Tampa Boat Accident Lawyer

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    Tampa Boat Accident Lawyer

    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.

    Boat Crashes

    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.

    Examples of Evidence Used to Determine Fault for a Tampa, FL Boat Accident

    In order to recover damages in a boat accident lawsuit, you will likely have to prove that your accident occurred because of another party’s negligence. There is an array of evidence that may be used to accomplish this task. For instance, any of the following may be utilized by our boat accident attorneys:

    Eyewitness Testimony

    Eyewitness accounts often play a pivotal role in determining fault in boating accidents. Your case may benefit from individuals who observed the incident providing detailed statements about what they saw. Their perspectives can offer valuable insights into the sequence of events and help establish a clear narrative.

    Photographic and Video Evidence

    Capturing the scene through photographs or videos can significantly strengthen your case. Visual documentation provides concrete evidence that can vividly depict the conditions, positions of vessels, and any contributing factors. These visuals serve as compelling tools for illustrating the dynamics of the accident and can be instrumental in establishing fault.

    Boat Maintenance Records

    In some cases, examining maintenance records of the involved vessels can be crucial. Poorly maintained boats may contribute to accidents, and thorough scrutiny of maintenance logs can reveal whether negligence or mechanical failure played a role. This type of evidence can be instrumental in establishing liability.

    Official Reports and Documentation

    Official reports from law enforcement, coast guard, or other relevant authorities can serve as authoritative evidence in your case. These reports often contain valuable information, such as weather conditions, traffic regulations, and any citations issued. Relying on these official documents can help build a comprehensive case supporting your claim.

    Expert Witness Testimony

    Engaging expert witnesses like marine accident reconstruction experts can be pivotal in establishing fault. These professionals possess specialized knowledge to analyze the circumstances leading to the accident. Their testimony can provide the court with a detailed understanding of the technical aspects, helping to establish a clear link between actions and consequences.

    Communications Records

    Examining communication records, such as radio transmissions or phone calls, can provide valuable insights into the interactions between vessels leading up to the accident. These records can reveal if there were any warnings, signals, or attempts to avoid the collision. Analyzing communication data contributes to a comprehensive understanding of the events that transpired.

    Weather and Navigation Data

    Incorporating weather and navigation data into your case can be essential for establishing the environmental conditions and adherence to navigational rules. Weather reports can offer information on visibility, wind speeds, and other relevant factors impacting vessel operation. Navigation data, including GPS records, can help verify the positions and movements of the boats involved, contributing to the determination of fault.

    Medical Records

    In the aftermath of a boating accident, obtaining and presenting medical records is crucial. These records can document injuries sustained by those involved, shedding light on the severity of the impact. Additionally, medical assessments can provide insights into how the accident occurred and support the correlation between the incident and resulting injuries.

    Insurance Documentation

    Reviewing insurance documents, including policies and claims, can be insightful in understanding the financial aspects of the accident. This type of evidence can reveal whether any party involved had a history of safety violations, previous accidents, or inadequate insurance coverage. Insurance documentation can contribute to establishing patterns of behavior that may point to fault.

    What if You Share Fault for a Boating Accident in Tampa, FL?

    There are situations where victims can share blame for their boating accidents. For instance, fault may be shared for a collision where a boater who was travelling on the wrong side of a channel was struck by another boater who was impaired.

    Thankfully, if your share fault for your boating accident in Florida, you may still be able to recover payment for the harm you sustained. However, the amount of compensation you are awarded may be limited.

    As of March 2023, Florida courts now abide by the doctrine of “modified comparative fault” when apportioning damages in boating accident cases. This means that damages are awarded based on parties’ percentages of blame. For instance, if you are 25% responsible for your boating accident while the other party is 75% to blame, then they will have to pay for 75% of your damages while you are left to account for the remaining 25%.

    Under Florida’s previous rule, you could recover payment for your boating accident injuries regardless of your percentage of blame. However, under the new rule, you will be restricted from filing a claim against another party if your share of fault exceeds 50%.

    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.

    Evaluating Settlement Offers in Tampa Boating Accident Lawsuits

    If you file a lawsuit after suffering a boating accident, the defendant will probably attempt to settle your claim before going to trial. When you enter into a settlement agreement, you will receive an agreed-upon amount of damages in exchange for the voluntary dismissal of your case. There are possible advantages to settling before trial. For example, by settling early, you may acquire payment sooner and save on certain costs that would be incurred during the trial process.

    However, defendants in boating accident lawsuits regularly attempt to settle their claims for less than they are worth. Our legal team can help evaluate any settlement offers presented in your case. That way, you can confidently decide whether going to trial or settling early is best for you.

    Common Areas Where Boating Accidents Occur in Tampa, FL

    Boating accidents can occur nearly anywhere where vessels can be taken. Still, there are certain places where such accidents happen more frequently. Being aware of these potentially dangerous areas can help you stay safe while out on the water.

    Open Waters and Intersections

    Boating accidents frequently occur in open waters, where vessels may navigate in close proximity. This is particularly true in areas with heavy boat traffic, where collisions can happen because of misjudgments, failure to yield, or inadequate awareness of other vessels. Intersections of waterways, akin to road intersections, are common areas where boats may cross paths, increasing the risk of accidents.

    Marinas and Docks

    Boating mishaps are not uncommon in marinas and near docks. The confined spaces, combined with various vessels maneuvering in and out, can lead to collisions, grounding, or contact with structures. Issues such as improper docking procedures, lack of signage, or congested conditions contribute to the elevated risk of accidents in these areas.

    Narrow Channels and Tight Waterways

    Navigating through narrow channels or tight waterways poses a considerable challenge, and accidents frequently transpire in such confined spaces. Vessels may have limited room to maneuver, increasing the likelihood of collisions, especially when operators fail to adhere to navigation rules or exercise caution in these challenging conditions.

    Recreational Areas and Popular Destinations

    Boating accidents often occur in recreational areas and popular destinations where numerous vessels gather. Crowded waters can lead to congested traffic, making it imperative for operators to exercise heightened vigilance. Factors such as speeding, reckless maneuvers, or failure to follow navigational guidelines in these areas can contribute to accidents.

    Crossing Currents and Tidal Zones

    Crossing currents and tidal zones introduce additional complexities to boating navigation. Accidents may transpire because of unexpected changes in water flow, currents, or tides. Operators must be aware of these dynamic conditions and adjust their navigation accordingly to prevent collisions or other mishaps.

    Blind Spots and Restricted Visibility Areas

    Boating accidents often occur in areas with limited visibility, such as blind spots created by the vessel’s design or natural features like bends in the waterway. Collisions can happen when operators fail to account for these blind spots or neglect to use proper lookout procedures, emphasizing the importance of heightened awareness in areas with restricted visibility.

    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.

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