Who is Liable in a Boating Accident in Florida?
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, boating accidents leave people with devastating and life-altering injuries. To recover compensation for your damages, you must first identify the person responsible for the injuries you sustained because of a boating accident in Florida. Based on the circumstances of an incident, our attorneys can determine if a boat operator, passenger, company, or private owner is liable for your damages. After an investigation that identifies a liable party, our lawyers can help you file a lawsuit for compensation in Florida. A lawsuit may result in considerable damages, such as compensation for financial and emotional losses.
To schedule a free case evaluation with the Florida boat accident attorneys at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A., call our firm today at (305) 204-5369.
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 attorneys will have to piece together exactly what happened.
Just like a car accident, to hold another party accountable for your injuries from a boat accident through a personal injury lawsuit, you will 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.
Regarding negligence in a boating accident, a boat owner, manufacturer, or other passenger’s fault might be questioned. Our lawyers can begin determining liability by looking closely into the circumstances of your recent incident and assessing the fault of all parties involved. Using evidence gathered from the scene, information learned from police reports, and eyewitness statements, our attorneys can begin to piece together the series of events leading up to, and ultimately, causing, the injuries you sustained in a boating accident in Florida. This can enable our lawyers to determine who exactly is responsible for your damages so that we can proceed with filing a lawsuit for compensation in Florida.
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 is 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 might happen. When a collision occurs because an operator was drunk or texting, the driver is usually held accountable for any injuries to victims.
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, capsizing.
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 might 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. Depending on each case, such accidents and injuries might be caused by a fellow boat passenger in Florida.
When identifying who is to blame for your injuries caused in a boating accident, it might be unclear whether another passenger or an operator is at fault. These situations can be complicated, as such parties may even share liability. 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.
Navigating situations where another passenger’s negligence caused a victim’s injuries, can be challenging. Passengers on recreational and privately-owned boats in Florida might know one another personally, making pursuing compensation uncomfortable. While it is understandable to be hesitant to enter into litigation against someone you know, our attorneys can provide the support and guidance you need to handle such difficult circumstances.
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 might intentionally push someone overboard, either playfully or with intended malice. In either case, if an injury results, the drunk passenger can 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 can be held liable for any injuries that occur.
Vacationers visiting Florida might have it on their itineraries to take a ride on a pleasure craft, whether to dine out or simply enjoy the sites. Unfortunately, these vessels might present added dangers to visitors, especially considering the fact that there may be many other passengers and crewmembers unknown to tourists. Negligent boating companies that fail to properly train or oversee their crewmembers or monitor the safety of passengers might cause injuries to those passengers. Furthermore, if a company neglects to outfit its vessels with the required and necessary safety equipment, it might be responsible if the lack of equipment contributed to or caused any injuries.
Our lawyers can determine whether or not you can sue based on your ticket and the cause of your injuries so that you can identify your best route to recovery after an incident. Suing a boating company for compensation following an accident in Florida can be challenging for victims, especially since these companies tend to have fine print on tickets that enable them to evade liability.
Boat or Equipment Manufacturer Liable for Florida Boating Accident Injuries
Another addition to the list of possible liable parties for boat accident injuries in Florida is equipment or product manufacturers. The negligent manufacturer that produced the defective product that caused your injuries might be responsible for compensating you for damages sustained due to a boat accident in Florida.
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. Such equipment comes from manufacturers, who are responsible for testing the efficacy of equipment and informing purchasers of potential hazards that such equipment present. When manufacturers fail to take the necessary steps to ensure their products are safe and work as they should, they may be liable for a victim’s injuries caused by the defective equipment they produced and sold to a boating company or individual boater. In some cases, the actual boat itself might be defective because of mistakes or intentional misconduct on behalf of a manufacturer.
When defective safety or navigational equipment causes an injury to a passenger, the manufacturer can 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. If the at-fault party is a product manufacturer, you may be able to recover punitive damages in addition to other compensation in Florida.
How Can You Hold a Liable Party Responsible for a Boating Accident in Florida?
Typically, the best way for boat accident victims in Florida to hold a negligent party accountable is by filing a lawsuit. Doing this may enable you to claim greater compensation not available in an insurance claim in Florida.
While boaters in Florida are not required to get liability insurance for their vessels in case of an accident resulting in injury, many do. This is because injuries sustained in boating accidents are often severe, and liable parties often do not want to be personally responsible for footing the bill. Suppose you were hurt in an incident caused by a boat owner. In that case, you might consider filing a claim with their liability insurance, whether they are a private individual or a company.
While this is understandable, it might not be particularly beneficial for victims in Florida. Depending on a negligent party’s liability insurance policy, the maximum benefits may be insufficient to cover the cost of your injuries. This can leave you without the proper compensation to handle your medical bills and lost wages after an accident.
On the other hand, filing a lawsuit may allow you to claim greater damages. Our Florida boat accident lawyers can help you bring a case within Florida’s four-year statute of limitations so that you can recover compensation for economic and non-economic damages, which includes damages for financial losses as well as pain and suffering.
Call Our Florida Boat Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation
To schedule a free case evaluation with the Miami boat accident attorney at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A., call our firm today at (305) 204-5369.