What to do if You've Been in a Boating Accident in Florida

What to do if You've Been in a Boating Accident in Florida

Susan R.  Miller
 | 
Summer is here and that means a lot more people will be out on the water in Florida and around the country. With the Atlantic to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west, the Sunshine State is literally surrounded by water. In fact, Florida ranks second in the nation with approximately 8,438 miles of coastline. Add in lakes, canals, rivers, bays and the Everglades and you can understand why so many people take to the water.
 
In 2020, Florida led the nation with 985,005 registered vessels. It’s also estimated that there are another million or so non-registered vessels.
 
With so many vessels traversing our waters, it’s no surprise that Florida also leads the nation in the number of boating fatalities annually. In 2020, there were 836 reportable boating accidents resulting in 79 deaths, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s 2020 Boating Accident Statistical Report.
 
Leading Causes of Fatalities
 
Colliding with another vessel was the leading type of accident in 2020 with a total of 224, while towed watersport activities were involved in 23 accidents, nine of which were fatal. The leading cause of death in fatal boating accidents was drowning with 42 fatalities. In addition, there were 375 accidents that resulted in 534 injured persons.
 
To be considered “reportable” in Florida, a boating accident must meet at least one of five criteria:
 
  • Someone dies
  • Someone disappears under circumstances that indicate possible death or injury.
  • Someone receives an injury requiring medical treatment beyond immediate first aid.
  • There is at least $2,000 aggregate property damage to the vessel(s) or other property.
  • There is a total loss of a vessel.
 
What to do After a Boating Accident
 
As with any accident, it’s imperative that you contact the authorities and let them know what happened. Depending on where the accident occurred, you may have to call 911, the U.S. Coast Guard or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
 
After an accident, make sure anyone injured receives immediate medical attention. If possible, document what happened, take pictures of the accident scene, and get contact information from witnesses. If another boater is involved, get their boat’s registration number as well as the names and addresses of anyone else on board.
 
It’s illegal for anyone operating a vessel who is involved in a boating accident to leave the scene without offering aid to those involved and without reporting the accident to the proper authorities.
 
What Constitutes Negligence?
 
If you or someone else engages in the following, you may be considered negligent:
 
  • The boat operator fails to obey posted speed limits or fails to slow down in dangerous conditions
  •  The boat operator fails to provide proper safety equipment
  • The boat operator is under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • The vessel is not properly maintained
  • The boat operator goes out in bad weather
If you are involved in a boating accident, it’s best to immediately contact a personal injury or maritime attorney. Florida law gives you four years from the date of the accident to file a boat accident claim. Check out our lawyer search site to find the right attorney for you.

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.
 
Susan R.  Miller

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