When a boater’s carelessness or disregard for safety causes devastating injuries or death, the injured victim may be entitled to damages to cover medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering.
At Heintz & Becker, our boat accident attorneys have more than 30 years of experience. We help victims recover the compensation they deserve. We’ve obtained several significant verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients, and we can help you too.
Even if you don’t think you can afford a lawyer, give us a call. Our Florida injury lawyers work on a contingent-fee basis, which means victims don’t pay anything unless we win their case.
Compensation Available to Boating Accident Victims
Victims of boating accidents may be able to file a lawsuit for personal injuries and/or property damage.
Negligence claims are common among boating accidents. Negligence serves as the legal basis for many personal injury cases. According to Florida statute:
“It is unlawful to operate a vessel in a reckless manner. A person who operates any vessel, or manipulates any water skis, aquaplane, or similar device, in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property at a speed or in a manner as to endanger, or likely to endanger, life or limb, or damage the property of, or injure a person is guilty of reckless operation of a vessel.”
If the victim, also known as the plaintiff, can prove their injury is the direct result of someone else’s negligence, he or she can collect damages. Compensation might include money for things like:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages and/or loss of earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
Determining who is at fault for a boating accident can be challenging because of where these accidents take place; evidence is easily lost or destroyed in water.
But with effective legal representation, negligent boat operators can be held accountable for their actions and brought to justice. In some cases, criminal charges may also apply.
Boating Accidents Are Different…
Florida has the highest number of registered boats in the nation. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), in 2017, there were 766 boating accidents resulting in 437 injuries and 67 fatalities.
Liability insurance is not mandatory for Florida boaters. In fact, operators don’t need a license to operate a vessel or personal watercraft (PWC).
Instead, operators must obtain a Boater Education Card; this card is mandatory for all boat operators born on or after January 1, 1988. In Florida, operators can be as young as 14 years old.
Because our waterways are filled with inexperienced drivers and those unwilling to abide the rules, boating accidents are somewhat common.
In 2016, for example, Florida had almost twice as many boating accidents compared to California, the state with second highest number of boating accidents in the country.
Moreover, boating accidents are different than other types of injury cases (i.e., car accidents, slip and fall cases, etc.).
For example, there are state statutes governing the safe operation of vessels and PWCs, specific safety equipment is required (e.g., fire extinguishers, life jackets, etc.), and maritime laws may be relevant, depending on the circumstances.
Other factors such as mechanical failure on the boat or intoxicated operators can further complicate an injury claim.
For these reasons, it’s critical to hire experienced legal representation following a boating accident.
Common Causes of Boating Accidents
At Heintz & Becker, our boating accident lawyers help victims hold reckless parties accountable for their actions. We will advise you of your legal options and protect your rights. We use a host of resources, including accident reconstructionists and investigators to uncover the cause of your boating accident. The most common types of boating accidents are:
- Sinking, grounding, capsizing and flooding accidents
- Collisions with other vessels or objects (possibly submerged)
- Passenger ejections
- Water skiing or towable device (including tube) accidents
- Fires or explosions
- Accidents in which a person is struck by a vessel, a propeller, a propulsion unit or steering machinery
- Swimming accidents
In some cases, there may be multiple causes, such as a drunk driver and a mechanical failure on the boat itself. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your claim, if another person’s negligence caused you to be injured on a boat, you may be entitled to compensation. We will pursue all possible sources in order to maximize your recovery.
Get the Legal Representation You Deserve
A boat-related accident can devastate a victim and their family. Medical bills and lost wages can quickly exhaust a savings. But with effective legal representation, victims and families can focus on what really matters: recovery.
At Heintz & Becker, we’ll advise you of your legal options and protect your rights.
More importantly, we utilize state-of-the-art resources including accident reconstructionists and investigators to collect evidence and bolster your claim.
Our Bradenton and Sarasota offices are prepared to take your call and assess your case today. Plus, we work on a contingent-fee basis, which means victims don’t pay anything unless we get results.