Boating accidents are very common in Florida which is the home to many beaches and bodies of water, including open ocean water. Therefore, there are many boating and other watercraft related accidents each year, often resulting in serious injury or death.
Faulty equipment and boat owner negligence are the most common causes of boating accidents, causing collisions, passengers falling overboard and onboard slip-and-falls. Waterskiing and the use of alcohol while operating the water vessel are other common causes of accidents.
You do not need a boating license to operate a boat or watercraft in Florida. However, anyone under 22 years of age does need a Boating Safety Education ID Card and anyone under 14 years of age is prohibited from operating a boat or watercraft.
Unfortunately Florida is a leader in the nation for the number of boating accidents resulting in fatalities. Generally these accidents end in either death or severe injuries.
Reckless or careless operation in a boating claim is defined as actions where the operator or passengers of the vessel disregard the safety of others and results in death or injury. It is also unlawful for any person to drive a boat or other watercraft while under the influence of alcohol (at or above .08 percent for those over 21). Additionally, violators can face civil claims from victims and families due to the reckless operation of a watercraft.
Victims of boating accidents often suffer brain and spinal cord injuries as well as, carbon monoxide poisoning, fractures, lacerations, bruising and concussions. Drowning, of course, is the number one cause of death resulting from these types of accidents.
The statute of limitations for a boating accident under Florida law is generally four years from the date the incident occurred. However, where maritime law is in effect, the time limit will be only three years and a torts claim must be brought against the defendant.
Maritime law applies in situations when the accident occurs in “navigable waters.” Additionally under this law many duties are placed on the boat or vessel captain for the safety of all passengers. If you are injured in an accident occurring in “navigable waters” it is important to contact a personal injury attorney who has experience in dealing specifically with maritime law because other specific variables will apply.