Who is Liable in a Boating Accident in Florida?

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Florida is famous for its weather, long beaches, and thousands of miles of waterways. It is a perfect destination for those who love to be on the water. Likewise, residents of the state often take advantage of the pleasures associated with boating. Unfortunately, boating accidents occur. In some cases, these accidents leave people with devastating and life-altering injuries. Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. is committing to holding liable parties accountable for the harm they cause. However, who is responsible for a boating accident depends on what happened. Below, our Florida boat accident attorney examines who should be held liable for your injuries.

Determining Responsibility for a Boat Accident

Boating accidents in Florida occur for a wide variety of reasons. To determine who should be held liable for any injuries that resulted from the accident, our Miami canal boat accident attorney will have to piece together exactly what happened.

Just like a car accident, to hold another party accountable for your injuries through a personal injury lawsuit, you would have to prove negligence. Legally, negligent conduct is behavior that deviates from what a reasonable person would do under the same circumstances knowing that their actions could result in harm to another person.

Holding a Florida Boat Operator Liable for an Accident

In many cases, boating accidents are caused by the negligent conduct of one or more operators. For example, when boats collide, one of the operators was likely at fault. When someone pilots a boat or ship, they are required to follow all navigational rules and regulations. If an operator does not give a passing boat the right of way or is distracted while driving, collisions could happen. When a collision occurs because an operator was drunk or texting, the driver is usually held accountable for any injuries.

Some situations are not as straightforward. For instance, when a smaller boat strikes the wake of a larger vessel, it will be tossed around, possibly injuring passengers or, in the most catastrophic cases, capsized.

Liability in this type of case is not always clear. State and federal boating regulations require a boat operator to be aware of any reasonable hazard that could harm their passengers or other boats. So, when a person is injured in an accident caused by a wake, which operator should be held accountable?

Our Gulf Coast boat accident attorney will have to consider a number of factors, including the size of the wake, the boat’s speed, visibility at the time of the incident, traffic in the area, and the relative sizes and types of vessels involved. In some situations, a larger vessel will pass so close to another boat that its operator is unable to safely navigate the wake. In other cases, an operator might not be paying attention and carelessly drive through a wake that was easily avoided. Another critical factor is where the accident occurred. If the accident happened in a marina, then any wake would be prohibited and reckless. However, if it happened in open water, then the responsibility is not as clear. Therefore, it might be possible to hold one or both operators liable.

Another Passenger Could be Held Liable for a Boating Injury

Not every injury that happens on Florida waterways results from a boat colliding with another vessel or object. Many injuries are the result of a passenger falling overboard on tour boats, riverboats, and more. Our Everglades tour boat accident lawyers have worked through cases like this in which the passenger is not at fault for injuries caused by negligence.. In some cases, reckless or careless operation of the boat causes a passenger to be thrown into the sea. However, it is not uncommon for another passenger to cause an injury.

Boating is seen as a recreational activity and often involves alcohol or other substances. When a passenger is drunk, they might lose their balance and force another person into the water. In other situations, a drunk passenger could intentionally push someone overboard, either playfully or with intended malice. In either case, if an injury results, the drunk passenger could be held liable.

Holding the Boat Owner Responsible for Injuries in a Florida Accident

Not every injury happens aboard a privately owned boat. Likewise, not every accident is caused by someone out for a day of fun on their vessel. Florida has many charter boats and companies that operate pleasure crafts. If a company or boat owner allows someone who is not adequately trained or qualified to operate one of their boats, the company could be held liable for any injuries that occurred. Furthermore, if a company neglects to outfit its vessels with the required and necessary safety equipment, it could be responsible if the lack of equipment contributed to or caused any injuries.

Boat or Equipment Manufacturer Liable for Florida Boating Accident Injuries

Even small pleasure crafts are required to have various safety equipment on board, such as life vests, flares, fire extinguishers, and navigational whistles. Additionally, many boat operators rely on other equipment, such as sonar or other navigational aids, to help avoid running into submerged hazards or rocks.

When defective safety or navigational equipment causes an injury to a passenger, the manufacturer could be held accountable. Our Miami lawyer for boat accidents caused by rock pier crashes will thoroughly review your case’s facts to determine what parties should be held liable.

Call Our Florida Boat Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation

Litigation arising from a boating accident is complex. If you or your loved one was hurt, you need to contact our experienced Miami boat accident attorney. One of the critical questions to answer is, “who should be held liable for your injuries?” In some cases, the negligent party is obvious. However, in many others, which party should be held responsible is not as straightforward. Sometimes, more than one party is at fault. If you’re wondering who is liable for injuries on a cruise ship excursion or other boat accident and if you need help determining if you have a case and who you should sue, call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. at (305) 204-5369.


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Brett Rivkind is a lawyer that not only cares but also a lawyer that makes a difference. Whether its speaking in congress to help promote safety awareness in legislation or representing clients in court seeking compensation for their injuries, Brett Rivkind is passionate about his dedication toward both promoting safety at sea and helping clients in need who have been harmed at sea.

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