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Boating Injuries & How to Prevent Them
Florida is home to some of the finest waterways in the nation. From our canals and waterways to the Gulf and lakes to the open ocean, Florida is known for its perfect year-round climate and many days spent on the water. It is easy to see why boating is a large part of our Florida lifestyle, but with a lot of boats on the water, Florida also has the highest number of boating accidents in the country. Whether you are fishing, boating for leisure, or playing pirate during a Gasparilla invasion, the next time you step on a boat make sure you know the basics about Florida’s boating laws to help keep you and others safe while on the water.
Florida’s Boating & Maritime Laws
Anyone can drive a boat in Florida. There is no age requirement for boating and operators, or drivers, are not required to have a boating license. New laws do require those born after 1988 to take a short boating course. Florida also does not require boating insurance to take a boat out on the water. Some banks (if you do not own the boat outright), marina rentals, or businesses may require insurance to operate a boat. If you are injured in a boating accident, this can make filing a claim for damages even more complicated.
Causes of Boating Accidents
There are a wide variety of reasons for a boating accident to occur. Since Florida boaters are not required to be licensed or to have boating safety training (over 30 years of age), there is a higher risk of accidents. Here are the most common reasons for boating accidents in Florida:
- Distracted driver
- Speeding or failure to follow navigational rules
- Inexperienced driver
- Drugs or alcohol use
- Inadequate or malfunctioning equipment
- Adverse weather conditions
- Collisions with other boats or fixed objects
- Capsizing or sinking
Our boat injury attorneys know how to navigate the complexities of your accident case. We handle every case with care because your family is our family. Call our South Tampa, FL law firm to speak with a personal injury specialist.
Boating Under the Influence & Injury
Sadly, many boating accidents happen when people are operating a vessel while drunk or on drugs. Just as you should not drive under the influence on a public highway, it is also against the law to operate a boat under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances. If you are operating any type of water vessel and your blood alcohol level is .08 or higher you are violating the law and could be charged with boating under the influence (BUI).
Victims of BUI accidents may be entitled to sue for compensation from an at-fault party for the injuries you suffered. This compensation can be used to cover pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and more. Legally you may even be able to sue for punitive damages provided that the boating accident involved acts of negligence or wrongful conduct. With the help of a Florida injury lawyer, you may also be entitled to collect from their insurance company. Contact Mickey Keenan Law today –813-871-1300.
I’ve Been Injured, What Next?
Being injured in a boating accident does not differ too much from being injured in a motor vehicle accident. If you own a boat or ever plan on being on a boat, make sure you take note of these steps after an accident has occurred:
Call for Help
- The first step you should take after a boat accident, is to call for help. Instead of calling 911, contact the Florida Coast Guard immediately.
- Due to the nature of boating, a lot of accidents occur in remote locations and it makes it hard for emergency responders/paramedics to arrive immediately.
Seek Medical Attention
- Boating crashes can be more severe than a car accident due to lack of protection like seat belts. Even if you do not have any superficial injuries, you should still seek medical attention immediately, as a lot of injuries can show up later, such as back/neck injuries or concussions.
- Compensation from damages is tied directly to medical evaluations, so it is imperative to go to a doctor no matter how you feel after an accident.
Document the Accident
- As with any transportation-related accident, make sure you document the accident and scene as best as you can. With boating accidents, documentation can help prove your case.
- Since police/coast guard cannot respond as quickly as they would to a motor vehicle accident, you will want to make sure to document things immediately after the accident, in case conditions or evidence changes before help arrives. If safe to do so, take photos or videos of:
- Your boat/the other boat
- Boating signs
- Any other pertinent things that you think would help your case, such as pictures of beer bottles in the other boat, water conditions, etc.
What If the Boating Accident Happened out in the Ocean or Gulf?
Accidents that occur on open waters past Florida’s territorial waters fall under federal admiralty jurisdiction. Maritime law, also known as admiralty law, is the body of law that governs the entities that operate vessels on open waters like oceans. While generally injury and accident and are traditionally based in Florida state law, in admiralty cases they may be handled in federal court. We understand the different judicial procedures and laws of the state and federal courts.
Call a Boat Accident Attorney
If you have been involved in a boating accident make sure to contact Mickey Keenan, P.A. as soon as possible. It is imperative to have an experienced boating accident attorney on your side.
Our skilled personal injury attorneys will make sure you are being properly compensated for any injuries due to a boating accident. Your family is our family so we will investigate the details of the case and work with any party necessary to make it right.
Call us at 813-871-1300 to schedule your free consultation with our Tampa, FL based personal injury law firm.