Water sports are popular in Florida due to the thousands of miles of coastline and seasonable weather. However, this also means that accidents stemming from water activities like sailing and jet skiing are common. At Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind P.A., we understand how daunting the process of bringing a water sports accident claim can seem. We will stand by you through every step of the legal process, from negotiating with insurance companies to gathering evidence to identifying witnesses for trial.
Water sports accidents can happen in a wide variety of contexts and can lead to a broad range of injuries. While some of these injuries are relatively minor and heal after a few weeks, others could be severe, resulting in permanent injuries or fatalities. It is critical that you speak to a Miami water sports injury lawyer as soon as possible for help with your claim. Call us today at (866) 386-1762.
Types of Water Sports Accidents in the Miami Area
Injuries can occur in many ways on the water. Boating accidents and accidents involving jet skis, WaveRunners, and Sea-Doos in Miami are surprisingly common, especially in heavy tourism seasons. Even accidents involving fishing can lead to serious injury. However, water sports injuries also commonly involve accidents while swimming or surfing.
Some waters in the Miami area are shared by swimmers, boaters, and riders on personal watercraft. This puts swimmers at risk from being hit by a boat or a jet ski. Riders who fall off of kayaks or jet skis could also end up being hit by a boat.
Surfing and swimming injuries are often pure accidents, but if a lifeguard failed to warn you about rip currents or failed to properly monitor the water for swimmers in distress, you could face more serious injuries that could have been avoided.
Common Injuries from Surfing, Jet Skiing, and Swimming in Miami Waters
If you were injured, the effects you face could vary depending on how the accident occurred. The following are merely some examples of common injuries and are by no means an exhaustive list. If you or a loved one suffered any of these injuries or another injury in a Miami water sports accident, call our lawyers to discuss your potential injury case.
Any time water is involved in physical activities, the risk of drowning is present. Swimmers and surfers could end up underwater, especially if they were not properly equipped with personal flotation vests or life preservers. Riders on speedboats and other vessels could also fall overboard and begin drowning. The effects of drowning injuries can involve brain injuries from a lack of oxygen as well as substantial pain from inhaling water or from improper chest compressions used to resuscitate the victim.
Head and Brain Injuries
When you are in the water, your head might be the only thing above water. If you fall out of a boat, you could end up hitting the side or bottom of the boat, or you could be hit by an oar or paddle from a kayak or canoe. If you suffer a head injury in the water, you could begin to drown and face additional complications. However, brain injuries could also occur, potentially leading to internal bleeding or long-term injuries.
Surfing and other physical activities near the coast often causes serious broken bone injuries. If you come off a wave badly and land on your arm, shoulder, leg, or other body part, you could suffer a broken bone that might require a cast and follow-up care. Serious broken bones might require surgery to set the bone or implants to hold the bone in place, especially for breaks that fracture the bone into more than two pieces.
Being hit by a jet ski or boat or falling onto your back while surfing or swimming could cause serious back injuries. These accidents could potentially cause permanent paralysis, but that is rare. Instead, these injuries might cause herniated discs, misalignment, and other back and spine injuries that could impinge on the nerves in your spinal cord. These kinds of back injuries can be extremely painful, and even with surgery and physical therapy, they might not heal in full. This could lead to high levels of ongoing pain and suffering.
Whom to Sue for a Water Sports Accident Injury in Miami
There are many ways in which a water sports accident can occur, but in most situations, an accident victim can bring a negligence claim against the person or business that they believe is responsible for their injuries. In a negligence claim, the plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care and skill and that this failure was the cause of the injuries that the plaintiff sustained.
When it comes to a boating accident, this standard requires boat operators to obtain appropriate licensing and training, to operate the watercraft safely in light of the weather conditions and other activity on the water, and to refrain from operating a boat while under the influence, among other things.
Florida acknowledges a doctrine called negligence per se, which strengthens a plaintiff’s negligence claim if they can show that the defendant violated a statute or regulation at the time of the accident. If the accident involved being hit by a ferry or another commercial vessel, it is especially important to review whether the defendant violated any applicable regulations and requirements. A water sports accident attorney in the Miami area will be familiar with the various rules that may apply.
