her duty.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident in Florida due to the careless or negligent act of someone else, an experienced boating accident injury lawyer can guide and assist you to recover compensation for the injuries suffered and the pain and anguish that you have had to endure.

Reporting a Boat Accident

A boat operator is required by Florida law to report any accident in which there is a personal injury or property damage of at least $2000 by giving notice to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the police chief of the municipality, or the county sheriff where the incident took place.  It is unlawful to leave the scene of an accident without properly reporting it.

The operator of the vessel involved in an accident resulting in bodily injury, death, or disappearance of any person, or damage to any vessel or property of at least $2,000 shall within the time limit, forward a written report of the accident to the Division of Law Enforcement of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Whenever the operator of the vessel is incapable of making a written report, the owner of the vessel shall make it.

Florida Boating License Requirements

The State of Florida does not have a “Boating License”.   In Florida, anyone born on or after January 1, 1988, is required to carry a photo ID while operating a boat and to take an approved boating safety course to obtain a Boating Safety Identification Card.  This card is valid for life and enables you to operate a boat with 10 horsepower or more.

Determining whether Maritime Law or Negligence Law shall apply.

Operating a boat is a traditional maritime activity.  Whether maritime time law applies depends on the body of water involved. U.S. general maritime law applies to accidents that occur on navigable waters. The test for determining whether a water body is ‘navigable waters’ is whether it is used or able to be used as a way for commerce over which trade and travel are or could be conducted.

What is the Statute of Limitations for filing a Livery Boating Accident Lawsuit in Florida?

There are specific time limits, restrictions and rules for filing a boating injuries lawsuit.  An experienced maritime personal injury lawyer ensures that you fully understand the Federal, State and Local laws that might apply to your case.

There are various deadlines which a victim of a boating injury has to make sure he or she does not miss.

Florida Statute of Limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is four years after the accident that caused the injuries.  In general terms, Floridians have four years from the date of the accident that caused the boating injuries to initiate a civil lawsuit.

If the accident occurred in “navigable waters”, the lawsuit may be governed by maritime laws.  The Statute of limitations for filing a maritime lawsuit is generally three years from the date of the accident.

How Mase Mebane Seitz help you prevail in your case?

Mase Mebane Seitz offers knowledgeable guidance, customized legal services and detailed representation for clients in Miami and all across Florida.  The firm is known to build a personalized case strategy that reflects a client’s legal objectives.

Our team of boating accident attorneys will:

  • Conduct a thorough investigation of the boating accident.
  • Consult medical, legal accident reconstruction experts.
  • Determine whether maritime laws or negligence laws apply to the case.
  • Identify liable parties.
  • Assess the value of your claim.
  • Coordinate and communicate with legal representatives of the defendant/s.
  • Our compassionate boating accident attorneys will help you recover:-
    • Medical Bills.
    • Lost Wages.
    • Damages suffered due to Pain and Suffering.
    • Damages suffered due to Emotional Distress.
    • Costs of future corrective surgeries.
    • Compensation for short-term and long-term loss in productivity.
    • Damages for loss of enjoyment of life and breakdown of personal relationships.
  • Strive for a fair settlement on victim’s behalf.
  • Take the case to trial if required.

Contact a Miami Boating Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a boating accident due to the carelessness, recklessness or negligence of a livery or a person operating a rented boat, you deserve to be duly compensated for the injuries suffered.

As most boating accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, you are not required to pay until you have won your case.

Call an experienced boating accident lawyer at our firm for a free case evaluation right away.

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