How to Protect Your Legal Rights After a Boat Accident
June 4, 2019
Florida Boating Accidents
If you or a loved one is the victim of a boating accident, you know the scare this can cause. On top of injuries and damage to the boat, there is the natural fear of drowning after a boating accident occurs. This may cause long-term injuries and anguish. It can also be confusing to figure out who the responsible party is, whether the incident is covered by insurance and whether the police should be notified.
The Coast Guard calls a “boating accident” an incident in which a passenger on a boat is killed or seriously harmed, a passenger vanishes and it is suspected that he or she drowned or a boat sustains or causes damage. Boat accidents are not just collisions but include incidents when a passenger or someone else is injured, killed or disappears.
Causes of Boating Accidents in Florida
Boat accidents in Florida can occur in numerous ways. Over 1/3 of boat accidents include a driver drinking alcohol. Every state has made boating while under the influence (BUI) a crime. Many states charge expensive fines and even jail those found guilty of this. Despite this, drivers continue to drive under the influence either because they are unaware that these severe laws exist or do not care. When someone is injured as a result of boating while intoxicated, some states assign all liability to the intoxicated boat driver. Even if the driver is not held strictly liable, BUI is still typically considered in establishing liability.
Poor weather, including heavy winds and rain may also result in boating accidents. Boaters can have trouble navigating which can cause collisions. At other times, poor weather can cause boats to capsize. Lightning poses another hazard as passengers can be shocked or even electrocuted or a boat’s electronics can be damaged. Electing to ignore poor weather and failing to return to port when bad weather arrives is sometimes considered negligence and opens the operator up to liability for damages.
A hazard many people do not consider is the possibility of exposure to carbon monoxide. A improperly maintained engine may expose boaters to elevated amounts of toxic fumes that may cause death or serious injuries. Maintaining a boat properly is thus of paramount importance.
Liability for Accidents
As a rule of thumb, a negligent party is responsible for injuries caused by his or her negligence. People are negligent when they do not act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances. Thus, failing to follow safety rules or the failure to be aware of the safety of the passengers and other boaters would likely constitute negligence and open a boater to damages. Failing to maintain a boat or driving a boat while intoxicated would also be considered negligent behavior.
Boating Accident Reports
The Coast Guard requires a boat driver to report an accident when it causes significant injury or damage to property. In reality, this seldom occurs. If you are injured in a boating accident you should make sure the accident is reported to the proper authorities and the cause is made clear in such a report.
In some places, boats are required to be insured. If possible, try to learn if a boat owner carries insurance since this insurance may pay a judgment or settlement for the boat owner. In addition, if a person other than a vessel’s owner is operating the boat, he or she may be held liable and their insurance might pay towards a judgment or settlement as a result.
An experienced Fort Lauderdale attorney should be sought out immediately after a boating accident as maritime laws vary sometimes. A lawyer who is well-versed in this type of law can help you protect your rights and pursue responsible parties for your damages.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Boating Injury Case in Florida
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a boat accident in Florida? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Lawlor, White & Murphey represent clients injured because of boating accidents in Fort Lauderdale and throughout southern Florida. Call 855-347-5475 or email us to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 2211 Davie Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.