If you have been injured in a Florida boating accident due to another’s negligent actions, a skilled boating accident lawyer can help you put together a successful claim.
Below, we’re going to explain what you need to do to file a Florida boating injury lawsuit and how the entire process works.
Main Types of Boating Accidents in Florida
The majority of recreational boating accidents in Florida include:
Hitting Another Boat
When two boats collide, most of the time both boat operators will be held partially responsible. The court will determine the percentage of responsibility based on the facts of the case.
For example, if one boat operator was speeding but the other boat operator was in a restricted area, they may both be at fault for the accident. You cannot win a claim unless your percentage of responsibility is less than 50 percent of the total.
Another fact to keep in mind is that sailboats have more right-of-way than motorboats. In a collision case between a motorboat and a sailboat, the motorboat operator will have a greater burden of proof.
Hitting Another Boat’s Wake
If the boat operator hits another boat’s wake, the impact can cause passengers to fall out of their seats or go overboard.
Boat operators are required by federal and state boating laws to practice safe boating operations. They are expected to keep a lookout for unsafe conditions. In a case like this, the liability may not be clear. A skilled attorney will look at details like these to determine liability:
- Wake size
- Speed at time of impact
- Weather conditions and visibility
- Other water traffic
- Whether the operator issued a warning to passengers
If the boat was inside a no wake zone when the accident occurred, the boat operator may be held liable. Also, if the boat operator was speeding in a crowded area, he or she may be held liable for creating an inappropriate wake. Check with a knowledgeable attorney to know how the liability falls if your claim involves a hitting a wake.
Hitting a Wave
Unlike a wake accident, a wave does not involve another boat operator. However, the operator of your boat may be held liable for injuries if negligence was involved. Here are several examples of operator negligence:
- Distracted operation
- Inexperienced operation
- Negligence in looking out for sudden changes
- Impairment due to alcohol or drugs
- Failure to follow navigational rules
- Failure to inspect and maintain equipment
- Failure to heed warnings of adverse weather conditions
Any of these conditions can cause a boat operator to hit a wave and cause injuries.
Hitting an Object
If the boat operator hits a submerged object, rock, or the land, he or she could be held liable for injuries that may have resulted from the collision. Liability will depend on the details of the case.
For example, if a boat operator is speeding in foggy conditions and runs into a rock, negligence is probably involved. However, if a boat operator is progressing with caution and following navigational charts when he or she hits an object, there may be no liability. Check with your attorney to understand how liability applies in a case like this.
How to Establish Negligence in Florida
If you are hurt while boating and believe someone else is to blame for your injuries, your lawyer will need to establish liability based on negligence. In every negligence case, four elements must be proven true:
Duty—The boat’s owner or operator had a legal responsibility to provide safe conditions to you under reasonable care.
Breach of Duty—The boat’s owner or operator failed to meet their duty. The mistake or unlawful act that led to a breach is called negligence.
Causation—The breach of duty caused harm to you.
Damages—You suffered financial damages as a direct result of the incident.
If all of these elements are proven, you will win your claim.
Filing a Florida Boating Accident Claim
An experienced Florida boating accident attorney can help you determine who is liable. They can also estimate the amount of damages you can receive based on your medical bills, lost income, projected lost earnings, projected medical bills, and pain and suffering.
If the boat operator has boaters’ insurance, your lawyer will pursue a claim against the insurer. A skilled attorney will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call today for a free case review with a knowledgeable Florida boating injury lawyer.
About the Author:
Since 1994, seasoned litigation and trial lawyer Anthony B. White has helped thousands of accident victims seek damages due to injuries sustained as a result of another party’s negligence. Included in America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals and selected to the 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions of Florida Super Lawyers, Mr. White specializes in car accidents, insurance disputes, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice cases. He is a longstanding member of the Florida Justice Association and the American Association for Justice and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Justice Association.