South Florida Boating & Personal Watercraft Accident Attorneys

West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County

Blue and white yacht on waterway. Jet ski, wave runner, motorboats , sailboats and cruiseship accidentssIn 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard counted 4,145 accidents that involved 633 deaths and 2,511 injuries  and $46 million in property damage as a result of recreational boating accidents. The fatality rate was 5.3 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.

In 2020, Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission (FWC) reported 836 boating accidents in Florida. That is the highest in nine years and above the average of 722. Palm Beach County ranked third for the number of boating accidents in the state, behind Monroe and Miami-Dade Counties. Of those, 75 were fatal, resulting in deaths.

The top five primary boating accident types included — collision with recreational vessel, collision with fixed object, flooding/swamping, grounding, and falls overboard. Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, machinery failure, excessive speed and alcohol use where the top six primary contributing factors of boating accidents. The majority for the deaths were the result of drowning (79%), where 86% were not wearing a life jacket. One should always wear a life jacket when on open water.

The accidents are not limited to open motorboats (45%) but also include personal watercrafts {19%} (jet skis and wave runners), cabin motorboats {16%} (sailboats and cruise ships) and other recreational vessels (canoes, kayaks, airboats, parasailing and stand-up paddleboards). Accidents can occur on lakes, ponds, rivers, inlets, marinas, harbors, on the ocean and in the gulf.

Every year, thousands of locals and tourists flock to Florida’s lakes, rivers and coasts to take advantage of the sun and surf. However, thousands of people are catastrophically injured or die due to unsafe and negligent boating. Unfortunately, most of these accidents could be prevented so that the livelihood and lives of innocent people are not put at risk.

When accidents occur, it is usually because of operator inattention followed by improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, alcohol use (boating under the influence – BUI), machinery failure (defective products, equipment failure), navigation rules violations, hazardous waters, weather, and force of wave/wake.

Boating, water recreation, maritime and admiralty claims can be complex and can often involve state, federal or international laws depending on the location of the incident. It’s important to speak with an experience law firm that can help you to get compensated for lost wages, medical bills, and other damages.

For example, if a negligent boat operator hit your vessel, you may be able to claim damages caused to either your person or your property. As well, federal law requires the operator of a vessel involved in an accident to file a report if there are serious injuries, death, or property damage in excess of $2000. That report can be admissible as evidence in a civil suit.

If you or a loved one has been injured or died due to a boating or recreational water accident, and would like to learn more about your legal rights, please contact us here.

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