The Miami boating accident attorneys at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind P.A. have decades of experience helping victims sue the owners and operators of boats that injured them. Injured victims may be entitled to compensation regardless of whether they were a passenger on the vessel at the time or were on another boat that was struck. Many victims of boating accidents in Miami also include those injured in the water, such as swimmers and kayakers.
If you or a loved one was injured in a boating accident in the Miami area, contact our law offices today to set up a free legal consultation with our Miami boat accdent attorneys. Our lawyers have over 30 years of experience in maritime law, representing victims of boating and shipping accidents in and around the Miami area. We understand the intricacies of boat accident cases and can work to help you get the compensation you need after being injured in a serious Miami boat accident. Call us today at (866) 386-1762.
How Common Are Boating Accidents in Miami?
Florida is an ideal boating location with many waterways, rivers, and lakes, and a huge coastline. As a result, Florida is known to lead the nation in registered vessels with 915,713 vessels registered in 2015 alone. In addition, it has been estimated that 1 million non-registered boats actively use Florida’s waters. All the while, Miami’s population is growing, and more and more tourists find themselves in the area each year. This means that Miami’s waterways are showing increased congestion all the time as boaters continue enjoying our beautiful weather and our abundant water resources. However, with this increase in boaters comes an increased number of accidents, injuries, and deaths.
At the end of every year, boating accident statistics are compiled in annual reports by various state agencies. According to one such report, Florida has the highest number of boating accidents of any state yearly, many involving serious injuries and even deaths. According to a recent report compiled by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the state agency responsible for the enforcement of boating safety laws, there were 628 reported boating accidents and 59 fatal boating accidents in 2018.
This number is down from some of the previous 5 years, but it is still part of a trend of Florida having some of the most boating accident counts in the country. Generally speaking, the Miami area alone often has a higher number of accidents than the next highest state after Florida.
Clearly, many watercraft operators are unaware of how to safely maneuver their vessel and how to respond to emergency situations, which is a common cause of boating accidents and injuries. Boaters often do not realize that the same precautions used when driving a car should also be used when driving a boat, leading them to cause serious accidents.
Common Causes of Boating Accidents in Miami, FL
Boat accidents are caused by a number of potential issues. In most cases, boating injuries are caused by a pilot’s inattention or failure to look out for dangers they should have avoided. They are also primarily caused by boater inexperience, with fledgling pilots on new boats or rented boats causing these accidents. A significant number of boating accidents are also caused each year by intoxicated operation.
Drunk boating is a serious issue that can cause tragic accidents. On a pleasure boat or speed boat, a drunk operator could crash into another vessel, potentially injuring everyone on the other boat as well as their own passengers. In accidents where commercial boat operators show up to work drunk, they could also cause serious injuries. This is true of ferries, yachts crewed by hired staff, tour boats, and even commercial fishing boats.
Boat pilots and operators are required by law to follow various rules, but they are always required to use reasonable care and attention when operating a vessel. If they fail to do so, they may be considered “negligent,” and the errors and mistakes they commit can be used against them as evidence that they were at fault for the crash. There are laws against boating with a BAC over .08%, and other laws might dictate speed restrictions, no-wake zones, directions to travel in shipping lanes, waters to avoid on small vessels, and other laws intended to keep boaters, swimmers, and others safe. If a law was violated, injured passengers, victims who were injured in other boats or vessels, or swimmers and others outside of the boat may sue the at-fault operator for injuries.
Even if no actual boating law was violated, the pilot’s unsafe actions might have violated the unwritten rules of boating. There are plenty of commonly used safe-boating practices that help dictate what drivers should and should not do while operating a boat. Although there might not be specific laws to enforce some of these rules, they are nonetheless reasonable standards by which we can judge a boater’s safety. If you were injured because a boat operator made unreasonable mistakes or committed safety violations that do not specifically break the law, you can still use those issues as proof of their negligence and fault in causing the boat accident.
Injuries Caused by Boat Accidents in Miami
Many boating accidents can involve catastrophic injuries. Injuries to the head, neck, spine, and back can often cause permanent damage if you are thrown to the deck or fall into a bulkhead during a boat accident. These injuries are common in sudden crashes. A fire on a boat can quickly engulf small vessels and lead to severe burns, smoke inhalation, or even death for victims on board. Fires often mean that passengers and crew need to evacuate immediately, which often means going into the water or onto a life raft.
If you were in the water and were struck by a boat, you could suffer serious head injuries. Rescue boats responding to an accident could accidentally strike people in the water, causing serious injuries. Swimmers, surfers, and SCUBA divers are also at risk of getting hit by a boat and potentially knocked unconscious or injured by propellers from passing boats.
Any time a boating victim leaves the vessel during a boating accident, they are also at risk for drowning and other injuries in the water. Boat owners and operators should be sure to include proper emergency flotation devices and life jackets to keep passengers safe in the event of an emergency. These usually have bright colors to help rescuers spot victims, and the flotation helps keep weak swimmers from drowning. Many injuries occur because boats are not properly equipped with such emergency equipment.
Our Miami boating accident attorneys can help you seek compensation for any of these injuries and more. Many boat accident injuries require intensive medical care and long-term recovery plans. A lawsuit for injuries sustained in a Miami boating accident can often help you get compensation for medical bills, including medical transportation, surgeries, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and mental health counseling to deal with the effects of your injuries.
