Boat accidents are far more dangerous than people tend to think. Many people associate boating with a fun day on the water with a drink in their hand. However, boating can be just as dangerous as a motor vehicle accident.
After a boating accident, you should immediately call for help. With a lawyer’s help, you can sue the boat owner, crew, or anyone who might be liable. It is also important to consider how your own actions might have influenced the accident, as this might limit your damages. While insurance can be helpful, it is not legally required, and many victims are uninsured. While boating accidents happen on the water, they can also happen at docks and marinas. After a boat accident, you should speak to a lawyer to discuss filing a lawsuit as soon as possible.
You should speak to a qualified attorney about your accident. Our legal team can help you figure out who you should sue and how to calculate your damages. To set up a free and confidential case evaluation with our team, call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. at (866) 386-1762.
Where Can I Dock a Boat in Jacksonville, FL?
There are numerous locations around Jacksonville where people can dock their boats. Some are privately owned, while others might be available to the public. Depending on how your boat accident happened, the dock owner might be liable for your injuries.
Many people dock their boats in marinas. Marinas are often privately owned and available only to people who pay for access. People can usually pay a monthly fee for access to a Marina and a boat slip for the boat. Marinas may also have boat ramps where people can launch their boats into the water. Some marinas only allow paying members to access the docks and boat ramps. Other Marinas might allow the public to launch their boats from the ramp, but only allow paying members to dock in a slip.
You should review how your accident happened with our Jacksonville, FL boat accident attorneys. It is possible that the owner of the marina, boat slip, or boat ramp may be responsible. This is usually the case when accidents are caused by poor dock or ramp conditions that are the owner’s legal responsibility.
For example, suppose someone was docking their boat when some rotted boards in the dock gave way on the dock. The person who was injured from the fall can sue the dock owner for damages because the dock owner is responsible for making sure the dock is safe for customers.
Where Can Boating Accidents Occur in Jacksonville, FL?
Boating accidents happen anywhere there is water. While many accidents happen on the water, other accidents happen while the boat is still docked in a marina. Accidents may occur because of dangerous conditions on the water or risky boat conditions. Speak to our Jacksonville, FL boat accident lawyers about where and how your accident occurred to get your case started.
People sometimes overlook accidents at docks and marinas, but these are common locations of dangerous boat accidents. Docks must be in safe conditions for boaters. Poorly constructed docks or docks in disrepair are breeding grounds for boat accidents. A slip and fall on a dock can quickly become a drowning incident if the victim falls off the dock into the water.
Many other accidents happen after the boat leaves the dock. Accidents on the water can be especially dangerous because it can be difficult for help to reach a boat at sea. Accidents might come from dangerous weather conditions or rough water. Accidents can also come from boat conditions. For example, a boat with a faulty motor might leave boaters stranded on the water with no way back to shore.
If you rented or chartered a boat that turned out to be defective or unsafe, the boat owner or the company that rented you the boat can be held liable in many cases.
What to Do Immediately After a Boat Accident in Jacksonville
If you are involved in a boat accident in Jacksonville, the very first thing you should do is make sure everyone is okay and attempt to get to safety. You or your passengers might be injured, and your boat might sink, depending upon the nature of the accident. You should immediately call emergency services, such as the coast guard, for help.
Once you are in a safer position and emergency services are either on the scene or on their way, you should exchange information with the other boat operator. In Florida, you are legally required to remain at the boat accident scene and exchange information. Fleeing the scene could result in serious criminal penalties.
Exchanging information will provide you with the personal information of the other boat operator, like their name, address, contact information, and insurance information. Insurance will be necessary to cover the costs of medical expenses and boat repairs. If they have no insurance, your case may become more complicated, as detailed below. Our Jacksonville boat accident lawyers can offer more guidance on what steps to take following a boat accident.
Who You Can Sue for a Boat Accident in Jacksonville, FL
Liability for your boat accident might lie with several different people. Our Jacksonville, FL boat accident lawyers can help you determine who you should sue for compensation. Before beginning your lawsuit, you should consider where the accident occurred and who owned the property or the boat.
You might be able to sue the owner of the boat or the owner of the dock or marina where your boat accident happened. The dock or marina owner might be liable based on a theory of premises liability.
If you rented or chartered the boat in which your accident occurred, the boat owner might be liable if they knew or should have known that the boat was unsafe. You might also be able to sue the operator of the boat if you hired someone to drive the boat. For example, if the boat operator’s incompetence or negligence caused a collision, the operator can be held liable. If a larger company employs the boat operator, you can also sue the boat operator’s employer.
