South Florida Boating Accidents
While boating is a fun activity and pastime for many South Florida residents and tourists, it’s should be approached with safety in mind. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were over 4,000 boating accidents nationwide, with over 600 fatal accidents in 2014 and over 2,000 injuries. In Florida alone, over 700 boating accidents were reported in 2013 with 62 resulting in death, reported by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Were you or a loved one injured in a Florida boat crash? If so, specific laws apply to boat accidents—and it is essential you contact our experienced boat accident attorneys to discuss your case as soon as possible.
Zimmerman & Frachtman Boating/Cruise/Personal Watercraft Settlements:
- $250,000 SETTLEMENT – Boating Accident / Personal Watercraft
- 39 MILLION JURY VERDICT – Jet Ski Accident
- $5,000,000 JURY VERDICT – Personal Watercraft / Defective Design
- $250,000 SETTLEMENT – Boating Accident / Personal Watercraft
- 48.5 MILLION SUBMISSION TO JURY – Jet Ski Accident
- $7,000,000.00 SETTLEMENT – Confidential V. Cruise Line, Ltd.
Experienced South Florida Boating Accident Attorneys
At Zimmerman and Frachtman, we have successfully helped victims of boating accidents with the proper defense in order to see that they are compensated for all injuries and distress that they have experienced. We are knowledgeable in all legal aspects related to boating accidents as well as cruise ship accidents and personal watercraft accidents (such as jet skis, wave runners, etc.).
Serving all of South Florida, we are very familiar with what boating companies are responsible for and what types of compensation you are entitled to when you experience an injury.
Common Types of Boat Accident Cases
Unfortunately, there are so many different ways in which a passenger could suffer an injury or even pass away when aboard a boat. However, some of the following ways in which an injury can occur include:
- Collisions with other vessels
- Collisions with fixed objects
- Striking under water objects
- Slip and Fall Accidents on the boat
- Automatic Door Accidents
- Fuel fires or explosions
- Passenger falls overboard
- Personal watercraft accident
- Dangerous Waters & Boating Negligence
- Propeller Injury
- Tender Boat Accidents
- Gangway Accidents
- Deep-Sea Fishing / Charter Boat Accidents
- Airboat accidents
- Boat Crew Member Accidents
Unfortunately, there is no age requirement for boating in Florida, and boaters 30 years of age and older are not required to have boating licenses or even to undergo boating safety courses. This means that many Florida boaters are not licensed or trained in boating safety, which can make a boating crash even more severe.
What many Florida residents—and even some attorneys—do not know is that any accident that occurs on a public waterway falls under federal admiralty jurisdiction, which has a separate set of laws for injuries sustained due to a boat accident. Your Florida personal injury and maritime attorney must know which standards to use when petitioning the court for compensation.
Top 10 Primary Contributing Factors to Boating Accidents
Boating accidents can happen for a variety of reasons. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the top ten primary contributing factors to boating accidents include:
- Operator inattention
- Operator inexperience
- Improper Lookout
- Machinery failure
- Excessive speed
- Navigation rules violation
- Alcohol use
- Force of wave/wake
- Hazardous waters
Boating education courses provide many ways for boat operators to provide a safe boating experience for them and their passengers.
However, when tragedy does strike, damage or loss of personal property, injuries, lost wages, rising medical bills, all need to be reviewed when an accident happens. The attorneys at Zimmerman & Frachtman are skilled in laws and the subtitles of boating and maritime law and can represent you in boating accidents involving:
- Boater irresponsibility
- Inadequate boat maintenance accidents (link to Inadequate boat maintenance article)
- Boating while intoxicated and/or under the influence
- Sailboat accidents
- Personal watercraft accidents
- Recreational boat accidents
Claims and Compensation Your Boat Accident in South Florida
If you were injured in a Florida boating accident, you may seek compensation for the following:
- Medical Bills
- Medications and medical supplies
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage or loss of personal property
- Pain and suffering
- and more
Contact Zimmerman & Frachtman today
If you or a loved one has been injured or died due to a boating accident or a personal watercraft accident and would like to learn more about your legal rights, please contact Zimmerman & Frachtman online or call (954) 509-1900.
Boating & Recreational Water Craft Safety
Best Practices for Safe Boating Excursions
The National Safe Boating Council shows that in 2010, there were 672 boating fatalities. Almost 75% of all fatal boating accident victims downed, of which 88% were not wearing life jackets. Alcohol use is a predominate factor in 19% of the deaths that stemmed from fatal boating accidents.