Many accidents unfortunately cause fatal injuries. Our Florida boat accident lawyers also represent the family of boat accident victims who were lost overboard or died during a fatal boating accident, and we work to get them compensation for the loss of a loved one.
Ways to Stay Safe While Boating in Miami Waters
Our attorneys also work to spread information about how to stay safe on a boat to help prevent injuries and accidents. We often recommend enrolling in local boating safety courses sponsored by the United States Coast Guard. If you have a child whom you are going to entrust with a boat, you should insist that they take a boating safety course. The fact that so many boating accidents involve inexperienced boaters shows that getting safety training and supervised experience can go a long way toward preventing boating accidents and injuries.
Our firm acts as safety advocates for boating accident victims harmed at sea, including those involved in boating accidents throughout the Miami area and nationwide. Successfully filing lawsuits on behalf of those injured in boating and maritime accidents not only helps them receive fair and just compensation but also helps improve safety for those who are thinking of boating in the future. If you or someone you love has been involved in a boating accident, contact our highly experienced boating accident lawyers to set up a free case consultation.
Filing a Lawsuit for Injuries or Death Caused by a Boat Crash in a Miami Court
As mentioned, boating accidents are often caused by a pilot’s inattention or lack of skill in controlling their boat. This is often labelled “negligence,” and it is the basis for most injury lawsuits involving accidents. Our Miami boating injury lawyers may be able to help you file a negligence lawsuit against the responsible parties and seek damages for the injuries you faced in a boating accident.
If you were hit by another boater or the pilot/operator on your vessel caused an accident, you might be entitled to compensation for any damages resulting from the accident. However, you must first prove that they were responsible for the accident by proving four elements of your case:
- The operator owed you a duty.
- The operator breached that duty.
- The breach of duty caused your injuries.
- The injuries involve damages the court can order compensation for.
Typically, the duty they owe you will be based on what a reasonable boat pilot should have done or based on the laws governing the accident. If you can prove that they violated this duty and that that violation caused your injuries, you can seek compensation for any harm you can prove in court.
Many boating injury cases go to court each year, and our Miami boat accident lawyers are prepared to work with you to fight your case at trial and get you compensation for your injuries. Despite this, most injury cases are instead settled before they ever get to a jury decision. However, you must be careful because many early offers to settle a case might involve offers that are far too low to cover your needs. Our Miami boat accident lawyers can help you understand the full value of your lawsuit and work to maximize the compensation you receive by negotiating proper settlements or fighting your case at trial.
To receive compensation for your injuries, you will also need to prove the damages you faced in court.
Damages in a Miami Boating Accident Lawsuit
The damages you can claim in a boat accident injury case often involve damages for medical expenses, lost wages resulting from the injury, and compensation for pain and suffering related to the injuries. If you lost a loved one in a boating accident, you may be entitled to additional damages for their death, including the cost of funeral and burial expenses, lost companionship, lost household services, and other harms.
When you claim damages, the court will need to see proof of the damages you faced. In most cases, you will have two types of damages, each of which requires different types of proof.
With “economic damages,” there are usually bills, financial statements, and other records that document how much the injury cost you economically and how much you should be reimbursed. “Economic damages” usually include compensation for expenses like medical bills and reimbursements for lost wages.
In many cases, economic damages will also include projected future damages. For instance, if you suffered a serious injury and are only partway through your treatment, you will be able to have doctors and financial experts testify as to how much the injury is expected to cost you in the future, and you might be able to get additional damages to cover those expenses, too. The same is true with lost earning capacity, where you might not be able to make as much money because of the physical restrictions your injury cased. For example, if you worked a job that involved physical labor, you might be limited after a serious back injury, so you will miss out on future wages because you need to take a different position – or perhaps you cannot go back to work at all and need coverage for your disability.
Noneconomic damages are paid to cover harms that you experienced, even if there is no record of expenses or tangible things you can show someone else to prove what the harm cost you. The most common type of noneconomic damages in an injury case is compensation for pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering are abstract concepts, not something you can show to someone else. However, you can describe what your pain was like, how the injuries caused you to suffer, and what tangible effects the pain and suffering had on your life. The court can listen to your testimony about your injuries, about how the injury caused you to feel depressed and hopeless, about how the injury reduced your enjoyment of activities, and about how you feared the possibility that you might not recover.
Determining the actual value of these damages is often more of an art than a science. Our Miami boat accident attorneys attorneys can use their experience in other cases to help determine what your injuries could be worth in a lawsuit and advise you on the overall damages you should be entitled to in your case.
Compensation for these damages is sometimes not available in an insurance claim, so you often need to claim these damages in court. Other non-economic damages could be paid to punish the at-fault boater. For example, if you were hit by a boater with a track record of drunk boating or a ferry service with repeat boating violations, the court might order the defendant to pay you additional damages to punish them for what they did. These “punitive damages” are not very common, but our attorneys will examine your case and fight for them when appropriate.
If You Were Hurt in a Boating Accident in Miami, Our Attorneys Can Help
Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind P.A. is a maritime and admiralty law firm with an international reputation for dedication and excellence. Our Miami boat accident and injury attorneys have experience helping victims recover compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages from boating accidents and other injuries on ships and vessels in the Miami area and across the globe. To schedule a free legal consultation after suffering injuries in a boating accident in the Miami area, contact our law offices today at (866) 386-1762.