Who is Liable if a Boat or Ship Crashes into the Pier in Florida?

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    Who is Liable if a Boat or Ship Crashes into the Pier in Florida?

    Boat crashes and their causes are often somewhat difficult to parse out.  In an emergency situation, you might be thinking about your safety, not who was at fault.  In the investigation and the aftermath of a boating accident, our lawyers can help determine who is at fault.

    In an accident where a boat crashes into a pier, fault often lies with the boat operator.  However, there may be more complex situations where a boat was actually pushed into the pier by another vessel.  In these cases, fault is more complex and could be blamed on either or both boat operators, depending on the specific facts of the case.

    Reach out to our Florida boat accident lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind for a free case evaluation by calling (305) 204-5369.

    Fault in Boat Crashes Involving Piers in Florida

    In any boating accident, the question of who is at fault is usually resolved by looking at which boater or boaters did something wrong to cause the crash.  If you were doing everything you were supposed to be doing, you likely are not at fault.  However, there are many situations where no one was completely in the right, and fault might actually be divided among multiple parties.  The following analysis of different situations should help you understand who might be at fault in these kinds of cases.

    Fault for People on the Pier

    Likely, those on the pier are not going to be at fault for the accident.  These people did not move the pier or put it in a dangerous place, so they likely did not cause the crash.

    However, there are some situations where someone on a pier helping to guide a boat pilot to tie up could give bad instructions or tell the boat operator to come in too fast.  It is even possible that, in an attempt to throw lines and ropes to tie up a vessel, they could end up pulling a vessel into another boat or into the path of another boat, causing the crash.  There may also be issues where people tell a boat to come up to the pier in a location that another boat was already moving toward, in which case these poor instructions might have contributed to the crash, too.

    However, these situations are rare; it is far more likely that one of the boat operators caused the crash.

    Single-Boat Accidents Involving Piers

    If one boat crashes into a pier, it is likely that boat operator’s fault.  Piers are stationary, and crashing into a non-moving object is one of the most obvious things you should not do while operating a boat.

    If a boater came in too fast because they misjudged their speed or distance from the pier, it is likely their fault that the crash happened.  If they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or even if they were simply too inexperienced to pilot a boat safely, the crash is more likely to be their fault.

    Multi-Boat Crashes Involving Piers

    When two boats are involved in a pier accident, fault could lie with either boat operator or perhaps both of them.

    If one boat was stationary at the pier, then the other pilot is likely at fault for crashing into them.  However, if both pilots had their vessels moving and made moves to avoid each other, crashing one of the vessels into a pier in the meantime, determining which boater is at fault would be a lot more complex.  We would have to look into whether either boat was doing something it should not have been doing – such as trying to pass on the wrong side – leading up to the crash.  Otherwise, there may have been mistakes on both sides, such as speeding or failing to keep a proper lookout, leading to shared fault.

    When fault is shared among multiple boat operators, each party can usually get compensation for the share of damages caused by the other party, with some limitations.  In cases where a passenger who did not contribute to causing the accident or someone injured on the pier sues, they can get damages from each at-fault boater in proportion to that operator’s fault.

    Damages for Injured Pier Accident Victims in Florida

    As mentioned, victims can claim damages from the person who caused their accident.  This party could be the owner or operator of the boat rather than the pilot, but our maritime accident lawyers will have to look into the accident to determine which specific party or insurance company will pay for your damages.  We will also have to look into what damages you suffered and help you claim the full value of these damages.

    Damages often include compensation for the medical bills you faced from the injury, as well as compensation for any wages you lost because of your injury and recovery time.  Medical bills are often quite expensive, and serious injuries can lead to long-term lost wages, resulting in high “economic” damages.  You can also claim direct compensation for your pain and suffering.  These pain and suffering damages, along with other “non-economic” damages for mental anguish, emotional distress, and other intangible harms, can also be quite high in many cases.

    As discussed above, fault is often divided among multiple people or companies.  If a company owns and operates the boat, it is likely liable for mistakes its employees make, such as the boat’s pilot speeding into port.  In cases where multiple boaters or companies contributed to causing the accident, the jury assigns a percentage of fault to each party, and they pay that percentage of the total damages to you.  In cases where a victim is partially liable, Florida law allows them to get damages as long as they are a maximum of 50% liable.

    Call Our Florida Boating and Pier Accident Lawyers Today

    If you were involved in a boat crash involving a pier, call our Miami personal injury lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind today at (305) 204-5369.

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