Driver Negligence is the Leading Cause of Florida Boating Accidents
Author: Attorney Daniel Villalobos
Just a few months ago, a man who was an experienced diver and fisherman, and who loved nothing more than being on his boat, was killed when his boat collided with another one while the two vessels were out for an evening of pleasure on Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway. The impact of the crash threw the man into the water where he drowned. His body was not found until the following day. Two people in the other boat were also thrown into the water, but survived. Three boat passengers were injured so seriously, they had to be taken to the hospital.
According to a Florida statistical report, this was not a rare event. There are more registered water vessels in Florida than in any other state. With Florida’s unique boating opportunities, the Atlantic Ocean on one side, the Gulf of Mexico on the other, and thousands of lakes, both big and small, including the fourth largest natural lake in the U.S., the 448,000-acre Lake Okeechobee, the number of registered vessels is not likely to decrease. More boats on the water obviously means more accidents.
The leading cause of boat accidents is collision with another vessel. In 2014, 73 people lost their lives in Florida boating accidents. In 12 percent of deaths, alcohol is reported to have played a factor. In addition to the fatalities, 365 suffered reportable injuries. A reportable injury is one where the injured person requires medical treatment beyond simple first aid.
Almost all boating accidents are due to someone’s negligence. In Florida, 81 percent of all accidents are due to an inexperienced boat operator. An inattentive driver, whether experienced or inexperienced, accounts for 69 percent of accidents. Excessive speed is responsible for 66 percent of all Florida boat accidents. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that in 21 percent of all boating accident deaths in all states, the use of alcohol was a contributing factor.
Boat captains have an obligation to their passengers to operate their boats safely in compliance with all laws. This is true in all states as well as Florida. When their negligence is the cause of another’s injury or death, they may be held liable and be required by law to pay for the damages.
Those who are injured may be entitled to collect for their:
- Medical expenses.
- Lost wages.
- Rehabilitation expenses.
- Vocational retraining.
- Pain and suffering.
- Permanent loss.
If you were injured by the negligence of a boat driver, either the driver of the boat in which you were a passenger or of another operator who caused a collision, or someone you love was killed, contact an experienced boating accident personal injury attorney who will review the facts of your case and advise you about what to do next.