The top contributing factors for boating accidents and recreational boating fatalities include operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, alcohol use, force of wave/wake, hazardous waters, machinery failure, rules of the road, and weather.
Boating accident do happen, but with knowledge, experience, and preparation, you can reduce the effects of a boating accident. Here are some boating safety best practices:
- Wear a Life Jacket – The boat captain(s) and all passengers should wear U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved life jackets/life preservers/flotation devices. The USCG states that 80% of boating fatality victims could have been saved had they worn a life jacket.
- Take a Boating Safety Course – Operator errors account for 70% of boating accidents. Boating safety courses are offered throughout the country and online. For courses offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxillary, the U.S. Power Squadron, and other qualified sources.
- Know Your Boat – Know how to manage your boat. Be thoroughly familiar with navigation, boat safety, boat handling, boat equipment line handling, anchoring, engine trouble shooting, and emergency response procedures.
- Get a Free Vessel Safety Check (VSC) – The U.S. Coast Guard will complete a courtesy examination of your vessel (boat) to verify the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulation. Click here to access the Vessel Safety Check Examiner Database.
- Know the Navigation Rules – Learn the boating rules of the waterway and how to avoid collisions by using nautical charts and by using navigation aids like buoys.
- Operate your Boat at a Safe Speed – The U.S. Coast Guard Rules state that every vessel (boat) shall at all times proceed at a safe speed to that they can take proper and effective action to avoid collisions and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions. Click here for more details.
- File a Float Plan – You should always prepare a float plan. Plans include boat information, passenger information, and full trip itinerary. For a sample Float Plan, click here.
- No Boating Under the Influence – Do not drink and boat. It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state.
- Carry a VHF Marine Radio – Boaters should have an operational marine VHF radio on their boat in order to contact the Coast Guard on channel 16 in the event an emergency.
- Check Weather Conditions – Boat captains should check current and forecasted weather conditions prior to getting underway and remain aware of changing conditions once on the water. The National Weather Service broadcasts weather conditions throughout the day on VHF channel WX2. The Coast Guard broadcasts weather conditions on VHF channel 22A at 9:30 a.m., noon, and 4:30 p.m.
- Don’t Overload your Boat – Know the passenger capacity and cargo capacity of your boat to avoid being swamped or capsizing. See your owner’s manual.
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Educate yourself about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. To learn about carbon monoxide symptoms, poisoning, and treatment.
- Check your Boating Safety State and Local Requirements – Make sure you know the local boating laws and regulations prior to boating. Click here for the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators for local laws and requirements.
Inadequate Boat Maintenance Accidents
While you had to study driver’s safety and education to earn your driver’s license, you should do the same with your boat. Learning how to safely operate and maintain your vessel will keep you and your passengers safe while out on the open water. Many states require boating safety courses and licenses. While Florida doesn’t require a boater’s license. Those that were born in 1988 or after are required to take a boating safety course and are given a “Florida Boating Safety Education Identification Card,” which is required to operate a boat.
In addition to knowing how to operate safely on the waterways, maintaining your vessel is also key to boating safely. Missing routine or small repairs could lead to dangers on the water. Serious injuries and even loss of life can happen when a boat is not maintained properly. Some accidents that result from improper or missed boat maintenance are:
- Not having the proper amount of life vest onboard
- Expired, inaccessible, or no fire extinguishers onboard
- Safety equipment malfunctions (for example, lifelines or rails that are rusted or deteriorated)
- Fuel system not regularly maintained could lead to sparks or fire
- Engine compartments that are dirty or contain flammable materials, like oily rags
- Damaged propellers
- Bilge pump is functioning incorrectly
When boats are not properly maintained, threats to safety of those onboard and others sharing the waterways can occur. Boats that are not maintained properly can often lead to disastrous effects, such as serious injuries or even death. If you feel that you were injured due to improper boat maintenance, have a personal injury attorney on your side can make a difference in how your claim is handled.
Your Trusted South Florida Boat Accident Attorneys
Our South Florida boat accident attorneys at Zimmerman and Frachtman have the necessary knowledge and experience to represent you and your rights to compensation from injury on a boat.
Contact our South Florida boating accident lawyers today at 954-509-1900 for an initial review and consultation of your case.