Boating is a major part of recreational life in coastal Florida, where the ocean and waterways are populated with sailboats, motorboats, pontoons, kayaks, and other watercraft. Unfortunately, maritime accidents involving recreational boating is also a part of life in our state, and these types of accidents can have devastating consequences. Each personal injury and boating accident attorney at Daytona Beach-area Chanfrau & Chanfrau has extensive experience navigating the complexities of Florida maritime laws, and can help you pursue just compensation. If an accident has occurred, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation and review of your case.
About Boating Accidents
According to U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) statistics, motorboats are the most common type of recreational watercraft involved in accidents with injuries or fatalities. In 2013, motorboats were represented in 63% of these casualty accidents. Canoes and kayaks, personal watercraft (jet skis), and pontoons also cause a significant number of injuries and deaths each year. Florida consistently ranks #1 in the country for watercraft-related casualties - not a surprise considering the state's abundant coastline and waterways.
In recreational boating accidents, the type of mishap most commonly cited by the USCG is a collision with another boat, followed by flooding or swamping, a collision with a fixed object, and grounding. Driver inattention and lack of a lookout are the most common causes of serious accidents, followed by operator inexperience, excessive speed, machinery failure, and alcohol use.
Boating accidents also occur in maritime occupations, including commercial fishing and shipping of freight. Cruise ships occasionally have accidents, which are often highly publicized, involving passenger injuries and fatalities. Other boat-related accidents are often related to the pursuit of water sports, such as scuba diving and water skiing.
Pursuing a Personal Injury Case
Maritime and boating laws are intended to help prevent accidents on our waterways. These laws and regulations apply to cruise ships, maritime workers, recreational vessel operators, passengers, and nearly anyone out on the water. Product liability laws that govern the safety standards of vehicles, parts, and equipment also apply to watercraft.
Many of our lawyers at Chanfrau & Chanfrau are avid boaters and have extensive knowledge of maritime law. It is especially important to gather and secure evidence as quickly as possible after a boating accident, before it is washed away or destroyed. It is imperative to seek legal counsel immediately. Evidence of negligence or faulty equipment is crucial to this type of case, and can entitle an accident victim to financial recovery for damages. You may receive compensation for present and future medical costs, wage loss, pain and suffering, and more. If a water craft accident has resulted in the heartbreaking wrongful death of a loved one, you also may be entitled to funeral expenses, loss of benefits, loss of companionship, and other damages.
Causes of Boating Accidents
There are many causes of boating accidents, including:
- Operator Inattention – Boat operators must remain vigilant and monitor their boat at all times, as inclement weather, other boats, vessels, objects, and various unpredictable hazards can come about at any time.
- Operator Inexperience– Operators must be aware not only of basic navigation and boating rules, but also how to handle emergency situations.
- Speeding – Just like you should drive a car at a safe speed, the same concept applies to operating a boat. Operating at a safe speed will allow you time to react to dangers and avoid colliding with other boats and vessels.
- Impaired Operation – Drug and alcohol use can factor into serious and deadly boating accidents. It is not uncommon for excessive drinking and illicit drug use to take place on boats.
- Equipment Failure – In order to stay safe on the water, you need to properly maintain your boat. It is incumbent on the boat owner to make necessary checks to ensure its safe operating condition.
- Violating Navigational Rules – Just like motor vehicles must abide by the rules of the road, boats must adhere to navigational rules. Violating these rules can lead to crashes with other boats or even running the boat aground.
- Inclement Weather – Storms and fierce wind patterns can cause trouble for boat operators, so it is imperative that they check for inclement weather conditions and pay close attention to weather alerts. Large waves and wakes can also result in serious injuries and fatalities.
- Improper Lookout – Not having a designated individual to watch out for hazards and threats is one of the most common causes of boating accidents.
Proving Liability in a Boating Accident
Because there are federal, state, and international maritime laws to consider – each of which have specific regulations – the process of building a claim can be anything but easy. The boating accident attorneys at Chanfrau & Chanfrau have extensive knowledge of maritime law and are experienced in handling these claims.
We will first work to establish who is responsible for the accident. Boating accidents can be caused by a negligent operator who was operating the boat under the influence of drugs and alcohol, or who operated recklessly or carelessly. We will evaluate the facts of your case to establish liability and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. We will ensure that your claim is filed expeditiously and within Florida’s statute of limitations.
Common Types of Injuries in Boating Accidents
From operator inattention to impaired operation, there are many reasons why boating accidents happen. Oftentimes those reasons boil down to negligence. Sadly, a negligent act on the part of a boating operator can lead to an accident causing serious injury or death. There are many types of injuries sustained in boating accidents: slip and fall injuries, death by drowning, burns, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, lung infections (due to the inhalation of water), and broken bones, to name some. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is another very serious type of injury resulting from boating accidents. It can occur when a vessel crashes or capsizes, or if a person is thrown overboard into a rock, dock, or another object.
Schedule a Consultation Today
It is a tragedy when an exciting day of boating ends in catastrophic injury due to the negligence of another party. Our firm is committed to helping victims pursue compensation from responsible parties to offset the financial costs and devastation of severe injuries or the loss of a loved one. We represent plaintiffs on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will not pay anything until a settlement or jury verdict is attained in your case. Contact Chanfrau & Chanfrau to schedule your free consultation today.