With about 1 million registered watercrafts in the state of Florida, accidents on the water are more common than you may think. A watercraft is a vessel on the water that has propelling capabilities, whether by sail, oar, paddle, engine, or something of the like. There are many different types of watercrafts including:
- Personal watercrafts (such as jet skis and wave runners)
- Cabin cruisers
- Kayaks, canoes, paddleboards
Causes of Boating Accidents
There are many different reasons for accidents that can occur on the water. A few of the most common causes include:
- Driver inexperience
- Improper or distracted lookout
- Drugs and alcohol
- Not following the rules of the water
- Lack of boat maintenance
- Faulty or improper equipment
When there is an accident on the water, even if it occurs while a boat is docked, it can be difficult to investigate the case. It may be difficult to collect sufficient evidence because evidence typically sinks to the water’s floor and is often not fully recovered following a boating accident.
What to Do After a Boating Accident
It is important to document the case and the damage immediately following the accident. This is often neglected due to the initial shock and distraction of the accident. Boating accidents are very difficult to reproduce due to changing tides, weather, and lost evidence. This makes investigating the accident challenging, so having as much documentation as possible can be helpful in establishing fault and liability.
It is important to consider that the laws of the water are different from the laws of the land. Maritime (or admiralty) law refers to the laws that govern nautical matters and incidents that occur on the open water. Additionally, there are separate state and federal laws that may apply. Whether the case will go to a state or federal court depends on the specifics of the case, and particularly where the accident occurred. An attorney who is familiar and experienced with maritime law will be able to determine if the case will be filed in state or federal court and will be able to best handle your case.
Boating accidents can cause serious injury due to high speeds and lack of safety restraints such as seat belts. These injuries include broken limbs, lost limbs, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and even death. The injuries from a boating accident can leave the victim in financial and emotional distress and may even leave permanent damage following the accident.
In order to be eligible to receive compensation for injuries and damages incurred as a result of a boating accident, negligence must be established. Without proven negligence and liability of the defendant, compensation is unlikely. Those who may be held liable include:
- Driver of the boat
- Owner of the boat
- Boat manufacturer
- Rental company
- Other passengers on the boat
Liability can fall on one or more people, depending on the specifics of the case. An experienced lawyer will review and investigate your case in order to determine who may be responsible for the damages and injuries.
Once liability is established, you can seek compensation for injuries and damages incurred from the accident including medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. The amount of compensation you may receive depends on multiple factors including the severity of your injuries, specifics and circumstances relating to the accident, and whether or not you were partly at fault for the accident and injuries.