Crew members of the boat can also be held responsible for their contributions to a boat accident. It is typical for a professional crew to be hired to take care of the boat and passengers on larger vessels. The negligence of crew members should not go unnoticed, and they can be held liable in addition to other people like boat owners or captains.
If you are struck by another boat while out on the water, you can sue the owner and operator of that boat. Boats must follow strict rules and laws just like drivers on a highway. When these laws are broken, accidents and crashes can happen. Negligent boat operators should be sued and held accountable.
Comparative Negligence in Jacksonville, FL Boating Accidents
Proving negligence means proving that the other boat operator owed a duty to drive their boat responsibly, and they violated that duty by behaving carelessly. It also means proving that their bad behavior caused your damages. Proving negligence can become very tricky when defendants argue that plaintiffs should share some of the blame.
The State of Florida and U.S. Maritime Law each follow a rule of pure comparative negligence. The idea of comparative negligence is that when a plaintiff is partially responsible for their own injuries, their total damages should be reduced. These pure comparative negligence rules mean that no matter how responsible you are for the accident, you can still recover damages as long as you were not 100% responsible. For example, even if the court finds you to be 90% at fault, you can still recover 10% of your total damages from the other at-fault party.
While partial responsibility will not totally bar you from recovery, we should aim to prove you were 0% negligent. This will allow you to recover as much as you can in damages. Call our Jacksonville boat accident lawyers for more information about negligence.
Damages That Can be Compensated After a Boating Accident in Jacksonville, FL
The term “damages” is a legal term used to describe the costs associated with your physical injuries, property damage, and any other losses you may have incurred. Damages can come from several different sources after a boat accident in Jacksonville.
First, we should look at any bodily harm you suffered and the costs of medical treatment. Treatment could be relatively minimal and consist of only a few visits to a doctor. It could also be very extensive and last for a longer period or even indefinitely, depending on the extent of your injuries. Damages can include medical expenses you have already paid in addition to estimated costs of future medical treatments.
We also must look at the property damage you may have suffered in the boat accident. This will primarily consist of damage to your boat but can also include the loss of personal belongings on board the vessel. Property damage can be the cost of repairs necessary to fix your boat or the total cost of a replacement if your boat is totaled or sank beneath the water.
Other damages you can claim will vary depending on what kind of case you have. For example, if you are suing because a loved one died in a boat accident, you would have a wrongful death case on your hands. In that case, you may claim more intangible losses, like pain and suffering or loss of companionship. Talk to our Jacksonville boat accident lawyers to determine what damages you can claim.
Is Boat Insurance Required in Jacksonville, FL
In Florida, boat insurance is not legally required. This might be a surprise considering insurance is legally required for other forms of transportation, like motor vehicles on the highway. While you should have boat insurance to cover you in the event of an accident, the defendant in your boat accident lawsuit might not have any insurance. If that is the case, you may have trouble getting compensation because an individual defendant might not be able to cover the costs of your damages out of their own pocket.
Without insurance, we would need to go after the defendant’s personal assets for compensation. Personal assets include things like bank accounts and property that could be used to pay for damages. If the defendant has no personal assets, we might be out of luck. Speak with our Jacksonville boat accident lawyers to learn about your legal options if your defendant is uninsured.
When to Contact a Boat Accident Lawyer in Jacksonville, FL
Deciding to sue is a significant undertaking, and the decision should not be made without speaking to a lawyer first. If you are thinking about suing for a boat accident, our Jacksonville, FL boat accident attorneys can apprise you of your legal options and discuss options for compensation.
You should contact an attorney about your accident if you suffered any bodily injuries. You or someone close to you might have experienced painful injuries and expensive medical bills because of a boat accident. In some cases, injuries are so severe that victims are left disabled or permanently injured. A lawyer can help you get medical expenses covered by the defendant.
If you owned the boat involved in the accident, you might be dealing with expensive repair bills or the cost of replacing your boat. The person responsible for the accident should have to pay for your damages. An attorney can help you get compensation and deal with insurance companies regarding claims for your damaged boat.
You should immediately contact a lawyer if you lost a loved one in a boat accident. Wrongful death cases are extremely serious, and families of boat accident victims deserve compensation and closure. A lawyer can help you figure out what kind of damages are available in your case and how to claim them.
The sooner you contact a lawyer about your case, the better. According to Florida Statute § 95.11(3)(a), actions founded on negligence must be brought within 4 years. If the deadline passes, you might be unable to file your lawsuit at all.
Call Our Jacksonville Boat Accident Attorney for a Consultation
If you were involved in a boat accident and wish to be compensated for your injuries and losses, please get in touch with our Jacksonville boat accident attorneys. To set up a free case review, call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. at (866) 386-1762.