Boat Accident Lawyers in Florida
Aggressive Representation for Accident Victims & Their Families
Boating is a very popular recreational activity in Florida. In fact, Florida leads the nation with a total number of 985,005 registered vessels in 2020. Families and friends enjoy congregating on the coastal waters and inland lakes throughout our beautiful state. But this leisure activity is not without serious risks. Boating accidents happen all too often. In fact, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement, there were 836 reportable boating accidents in 2020 alone. Collision with a vessel was listed as the leading type of accident occurring in Florida.
When boat accidents do occur, the injuries can be tragic. Injuries can include head and traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, propeller injuries, neck and back injuries, and most often – drowning or near-drowning injuries.
Smith, Ball & Báez has helped countless Florida residents recover damages after boating accidents. With millions of dollars recovered for our clients, our Florida boating accident attorneys fight tirelessly for boating accident victims and their families.
Common Causes of Boat Accidents in Florida
Boating accidents occur for a variety of reasons. Common causes include:
- Boater inexperience
- Operating a boat while distracted, including texting
- Overloading, improper loading, or not properly seating occupants
- Drug or alcohol use
- Breaking navigational rules
- Inadequate life vests or other safety equipment
- Operating a boat where there are swimmers or divers in the water
- Poor boat maintenance
- Boating in bad weather
Who Is Accountable for Boat Accidents?
Whether an injured boater can recover compensation after an accident depends on the specific circumstances involved, including who owned or operated the boat, whether the injured party was a child, and whether intoxication or impairment, or another boating violation was involved.
Various parties may be held responsible for boat accidents in Florida. Often, the operator is the responsible party. However, other parties also might be accountable for the accident. For example, if the boat’s owner negligently entrusts or permits someone else to operate the vessel knowing that person is incompetent to safely operate the vessel, he or she could be sued. Also, if an equipment malfunction caused the accident, the manufacturer could be held liable. In some instances, it may be possible to file a claim against a passenger if he or she caused or contributed to the accident.
Because there are so many variables involved in boat accidents, hiring an attorney is essential. Smith, Ball & Báez will investigate the case and collect evidence against all at-fault parties. The team at Smith, Ball & Báez will then pursue claims against all responsible parties to get you the compensation you deserve.
Recoverable Damages in Florida Boat Accidents
You might be eligible to recover economic and non-economic damages for your Florida boat accident. Common damages include payment for medical bills, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering, and permanent disability. Your attorney will consider what you’ve lost thus far, as well as your future losses when fighting for damages on your behalf.
If the defendant displayed gross negligence or intentional misconduct, you also might be eligible for punitive damages. Courts award punitive damages to punish the defendant and to deter others from acting in the same way. Punitive damages are rarely awarded, but you might be able to recover them if the defendant was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when the accident occurred or engaged in another activity that knowingly put you at risk.
What to Do After a Florida Boating Accident
If you or a loved one was involved in a Florida boating accident, you are required to stop immediately unless that places someone in danger. You must exchange information with all involved parties and seek assistance for anyone who may be injured.
If the accident resulted in someone’s disappearance or death; damage of more than $2000 to another boat or property or injuries that need treatment beyond first aid, you must report the accident immediately.
Reports can be made to the local sheriff’s office, the police department, or the law enforcement division within the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim?
The time in which you have to file an injury claim for a boating accident can depend on many factors. The location of the boating accident plays a key role in the laws that apply. While some accidents are governed by a four-year time limitation, in other instances, Admiralty law takes precedence and the claim may be required to be filed much sooner. If the accident happens on a cruise ship, different time limitations apply. If the boating accident results in a death, yet another time limitation will apply.
Because the time limitations for filing these types of claims can be quite complicated, it is crucial to contact a knowledgeable boat accident attorney in Florida right away to protect your rights. Call us at (561) 500-HELP today to begin.
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