Florida Leads the Country in Boating Accidents Again in 2019
The State of Florida is Number One in the U.S. for the number of watercraft. In 2019, Florida registered nearly one million vessels with a total of 961,266.
Unfortunately, there were 723 boating accidents reported last year. That number is up from 2018 when the Sunshine State had 607 boat accidents, which resulted in 57 deaths, 297 injuries, and more than $7 million in property damage.
What is the Leading Cause of Florida Boating Accidents and Death?
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports that boaters falling overboard was the leading type of fatal accident. This contributed to 18 deaths last year, according to the Commission’s annual report. Drowning was the leading cause of death in 29 of the 59 reported deaths.
In 2018, almost 30% of the boating accidents in Florida involved collisions between vessels. That percentage was nearly unchanged at 28% in last year.
In addition to motorboats, towed watersport activities as well as canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and paddleboards were also involved in boating accidents resulting in fatalities and injuries.
Other Causes of Boating Accidents in Florida
Operating a vessel on Florida waterways is a significant responsibility. However, in some cases, the boat operator fails to take all the necessary precautions. Frequent causes of boating accidents include the following:
- Not paying attention to surroundings;
- Reckless or careless operation of the boat;
- Boating at dangerous or excessive speeds;
- The inexperience of the boat operator;
- Failure or malfunction of boating equipment;
- Driving too closely to other boats or vessels; and
- Failing to be aware of water skiers, Jet Skis, and other small personal watercraft.
In addition, we have plenty of tourists visiting our state. These people may not be aware of the rules of operation for safe Florida boating.
Alcohol Plays a Part in Many Boating Accidents
A major factor in Florida boating accidents is boating while under the influence (BUI). Statistics show that about 30% of all boating accidents with an impaired operator may end in death.
In Florida, it’s illegal to operate a boat while impaired by alcohol. State law presumes that you are impaired by alcohol when your BAC (blood alcohol content) reaches .08 or higher, but you can be arrested for BUI if your breath, urine, or blood alcohol content is lower than the legal limit.
Most first-offense BUIs are second-degree misdemeanors. These offenses often result in a $500 to $1,000 fine and a maximum of six months in jail.
A Boat Operator May Be Considered Liable for Injuries
There are many reasons why the operator of a motorboat or other vessel may be found negligent and at fault for a victim’s injury in Florida. Most lawsuits for injuries from boating accidents are for negligence. In many cases, the operator of the boat is held liable for negligence during a boating accident if they failed to follow the state’s boating rules, were operating the vessel irresponsibly, or did not use or have the proper safety equipment on board. Other behavior that may be considered negligence includes the following:
- Operating a boat in inclement weather;
- Causing passengers to fall overboard;
- Hitting a big wave that causes the vessel operator to lose control;
- Operating at excessive speeds;
- Operating the boat in a reckless or careless manner;
- Colliding with other boats or a fixed object (such as a dock); and
- Overcrowding or overloading the boat.
The operator of a boat in Florida has a duty to operate the vessel in “a reasonable and prudent manner.” This includes being aware of other boat traffic, posted restrictions, the presence of a scuba diving flag, and other situations to ensure the safety of other boaters, swimmers, and property.
Contact an Experienced Florida Boating Accident Attorney
Boating accidents that result in injuries and/or death should be handled by an experienced Florida boating accident attorney. You should speak with an experienced boating accident attorney to determine your legal rights.
Victims of boating accidents are often awarded compensation for their injuries under Florida law. This may include damages for medical expenses, future medical care, pain and suffering, lost wages, or loss of enjoyment of life. In a fatal boating accident, the victim’s family may be awarded monetary damages for their expenses, emotional distress, the loss of companionship, and financial support.
If you were injured in a serious boating accident in Florida or the accident results in the death of a loved one, contact an experienced boating accident attorney at Florin Gray.
At Florin Gray, our legal team is dedicated to the pursuit of justice for the people we represent. Our law firm has more than 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in personal injury law. We operate differently than many law firms and always put the best interests of our clients first. Contact us today.