Boat tours and excursions are common activities in Clearwater, Florida. However, whether you are a tourist or a resident of Clearwater, you may not be fully apprised of the risks associated with taking a trip on a boat.
After a boat accident, you should call the proper authorities for help or use signals and flares on your boat to attract the attention of the coast guard. Boat accidents can happen almost anywhere there is water. Many accidents involve other boats, but some involve stationary objects in the water. Depending on who is liable for the crash, you can file an insurance claim, although you are not required to carry insurance yourself. Our team can also help you file a lawsuit. We can gather the evidence you need to prove the defendant’s negligence caused the accident.
You can seek a lawsuit if you were injured on a boat by calling our Clearwater boat accident lawyer. At Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A., our legal team has consistently handled and succeeded in getting our clients compensation for boat accidents. Call us at (866) 386-1762 for a free case review.
Who to Call After a Boat Accident in Clearwater
If you are in a boat accident in Clearwater, it is important to familiarize yourself with the authorities you should call for help. A boating accident is not like a car accident. While you can certainly call 911 after a boat accident, there are certain authorities and agencies that should also be contacted. Once back on dry land, you can contact our Clearwater boat accident lawyers about how to get compensation for your considerable damages from the accident.
First, you can call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement. You can also call the sheriff’s office of the county where your accident happened or the local police department. Any of these agencies can provide emergency assistance to boaters in distress after an accident.
You can also contact the coast guard if your accident happened in the ocean rather than a lake or bay. The coast guard usually always has emergency responders on duty and can quickly come to your aid after a collision. If you do not have the contact information for the coast guard or the other agencies previously mentioned, you can use signals to attract attention and get help.
There are various signals that you can use to get help. Certain signals might be required on board the vessel depending on the size of your boat and the time of day. For example, you can use smoke signals during the day to draw attention and get help. At night, you should use electric light signals to get help.
How Boat Accidents Can Happen in Clearwater
A boat accident can happen anywhere there is water. The nature of your boat accident is heavily influenced by its location. Additionally, the location of your accident affects the extent of your damages. You can speak to our Clearwater boat accident attorneys about how and where your accident happened to get an idea of who should be held liable and the evidence you need.
Docks and marinas are surprisingly common locations of boat accidents. While we often think f boating accidents as occurring out on the water, they also commonly occur before a boat leaves a marina. One common example of a boat accident in a marina is a collision with another boat either docking or trying to depart. Although these collisions are not often at high rates of speed, they can still be very dangerous. Other times, boaters might enter or exit a marina too quickly, sending heavy wakes rippling through the docks, causing other boats to slam into each other or the dock.
Collisions with stationary objects are also somewhat common. A boat might collide with a dock or buoy and cause serious damage. In other cases, the object is submerged and cannot be seen from the surface. Boaters do not realize they are heading straight for a large underwater rock until it scrapes against the bottom of their boat.
Collisions with other boats are also possible, especially during the peak of Florida’s tourist season when boaters from all over flock to the water. A negligent boat operator might strike your vessel because they are not paying attention or do not know how to operate a boat properly.
How Boat Insurance Affects a Boat Accident Case in Clearwater
After a car accident, one of the first things people think about is filing an insurance claim. Although boat accidents might appear similar to car accidents, insurance treats them very differently. Perhaps the biggest difference is that, unlike car insurance, boat insurance is completely optional in Florida. Owners and operators of boats are not legally required to carry boat insurance.
If insurance does play a role in your case, you can file a third-party claim against the other boat operator’s insurance. This requires coming up with proof that the other boat operator is at fault for the collision. Insurance is more likely to play a role if your boat or the other person’s boat was rented or chartered, as boat rental businesses must have some insurance.
You can still file a claim against the other person’s insurance or a lawsuit if you do not have insurance. Our Clearwater boat accident attorneys can help you assess your damages and begin filing your case to get you the compensation you need.
Parties Liable for a Clearwater boat Accident
Boating trips can be a lot of fun, whether it is your first time or whether it is one of your favorite hobbies. However, there is still a chance that a passenger on a vessel may be injured because of negligence or because a safety protocol was not enforced. Consequently, the victim should be concerned about the parties that may be liable for the boat accident, as there could be one or multiple liable parties depending on the facts.
