For residents and tourists alike, ferry boats offer a pleasurable or convenient way to travel in Florida while enjoying the scenic views. Unfortunately, many passengers suffer serious or even fatal injuries because of negligent ferry boat operation each year. When this happens, it is critical that a victim consult a reliable boat accident attorney to ensure that their right to compensation is protected.
While you are recovering from your injuries and trying to navigate the disruption that the accident has caused in your life, the tenacious Florida ferry boat accident lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind P.A. can aggressively pursue the settlement or judgment that you deserve. Call us today at (866) 386-1762 to set up a free legal consultation on your ferry boat accident case.
Common Causes of Accidental Injuries and Death on Ferry Boats in Florida
Some of the most common ways that ferry boat accidents happen involve collisions with other vessels or objects, falling debris, capsizing, and malfunctioning or defective equipment. We have assisted victims who have suffered injuries ranging from broken bones and lacerations to more permanent injuries like amputations, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and even death.
Sometimes, the cause of an accident is absolutely unavoidable. Freak storms, true accidents, and other unavoidable issues can cause injuries. However, many accidents on ferries are avoidable if the ferry boat operators take proper care to make sure that the vessel is safe and properly maintained. This can prevent unsafe conditions like slippery decks or damaged walkways that could lead to passenger injuries. Making sure that all handrails and other equipment are safe and sturdy can also prevent injuries and loss of life from overboard accidents.
On ferries that carry passengers and cars, it is important to make sure that vehicles are properly secured. Failing to check that all cars are properly in “park” with the parking brake activated could mean that cars shift or move during the trip, which could lead to people being pinned between cars and seriously injured.
While some ferry boats need to operate rain or shine, some ferry services should be suspended because of storms and other safety hazards. Taking a ship out onto the water despite these risks could be a bad decision that the ferry boat operators should have avoided, and they can often be held liable for that decision if it causes injuries.
Suing Ferry Boat Operators for Injuries in Florida
If you were injured on a ferry boat, you may be eligible to receive compensation for medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering, as well as compensation for any reasonably anticipated future expenses associated with the accident and the injuries that you sustained. In the event that a ferry boat accident tragically claims someone’s life, Florida recognizes a claim for wrongful death, which allows surviving family members to bring a claim against the wrongdoer to recover funeral and burial expenses as well as other compensation for the loss of their loved one. Both in wrongful death suits and claims based on non-fatal injuries, the case must be filed within a strict time limit or else you might lose your opportunity to sue.
To win your injury or wrongful death case, there are a few elements you must prove in court. In general, you must show that the person or company that caused your injuries failed to use adequate care and skill at the time of the accident. This standard is unique to the facts of each case and subject to the jury’s interpretation, but the law typically requires ferry boat operators to carry proper licensure, to have adequate training to safely operate the vessel, to make sure that the vessel is properly maintained to ensure safety, and to ensure that the operator follows all applicable safety rules and boating operation laws.
Although there is no minimum age to operate a vessel in Florida, there are a number of requirements that apply to registering and operating a vessel. If the plaintiff can show that the defendant failed to comply with these regulations by operating a ferry boat while intoxicated or exceeding the state’s vessel speed restrictions, the plaintiff will probably be able to show that this conduct was negligent.
Florida law recognizes a vicarious liability theory called respondeat superior which allows a plaintiff to hold an employer liable for its employees’ careless acts. As long as the negligence took place within the course and scope of the employees’ job-related duties, you can usually sue the ferry boat company directly to seek compensation for the employee’s mistakes. A ferry boat accident attorney can help residents and other victims in Florida determine whether vicarious liability may apply in their case.
Once you show that the boat tour company or their employee acted negligently, you must also prove that this negligent conduct was what caused your injuries and that the injuries that you suffered were foreseeable. Florida has more boating accidents than any other state in the country, and there are virtually countless ways that someone can be injured as a result of negligence on a ferry boat. Many of these injuries will satisfy all of these elements, allowing you to sue the ferry boat company for damages.
Damages in a Ferry Boat Accident Lawsuit in Florida
If you file your case in Florida, you can typically claim damages for any injuries – physical or mental – that resulted from the defendant’s negligence. This typically means claiming compensation for medical expenses the accident caused, wages you lost because the injury was too severe to allow you to return to work, and pain and suffering. While some of these damages are economic damages that can be proved with medical bills, financial records, and pay stubs, damages for pain and suffering are noneconomic. This means that you must typically testify to explain to the jury how severe your pain and suffering was so that they understand how much to compensate you for.
If you lost a loved one in a ferry boat accident, the damages may be higher. Damages for funeral and burial expenses are typically available, as are other damages for the losses you and your family suffer because of the death of a loved one. This can include the cost of lost household services, lost companionship, lost spousal services, and other damages.
For help understanding what your case is worth, talk to a maritime injury lawyer. Ferry boat companies and their legal teams might offer settlements to try to end the case quickly, but these settlements may be too low to cover the full damages you are entitled to in your case. Talk to a lawyer before accepting any money, as it might qualify as a settlement and block you from taking your case to court.
Set Up a Free Case Consultation with Our Florida Ferry Boat Accident Attorneys
Few things are more painful and stressful than an unexpected accident that occurs through no fault of your own. At Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind P.A., we serve injured people and their families throughout Florida, providing them with reliable, experienced legal counsel in many types of watercraft accident cases. To schedule a free consultation with our Florida boat accident lawyers, call us at (866) 386-1762.