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Boating & Personal Watercraft Accidents

Boating & Personal Watercraft Accidents


boatingFlorida is a state surrounded by water, making it a favorite vacation spot for people from all over the country. Residents and tourists alike flock to our coasts and inland waterways for swimming, boating, fishing, jet skiing, and water skiing. Congested waters often result in a greater number of boating and personal watercraft accidents, especially considering that many boats and personal watercrafts can reach speeds greater than 50 miles per hour, with no braking apparatus. Unlike our roadways, there are no stop signs in the water, nor is there any requirement that boat or personal watercraft operators over the age of 21 have a license or take boating classes. Regrettably, more and more Floridians and tourists are injured in such accidents each year. In fact, Florida has among the nation’s highest number of boating accidents involving injury and death.

Most boating and personal watercraft accidents involve:

  • collisions with other boats, swimmers, or objects (including docks, barges, channel markers, and piers)
  •  falls from personal watercraft or being thrown overboard
  •  the boat or personal watercraft sinking, flooding, capsizing, or catching fire

The most common causes of boating accidents include alcohol or drug use, poorly maintained equipment, debris in waterways, operator inexperience, negligence, recklessness, speeding, unsafe operation, boat defects, and personal watercraft malfunctions. Personal watercraft operators are very susceptible to injury when an accident occurs, due in part to the high speeds and quick turns of such watercraft and the inexperience of the operator. Victims sometimes do not survive, and many that do will often sustain serious injuries and lasting disabilities.

Injuries sustained from a boating or personal watercraft accident may include drowning, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, burns, broken bones, internal injuries, hypothermia, and amputations. Boat owners and operators, cruise lines, and boating and personal watercraft manufacturers are among the parties that may be found liable in a boating or personal watercraft accident injury case.

To protect yourself from injury on our waters while boating or enjoying personal watercraft, abide by the following safety rules for personal watercraft:

  • Wear a life jacket
  • Have an understanding of how boats and other watercraft operate
  • Exercise common sense
  • Take a boating safety course
  • Pay attention, and obey all signs and/or signals
  • Make certain that boats and watercraft are well-maintained
  • Boat defensively
  • Stay away from other boats, swimmers, etc.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating or personal watercraft accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages. Boating accidents are different from other personal injury cases because they can fall under either Florida’s jurisdiction or United States Maritime law, depending upon which body of water the accident occurred in. This jurisdictional issue can affect your case and who can be found liable. The experienced boating accident attorneys at Rice have handled a wide array of boating and personal watercraft accident cases. Our attorneys are well-versed in state, federal, and maritime laws which govern boating and personal watercraft accidents and will help you file the appropriate claim for compensation. We are committed to securing compensation for our clients, and we will work aggressively to hold negligent parties responsible. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.

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