If the accident involved jet skis or wave runners, kayaks, or other smaller vessels, the plaintiff may also have a claim against any rental facility that rented the equipment to the plaintiff. These facilities have a duty to ensure that they are leasing their equipment to individuals who have the appropriate skill and experience to operate them. They also must provide any required safety equipment, such as life jackets. Failing to do any of this could put them partly at fault for the injuries their renters cause.
Proving a Lawsuit Against a Negligent Boat or Vessel in a Miami, FL Water Sports Accident
After establishing that the defendant failed to use due care, you must then establish that there is a causal connection between this negligent conduct and the damages that you suffered. If the defendant can show that some other factor was the primary cause of your injuries, such as a severe storm or your own negligent conduct, you might be precluded from recovering damages. Alternatively, your damages may be reduced. One way to possibly help establish causation is to provide a copy of any police or lifeguard reports that were prepared after the accident.
In accident cases in Miami, victims can often recover damages even if they were partly at fault for the injuries they suffered. Florida’s comparative fault rules allow injury victims to recover compensation even if they were 99% at fault for their own injuries. The damages you are awarded in court will usually be reduced to account for your fault.
An example of this might be an injury case where a kayaker is hit by a speed boat. The driver of the speed boat might be primarily at fault, but the kayaker might have been in dangerous waters. If the jury says that the victim is 15% at fault, then the victim will only recover 85% of the damages the court awards them.
Damages in Water Sports Injury Claims in Miami
Once negligence and causation have been established, the plaintiff will be allowed to submit evidence showing the amount of damages that they suffered as a result of the accident. Damages for these kinds of accident cases often involve compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Injuries in the water can cause serious harm. If you suffered a head injury and were pushed underwater, you could have suffered serious brain trauma that might lead to permanent injuries, and drowning could have caused additional harm from hypoxia. If you needed emergency medical care, those costs should be covered. Additionally, the cost of ongoing medical care needs, physical therapy, medication, and even mental health counseling to deal with the effects of the accident could be claimed as medical expenses in a lawsuit.
If your injuries keep you from working, you could be entitled to claim damages for the lost wages you faced. These lost wages could have come from your recovery period while you were unable to work. Alternatively, lost wages could include wages you will miss going forward if you are still unable to work. Injury victims who face permanent injuries might be entitled to seek damages to cover the difference between their old wages and their new wages if their injuries forced them to take a lower-paying job. Alternatively, ongoing and future lost wages can also be claimed.
Pain and Suffering
The “cost” of pain and suffering cannot be easily determined. There is no fair way to put a price tag on an injury or disability. However, you should be compensated fairly if you have ongoing pain and discomfort or if your injury left you with mental anguish, emotional distress, reduced enjoyment of life, and other serious effects. These damages are known as “noneconomic” damages because they cannot be proved through medical bills and financial records, but your testimony can still help show what these damages should be worth in court.
Settling a Lawsuit for Injuries from Water Sports Accidents in Miami, FL
Many injury cases are ultimately settled instead of going to trial before a judge and jury. If you were hit by a boat or injured while using rental equipment, there will likely be a company to sue, or the at-fault party’s insurance might cover the accident. These companies usually work to settle claims at low values to save them money. This usually means that the initial offer to settle will be too low to cover your needs.
If you are given an offer to settle, do not accept it before talking to a personal injury attorney. Our Watersports and Miami boat accident lawyers can help you calculate potential damages in your case so that you can understand what your claim might be worth and reject any unfair settlement offers.
Speak with Our Experienced Miami Water Sports Accident Lawyers
If you have suffered a serious accident because of someone else’s careless behavior on the water, you might be entitled to compensation. At Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind P.A., we know how sudden and stressful this situation can be for a victim and their family. Our Miami water sports injury attorneys are prepared to help you assert your legal rights. To set up a free consultation, call us now at (866) 386-1762.