If you intend to sue after your boat accident, the boat’s owner could be named as a defendant in your case. The boat owner should always be sure to take steps to ensure that passengers on their vessel are safe. For example, if maintenance was not performed on the boat after months of use, there is a risk it could malfunction. If the boat owner’s negligence led to the accident, they could be sued to claim damages.
In some cases, a company may be responsible for a boat accident. When taking a boat tour offered by a company, a person expects that the crew working on behalf of the company will exercise caution. However, there are many ways that the crew could cause an injury to a passenger. For instance, passengers could trip or fall from the boat if the captain exceeds the posted speed limits.
Note that while you could consider filing a lawsuit against the negligent crew members, it may be prudent to pursue the company that employs them. The employer would be better equipped to pay damages if you are successful in your case, especially if you have incurred thousands of dollars in medical bills and other expenses.
There is also the possibility that another passenger caused a boat accident. For instance, if alcohol was served on the boat and the actions of a drunken passenger caused you to fall from the boat, you may have a case against that person.
Call our Clearwater boat accident lawyers for guidance on beginning your personal injury claim.
Proving Negligence in Your Clearwater Boat Accident Case
Once you know the parties liable for your injuries, you will need to prove how they behaved negligently. Depending on how the accident occurred, several pieces of evidence could be used for your case. For example, if you have evidence that a crew member was intoxicated when the accident happened, this may be used to prove your case.
Witness testimony is also a vital tool for proving negligence. If another guest could verify that the accident happened due to the actions of the boat owner, you will want to present this evidence to the court. Our Clearwater boat accident lawyers are here to assist you in gathering evidence to prove that you should be compensated for your injuries.
Note that there are multiple elements of negligence and that you will need a solid amount of evidence to prove the following:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care (e.g., avoid steering the boat while drunk)
- The defendant was not able to uphold the duty of care
- You sustained losses, injuries, or both due to the behavior of the defendant
After proving these elements, you could be awarded damages for all injuries and losses you suffered because of the accident. For example, if you suffered a bone fracture due to a slip and fall accident on a boat, you could request compensation for your medical expenses. You may also be given damages for the following:
- Loss of wages and future loss of wages
- Property damage
- Loss of consortium
This is not a complete list. There could be several other damages that may be awarded when analyzing the facts of your case. It is vital to speak with a Clearwater boat accident lawyer to determine the damages you could receive in your personal injury case. Let our firm fight for you.
Possible Evidence in a Clearwater Boat Accident Lawsuit
Whether you are filing an insurance claim, lawsuit, or both, strong evidence of your boat accident is crucial. Gathering evidence from a boat accident is often difficult, especially if the boat sank or evidence was otherwise lost in the water. Our Clearwater boat accident lawyers can help you determine what evidence is available and how to get it.
Physical evidence is important as it might enlighten the court regarding how the crash happened. For example, if your motor malfunctioned and caused the accident, we need the motor as evidence. Other physical evidence might be lost in the water, so it is important to take photos and record videos of the accident quickly. Damage to your vessel can help prove how a collision or crash happened, even if we only have photos of the damage before the boat was lost in the water.
Witness testimony is very important, particularly when physical evidence is lacking. Passengers on your boat, the defendant’s boat, or other boats in the area can testify about the crash. Perhaps witnesses on the defendant’s boat saw the defendant drinking before the crash. In that case, we can have them testify about what they saw.
Medical records are necessary to prove the extent and severity of any injuries you or other passengers on the boat might have experienced. Boats do not come with seat belts, and people are often violently thrown about in a crash. Sometimes, people go overboard and suffer near-drowning injuries, such as brain injuries from a lack of oxygen.
Meet with a Clearwater Boat Accident Lawyer Today
A boat accident might change your life in more ways than one, which is why you should meet with our Clearwater boat accident lawyers. Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A., wants to give you qualified legal representation to increase your chance of recovering damages after a boat crash. Call (866) 386-1762 for a free legal consultation today.