Jet skiing is a popular and enjoyable pastime in Florida waters, but it does not come without risks. These risks can be particularly dangerous if the rental company does not fulfill its legal responsibilities.
These responsibilities include providing working jet skis, functional safety equipment, and adequate training for all drivers. For this reason, even if another driver causes your injuries, you may still sue the rental company for putting a dangerous driver on one of their jet skis. If you have the ability to sue, it will only last for four years from the date of the accident.
That is why it is imperative that you reach out to Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. as soon as possible if you suspect you may have a valid lawsuit. Our experienced Florida jet ski injury attorneys may be your best opportunity for financial recovery. To get a free initial case evaluation with your first call, contact us at (305) 204-5369.
Can You Sign Away Your Right to Sue for Injuries on a Rented Jet Ski in Florida?
When you rent a jet ski, the rental company will almost always have you sign a waiver that limits their liability in case of an accident. These waivers are typically meant to prevent customers from suing for negligence on the part of the rental company if this negligence causes injury.
However, there are certain negligent actions that the company cannot disclaim by having you sign a waiver. Under Florida law, waivers cannot prevent you from suing in every circumstance. You can still sue the jet ski rental company even if you waived your right to sue for negligence if they caused your injury through gross negligence. Gross negligence is a step above normal negligence. Your Florida jet ski injury attorney can help explain the difference as it applies to your accident.
Rental companies may also be liable for preventable mechanical failures that cause injuries. Jet skis operate with a considerable amount of power, and if they malfunction, the results can be catastrophic. If the company rented you a jet ski with damage that rendered it unseaworthy, you can likely escape your waiver.
Responsibilities of Jet Ski Rental Companies in Florida
Jet ski rental companies are responsible for providing a safe environment for their customers. These obligations include both making sure that the rented vessel is safe to operate and ensuring that the customers are briefed on how to operate them.
Under Florida law, any person or company that rents a personal watercraft, such as a jet ski, to someone else must ensure that certain screening and educational steps are taken before the other person takes control of the vessel. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the rental company must meet the requirements below:
- Make sure that the customer is at least 18 years old
- Provide proper safety equipment and demonstrate how it works
- Provide pre-ride instruction on safe operation of the vehicle
- Explain the rules of the area where the customer will be operating, such as channel markers, hazards, and no-wake zones
- Give an on-the-water demonstration and hands-on assistance to customers to ensure proficiency
- Display signage with all relevant safety information in clear view of all customers, including warning labels, rules of operation, dealing with visibility issues, and reckless operation
Rental companies must also routinely inspect their vessels, particularly before they are rented, to ensure that the vessel is functioning correctly and according to regulations. This responsibility extends to the attachments and accessories that they rent along with the vessel.
For instance, the rental company must provide safety flotation devices (such as life vests) to customers. Lanyards attached to kill switches must be functioning effectively. If the rental company also provides inflatable items like inner tubes meant to be towed, the company must ensure that the towable item attaches safely and provide instructions for safe use.
If the defect that caused your injury was caused by negligent manufacturing, the company that made the jet ski may be liable for your injuries through a legal concept called vicarious liability. Our Miami jet ski accident attorneys can assess your accident to determine whether accident resulted from poor rental company maintenance or manufacturer error.
What if Another Jet Ski Driver Caused Your Injuries in Florida?
Jet ski rental companies also have a responsibility to keep dangerous drivers off of their vessels. Like any other powerful product, a functional jet ski is only as safe as the person using it. If the jet ski rental company rents one of their vessels to a person who behaves irresponsibly, you may be able to sue the jet ski for putting them in the position to cause harm.
The rental company must provide safety instruction and screen customers based on their age and licensure prior to rental. All individuals, even renters, who pilot personal watercraft in Florida waters must have the appropriate licensure. Rental companies also have the right (and responsibility) to rescind a rental from a driver that they suspect will behave recklessly on the water, even if they have already rented the vessel.
Alcohol is a serious problem that causes a large proportion of personal watercraft accidents in Florida. Rental companies should not provide alcohol to their patrons. They should also warn against the dangers of drunk boating and be wary of the state of customers. An experienced Miami personal injury attorney can help connect these kinds of dangers to the cause of injury in your case.
How Long Do You Have to Sue for Injuries from a Rented Jet Ski Accident in Florida?
If you feel that you have a valid cause of action for your jet ski accident injuries, you only have a certain amount of time to act. Under Florida’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims, injury victims only have four years from the date of their accident to file their lawsuit in court. If you miss the deadline, the other side will move to dismiss your claim and you might wind up with nothing.
Four years may seem like a long time, but the deadline can creep up on you before you even realize it. The process of preparing your official complaint may take some time, particularly for more severe injuries. We recommend reaching out to our Hialeah personal injury lawyers well in advance of your deadline.
We Can Help You File Your Lawsuit After a Rented Jet Ski Accident in Florida
Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. is ready to assist you in your search for justice. To learn more, call our offices at (305) 204-5369.