You look out over the water in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and you instantly think: relaxation, calm, and blue seas to match the blue skies. You see boats of all sizes from sailboats to cruise ships floating seamlessly along the tranquil waters.
What you don’t consider is that you could slip or fall on a boat or yacht, resulting in a serious or even fatal personal injury. It’s not always smooth sailing – every time you step on a boat the possibility of a personal injury exists, much like automobiles, trucks or motorcycle accidents. The difference is Florida has so many boats; Florida leads the U.S. with 982,470 registered boats and close to 1 million nonregistered boats. Florida’s good weather makes it a haven for all type of watercraft, from boats to jet skis, Sea Duos and Wave runners.
According to The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there were 620 reportable boating accidents and 65 boating related fatalities in Florida in 2009. Many of these deaths were due to victims falling overboard or the boat capsizing and the passengers drowning. And unfortunately, 70% of the Florida boat operators involved in reportable boating accidents had no formal boat education, leading to inexperience, inattention or negligence.
Additionally in 2009, Florida boat accidents resulted in over $10M worth of property damage.
Owners and operators of boats or yachts are responsible for the safety of their ship and compliance with Florida’s maritime laws and regulations. Should a personal injury occur as a result of negligence or violation of safety regulations, a boat’s owner can be held liable.
It is important that boat or yacht owners comply with the laws governing the safety of a sea going vessel. There should be life preservers, fire extinguishers, ship rails and other safety features. Even if these safety features are in place but malfunctioning, a boat owner can be held accountable for not performing the necessary maintenance to make sure everything on the boat is in good working order. Boat owners must consider everything, from weather conditions and sea conditions to safety hazards such as loose boards and ropes.
Federal law requires that the boat operator or owner file a boating accident report with the state reporting authority should any of the conditions occur:
• A person dies
• A person disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury
• A person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid
• Damage to vessels and other property totals $2,000
• The boat is destroyed.
If you have been injured on a boat in Florida or while engaged in other water sport activities, you should contact a Florida personal injury attorney immediately. A Florida personal injury lawyer will consult medical professionals, accident investigators, and safety experts to see if any negligence was involved. He/she will interview eyewitnesses and crew members to determine if anything could have been done in advance to prevent the Florida boating accident. A personal injury attorney will know the right questions to ask: Was alcohol or excessive speed involved? Were there any right –of way violations or was the boat accident due to inexperience or carelessness?
If you or a member of your family was involved in a Florida boating accident, there may be serious medical, financial and emotional issues. In addition to compensation for medical bills and lost wages, you could be awarded punitive damages above and beyond compensation for your injuries if the boat owner was involved in any dangerous activities.
From boarding to disembarking, hopefully your Florida boating experience will result in an adventure … not a personal injury accident.
The law firm of Lawlor Winston White & Murphey provides the very best representation to their clients – ensuring they are represented at the highest and most effective levels, focusing on protecting the rights of individuals and families. Practice areas include Catastrophic Personal Injury including Wrongful Death, Auto Accidents, Premises Liability, Insurance Bad Faith Disputes, Professional Malpractice, Commercial Litigation, Maritime/Admiralty, Labor & Employment Disputes and ERISA Claims. The firm is headquartered at 2211 Davie Blvd, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33312. They may be contacted at (954) 525-2345. Additional information about Lawlor Winston White & Murphey may be obtained from the Firm’s website at www.lwmcruiseinjurylawyers.com.