Boat accidents in Tampa Bay and other waters in the Tampa, Florida area can cause serious injury and death to victims. Hundreds are killed each year in boating accidents in Florida, and the Tampa area also sees many other non-fatal boating accidents that cause serious or even permanent injuries.
Fortunately, victims can often recover sufficient compensation for their injuries when they file a lawsuit against a negligent party. This should be done as soon as possible so that victims adhere to the statute of limitations and increase their chances of recovery. Whether you were hurt on a recreational boat or cruise ship, you typically have the right to pursue compensation. The evidence used in boat accident claims may vary, based on the specific circumstances of each case. If you sue instead of filing an insurance claim, you might be able to recover greater damages, including compensation for pain and suffering.
To get help with your case from our Tampa boat accident lawyers, call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. today at (305) 204-5369.
Suing for a Boating Accident in Tampa, FL
If you were involved in a boating accident in navigable waters – which includes most of the waters around Tampa – then you might have the right to sue under maritime law. U.S. maritime law governs ships and boats throughout the country, and our maritime injury lawyers are experienced in helping victims get compensation through the courts.
In many cases, there might be an insurance policy that covers the boat accident in question. However, you should always be careful when dealing with insurance companies. These companies’ policies often exclude payment for some types of damages, such as compensation for a victim’s pain and suffering. They will also usually cut off financial damages at a certain percentage of their full value for first-party claims, and they might not pay in full for third-party claims by victims, either.
Instead, you might be able to get higher damages by filing a lawsuit in court. When you take your case to court, you can sue for any damages the at-fault boater caused you. That can include payment for the physical damage to your boat, jet ski, or other vessel. More importantly in the case of injuries, it can also mean claiming full compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Types of Boating Accidents in Tampa, FL
There are many ways that boat accidents might happen – and there are many kinds of accidents that can happen aboard a ship as well. Our Florida boat accident attorneys represent victims in all of the following kinds of boating accident cases, such as boat crashes, single-vessel accidents, cruise ship accidents, assaults on cruise ships, and other incidents.
Accidents between two or more boats or ships are the most common type of boating accident that people might think of. These cases can often be resolved by determining which boat operator was at fault for the crash, and then every passenger and injured crewmember would be able to claim compensation from them or the company they were working for when the crash happened. If the operator was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the crash took place, they can likely be held liable for the drunk boating accident in Tampa.
Single-Vessel Crashes and Accidents
In some cases, there is only one boat involved in a crash into a dock, pier, rock, or other object in the water. Many of these crashes are caused by pilot or captain error, and the injured passengers aboard the ship can usually sue the pilot or captain for injuries. If a boat sinks or suffers damage without a crash, you can also sue if the captain took the boat into bad weather, ran aground, failed to repair mechanical failures, or did something else dangerous.
Accidents on Ships
Many accidents also happen aboard boats and cruise ships. Slip and falls from dangerous decks, broken railings, and other dangerous conditions on the ship can also be grounds for a lawsuit. Similarly, falls overboard can also lead to lawsuits, especially if the victim drowns or goes missing. In cases where the victim does not survive the accident or was lost at sea, their family can often sue on for wrongful death. These types of accidents often occur on cruise ships.
Assault and Sexual Assault on Ships
Additionally, many injuries on boats and ships are caused by intentional acts rather than accidents. Assault and sexual assault are unfortunately common among staff and crew, and these experiences can often result in lawsuits against the individual who attacked you as well as the ship’s operators who failed to provide adequate security aboard the vessel. Again, sexual assaults most commonly occur on cruise ships.
Sailor and Crewmember Injuries
Injuries to sailors, barge workers, seamen, and crewmembers can also lead to lawsuits, even if the accident dealt more with a victim’s job duties than the fact that they were on a boat when the accident happened. You will have to prove that your employer was at fault for your injuries in order to get compensation from them, or you can sue another at-fault individual or entity for compensation in Tampa.
Deadline to File a Boat Accident Claim in Tampa, FL
Those injured in boat accidents in waters near Tampa will likely have two years to sue for compensation. Things might change for individuals hurt on cruise ships.
