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Understanding Florida’s Life Jacket Laws

August 14, 2023
Boat Accident

Why Wearing a Life Jacket Is Critical When Boating

Studies show that wearing a life jacket is absolutely critical for survival if you are involved in a boating accident. As reported by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, drowning is often the leading cause of death in recreational boating accidents, and the vast majority of drowning victims are not wearing a life jacket at the time. 

Life Jacket Laws in Florida

It is a common misconception that people do not need to wear a life jacket or personal flotation device while boating. In fact, as reported by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), the state “urges” all people onboard a vessel to wear a life jacket. Additionally, all vessels are required to have wearable U.S. Coast Guard-approved “personal floatation devices (PFDs)” for each person. The PFDs must be the correct size for the person and be “within easy access.”

Certain groups are required to wear personal floatation devices or life jackets:

  • All children under the age of six must wear a Type I, II, or III Coast Guard-approved PFD if they are onboard a vessel that is under 26 feet in length and is underway.
  • Any person on a personal watercraft must also wear an “approved non-inflatable wearable” PFD. This includes individuals that are operating the personal watercraft, riding on it, or being towed behind it.
  • A person water skiing or using an aquaplaning device must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved non-inflatable wearable personal floatation device. 
  • Any person being towed behind a boat is required to wear a USCG- approved PFD.

Failure to follow these rules may result in serious consequences. You could be fined by local law enforcement, but more importantly, you could be seriously injured or killed if you are involved in a boating accident. 

What Happens If You Are Not Wearing a PFD?

As reported by the FWC, 65 people died in recreational boating accidents in 2022. Downing is the leading cause of death in these accidents. Tragically 81% of people who died in these drowning accidents were not wearing a life jacket at the time. 

In addition to putting your life at risk, not wearing a personal floatation device can also affect your right to compensation in the event you are injured due to another person’s negligence. It is important to discuss your case with an attorney to discuss how your recovery could be impacted by the fact that you weren’t wearing a life jacket at the time of the accident. 

Contact Our Office to Discuss Your Rights

If you were injured on a boat while you were not wearing a life jacket, contact our office to discuss your rights. At Mase Seitz Briggs, we have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. 

We provide focused, experienced representation for clients in Miami and throughout South Florida. We offer free, no-obligation consultations for injured parties and will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve. Call our office today at (844) 627-3529 to speak with a member of our legal team. 

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