How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit After a Boat Accident in Florida?

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Thousands of miles of navigable waterways and beautiful year-round weather make Florida a destination spot for people who love boating and water-based activities. Additionally, Florida is a hub of the cruise industry, with many vacationers beginning and ending their Caribbean excursions from local ports. Add in the many residents who also own and operate boats and you are looking at some of the busiest waterways in the country. Unfortunately, the amount of traffic and activity results in serious and sometimes deadly accidents. If you were injured in a boating accident and wish to file a lawsuit, you have to adhere to a deadline. However, when an accident occurs on a boat, it is not as simple as a typical personal injury lawsuit or land accident. Below, our experienced Florida boat accident attorney from Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. reviews when you must file a lawsuit arising from a boating accident.

Where Your Florida Boating Accident Happened Impacts When You Have to File a Lawsuit

The first thing to understand is that Florida has a statute of limitations that governs when you must file a personal injury claim arising from the negligent or intentional conduct of another person or company. However, unlike a car accident or other incident, where a boating accident occurs will determine when you must file a lawsuit. It is essential to speak with an experienced Miami maritime attorney to determine how much time you have to file a lawsuit.

Boating Accidents that Occur Within Florida’s Borders

Florida state law will apply to court cases that result from boat accidents that happen within the state’s borders. State waters are usually defined as sharing no border with another state, such as a lake. If your injuries were the result of an accident that occurred on Florida waters, you have four years to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Boating Accidents that Happen On Shared Waterways

Many private maritime and nautical disputes are governed by federal admiralty law. Admiralty law is comprised of both domestic and international regulations and governs many disputes between private individuals and companies that operate ships and boats in the Florida area.

Admiralty law will apply when an accident occurs in a waterway that shares its boundaries with about state, including many rivers, bays, lakes, and the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, which is shared by many states. The statute of limitations in federal lawsuits is less than the state statute allowing a plaintiff only three years to file the case.

Cruise Ship Accidents

Cruise ship injuries are very different. If you were hurt aboard a cruise ship, then the statute of limitations is usually one year, and in some situations, it could be as short as six months. Additionally, when you travel aboard a cruise ship, you agree to a contract when you purchased your ticket that could contain further restrictions. It is vital to talk with our cruise ship accident attorney to ensure you understand your rights and the deadlines you are facing.

Wrongful Deaths Arising from a Boating Accident

In some situations, a boating accident results in fatal injuries or drowning. These types of claims, known as wrongful death claims, are separate from ordinary personal injury lawsuits and are governed by a different law. In Florida, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years from the date of the death and, under certain circumstances, it could be only eighteen months.

Do Not Wait to File a Lawsuit After a Boating Accident

If you were hurt in a Florida boating accident caused by the negligent or intentional behavior of another party, you have the right to seek monetary compensation for your injuries. As stated above, the time you have to file a lawsuit will depend heavily upon the accident’s circumstances and the governing law. No matter how or where your injury occurred, contacting our experienced Florida maritime attorney is one of the first things you should do.

Prevailing in a personal injury lawsuit depends on proving another party caused your injury. The way to prove negligence in a court of law is through evidence, including physical evidence, photographs, accident reports, medical records, and witness testimony. Much of the best available evidence is gathered as soon or shortly after an accident occurs. Waiting months or years usually means that vital evidence is lost, witnesses cannot be located, or their memories are faded and inconsistent. In any personal injury lawsuit, it is advisable to begin building your case as soon as possible.

The added problem in boating accidents is knowing what statute of limitation applies. Without understanding how your accident’s circumstances affect the applicable law, you could easily miss an important deadline. Statutes of limitations are not suggested guidelines. If you attempt to file a lawsuit after the deadline has passed, a court will quickly dismiss your case.

Call Our Florida Boat Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation

Florida is one of the premier destination places for people seeking fun and relaxation on the water. Furthermore, many Florida residents often take full advantage of the thousands of miles of beautiful waterways. If you are injured while boating or on a cruise, you need to understand your legal rights. In addition to figuring out who should be held accountable, you have a specific deadline based on how and where your injury occurred. Our seasoned Miami boat accident attorney is dedicated to providing professional representation to those injured while engaged in maritime activities. If you or a loved one was hurt in a boating accident, call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. at (305) 204-5369 to schedule a free consultation and review any legal deadlines.


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Brett Rivkind is a lawyer that not only cares but also a lawyer that makes a difference. Whether its speaking in congress to help promote safety awareness in legislation or representing clients in court seeking compensation for their injuries, Brett Rivkind is passionate about his dedication toward both promoting safety at sea and helping clients in need who have been harmed at sea.

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