There is a strict statute of limitations for boat accident lawsuits in Tampa. If you do not file within the two-year timeframe, you will be unable to seek compensation against a negligent party.
Cruise ships sometimes include stipulations within tickets requiring passengers to file an injury claim in a specific jurisdiction. So, even if you were hurt off the coast of Tampa, you might have to file your claim in another state altogether. Because of this, you could be beholden to another filing deadline. Our lawyers will assess your cruise ship ticket to confirm the correct jurisdiction to file your case in and do so within the appropriate statute of limitations. Depending on the location of your accident, you might have to file your case in federal court if it falls under U.S. maritime law.
Evidence in a Tampa, FL Boat Accident Claim
Because boat accidents can vary substantially, the evidence used in each case might also differ. We will investigate your accident, whatever the circumstances, to ensure you can access sufficient evidence to prove a negligent party’s fault for your injuries.
While security camera footage might not be available in recreational boating accident cases, it might be available in injury claims involving a cruise ship. If need be, our lawyers will subpoena such footage to use in support of your case.
Generally, eyewitness statements are available, regardless of the specifics of a boat accident. Eyewitnesses can corroborate your telling of events and reinforce the fact that a negligent party caused your injuries.
There might also be physical evidence at the scene that you can use in your case. For this reason, it is important that you report your accident to the police immediately after it occurs. Boat accidents in Tampa must also be reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Other evidence, such as a victim’s medical records and photographs taken at the scene, can be used in a boat accident case as well. Our lawyers might also enlist help from experts who can apply their experience and knowledge to a case to further illuminate certain aspects that require additional explanation or context.
Elements of a Boat Accident Case in Tampa, FL
There are four elements that must be proven in order for victims to recover compensation in a boat accident claim in Florida. Our attorneys will aim to establish these four elements so that you can hold a negligent party responsible.
The first element that must be proven is that the defendant owed you a duty of care. This varies from case to case as there might be many instances where a victim could be hurt on a boat because of another person’s negligence. So, the relationship between the at-fault party and the victim could differ. For example, if you were on a cruise ship when injured, whether due to an accident or a crew member’s intentionally malicious act, the cruise ship would have had a duty of care to prevent such events to the best of its ability by having security measures in place or otherwise ensuring the safety of its passengers. If that duty was not met, the second element, a breach of the owed duty of care, might occur, causing injury to a victim. This applies to individuals who might be driving a recreational boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Our attorneys can apply this logic to your case as necessary.
As previously mentioned, the second element is a breach of the defendant’s owed duty of care to the plaintiff. This is the negligent act that caused your injuries. Again, this varies across cases and depends on the specific acts of the person responsible for causing you injury in Tampa.
The third element is causation. Our boat accident lawyers will be tasked with proving that the defendant’s negligent act directly caused your injuries. This is best done by presenting medical evidence of your physical injuries caused in a boat accident.
Finally, we must prove that you incurred real damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. These are your monetary losses, which we can establish by presenting proof of your financial damages.
Damages Available in Boating Accident Lawsuits in Tampa, FL
As mentioned, while an insurance company may fail to pay full damages for your injuries, a lawsuit can cover damages to your boat as well as compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The medical bills covered in a boating accident case can include the increased medical expenses necessary to transport you to shore for treatment as well as the ongoing costs of rehabilitation, physical therapy, counseling, and more. Lost wages can potentially cover past damages you missed during your recovery as well as future lost wages if you cannot go back to work for some time. Pain and suffering damages can broadly compensate you for the negative aspects of an injury that do not have a clear record of cost or monetary damage, such as physical pain, mental anguish, and emotional distress.
In order to recover the damages available in your claim, you must prove that you have incurred them. This requires evidence, such as records of your medical expenses and loss of income. To prove that you have incurred non-economic damages as a result of a boat accident, our attorneys might request that you see a mental health professional who can provide testimony in support of your claim for compensation.
Punitive damages are rarely available but could be recoverable in cases involving cruise ships if gross negligence was involved.
Call Our Tampa, Florida Boating Accident and Maritime Injury Attorneys Today
To have the boat accident lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. assess your case for free, call us now at (305) 204-5369.