Off the coast of Florida each year, thousands of people are injured due to boating accidents. Dozens more sustain fatal injuries. Accidents in this category can occur on a cruise ship, privately owned vessel, ferry, jet ski or other form of watercraft. The issue is particularly serious in Florida. Though the number of registered water vessels had a downward trend for several years, the numbers started to rise again in 2017.
After an accident involving a watercraft, it’s very important to preserve as much evidence as possible which can be very challenging if the mishap took place on a moving body of water like a river. Because proving liability is so difficult, it’s very important to contact a boat accident attorney if you or a family member has sustained an injury in a boating mishap. They will be able manage your claim and acquire the required evidence in a timely manner.
Causes of Boating Accidents
Many boating accidents are avoidable. They are the result of operator negligence, lack of attention or inexperience. There are several dangers inherent in the operation of a watercraft of which many operators are unaware. Capsizing is the most common cause of boat accidents that are fatal. Colliding with another watercraft and falling overboard round out the top three.
Often, alcohol is a factor, especially with recreational boating accidents. The U.S. Coast guard approximates that an individual with a concentration of blood alcohol above 10% is 10 times more likely to be killed when operating a boat than someone who hasn’t been drinking at all.
Laws Governing Boating
Both operators and owners of boats are obligated to follow federal and state laws that mandate how to maintain and operate their vehicles. Florida law prohibits anyone from operating a watercraft in a manner that is so negligent or reckless, that it may jeopardize the life, limb or property of anyone else.
The laws extend to the operation of any watercraft in areas populated by divers or swimmers. The operator can’t drive erratically and must maneuver the vessel in such a way that it doesn’t abruptly reduce speed or swerve to prevent a collision. Operators must also keep in mind traffic in the area, visibility, weather conditions and other potential dangers.
Additionally, the watercraft must be managed in safe conditions that include:
- An adequate supply of life jackets
- At least one fire extinguisher (depending on the size of the vessel)
- Properly displayed navigation lights
- Sufficient ventilation
- A bilge pump if necessary
Boat Accident Lawyers in Vero Beach are Eager to Help
There is no shortage of negligent behavior that can cause a serious boating accident. Severe injuries and even death are very real possibilities. You and your family deserve fair compensation if you sustain injuries as the result of a boat operator’s negligence.
If you or someone in your family has sustained injuries in a watercraft accident, contact the experienced attorneys at Vocelle & Berg, LLP in Vero Beach. We have the network and resources needed to hire investigators who can reconstruct the accident to quickly determine who was at fault.