If you have been in a boating accident and think you may need legal help, we recommend you contact an Orlando boating accident attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.
The people that live in Florida are blessed to have access to countless lakes, 1,350 miles of coastline, and almost 26,000 miles of river. Thus, water activities are a huge part of life in Florida. This abundant access to water gives residents and visitors endless opportunities for water-related fun and enjoyment.
Many people use the Florida waterways. In fact, Florida has more registered boats than any other state in the US. So, with the high number of boaters, boating accidents are inevitable in Florida. Out of all the people on the water in Florida, some boat operators are inevitably going to act reckless or negligent. Unfortunately, some boaters won’t pay attention while riding and some will go faster than they should. And some boaters will drive while they’re intoxicated. Therefore, a fun day on the water can quickly turn into a horrific experience.
Florida Boat Accident Statistics
Top 10 Causes of Florida Boat Accidents in 2020
- Inattention or Improper Lookout (240 boat accidents)
- Operator Inexperience (77 boat accidents)
- Other (75 boat accidents)
- Machinery Failures (65 boat accidents)
- Weather (53 boat accidents)
- Excessive Speed (46 boat accidents)
- Careless or Reckless Driving (48 boat accidents)
- Hazardous Water (33 boat accidents)
- Alcohol or Drug Use (31 boat accidents)
- Congested Waters (23 boat accidents)
Top 5 Types of Florida Boat Accidents in 2020
- Collision with a vessel (224 boat accidents)
- Collision with a fixed object (163 boat accidents)
- Flooding or Swamping (72 boat accidents)
- Falls overboard (66 boat accidents)
- Grounding (50 boat accidents)
Top 5 Times of Day When Florida Boat Accidents Occurred in 2020
- 04:00pm – 05:59pm (178 boat accidents / 11 fatalities)
- 02:00pm – 03:59pm (165 boat accidents / 10 fatalities)
- 12:00pm – 01:59pm (131 boat accidents / 10 fatalities)
- 06:00pm – 07:59pm (119 boat accidents / 9 fatalities)
- 10:00am – 11:59am (72 boat accidents / 9 fatalities)
How to Be a Safer Boater in Florida
With all the alarming statistics above, it’s time to talk more about how we can help make our waters safer and more fun for everyone. Thus, we have listed some useful tips for increasing boater safety.
Get Boating Education
Many of the boating accidents in Florida occur because the driver had insufficient or no boating education. In fact, roughly 69% of the boat operators involved in fatal accidents in 2020 had no formal boater education.
Wear a Life Jacket
Most of the boat accident-related deaths in 2020 involved someone falling overboard and drowning. Of those people who drowned, roughly 88% were not wearing a life preserver. Thus, the number of Florida boating fatalities could be greatly reduced by the simple act of putting on a life preserver.
The FWC cited “no proper look-out/inattention” as the number 1 cause of boating accidents in 2020. In fact, inattention accounted for 240 boating accidents in Florida in 2020. This is over three times the number of boating accidents as the number 2 cause of boating accidents, which is inexperience. So, stay alert and pay attention while operating a boat.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
The FWC cited alcohol use as the primary cause of 12 boating fatalities in 2020. We all know that neither drugs nor alcohol will make us safer boat operators. So, leave the booze on the bank and never operate a boat if you’re intoxicated.
Of course, we can’t always control what other boat operators do on the water. However, by getting boater education, wearing a life jacket, paying closer attention, and avoiding drugs and alcohol, you can increase your odds of having a safe day on the beautiful waters of Florida.
Evaluating a Florida Boating Accident Lawsuit
Next, let’s shift gears and talk a little about the legal aspects of a boating accident. These are the types of things your Orlando boating accident attorney will think about while evaluating your case.
If a boater injures a person or destroys property while driving a boat, the victim or the property owner may have a claim against that boater for negligence. Negligence is the cause of action in most personal injury cases where one person (the defendant) engages in careless actions or omissions that cause harm to another person (the plaintiff). As a result of the defendant’s harmful acts, the plaintiff may have a cause of action against the defendant for negligence.
When a person brings a lawsuit against a boat operator for injuries and/or property damage, the lawsuit would typically be a negligence action. There are four elements your Orlando boating accident attorney must prove in a negligence action: duty, breach, causation, and damages.
- First, the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
- Second, the defendant breached that duty.
- Third, the defendant’s breach was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s harm.
- Fourth, the plaintiff suffered damages.
Causes of Boating Accident Lawsuits in Florida
There are many ways a boating accident can turn into a lawsuit. So, we have listed some of the more common causes of boating accident lawsuits below:
- Riding in bad weather
- Driving too fast
- Hitting a wave too fast
- Hitting a wave at a bad angle
- Lack of proper safety gear on the boat
- Collision with a vessel
- Collision with an object
- Too many passengers
- Failure to follow the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s rules
Common Injuries From Boating Accidents
There are a variety of injuries a person might suffer in a boating accident. The costs associated with these injuries are part of the damages element of the negligence lawsuit, as we discussed above. Here are some of the more common boat accident injuries that the FWC listed in its 2020 report.
The FWC listed lacerations as the most common type of boating accident injury in Florida, reporting 150 such injuries in 2020. Lacerations could be caused to passengers who are thrown around a boat upon an impact. Alternatively, folks in the water can be cut by sharp objects protruding from the boat, like a propeller. As a result, boat accident victims often suffer lacerations.
Broken bones were responsible for 90 total boating accident injuries in 2020, the second most common boating injury in Florida in 2020. Boat passengers are rarely secured to their seats and are thrown around the boat when there’s an impact. As a result, passengers often suffer bone injuries. These bone injuries can require surgery to repair and lots of time to heal. Moreover, bone injuries can be a major setback. Finally, broken bones cause a lot of pain and suffering.
At 83 total injuries, contusions were the third most common boating injury in Florida. A contusion is just a medical way of saying a bad bruise or bleeding under the skin resulting from trauma or impact. These are common boat accident injuries. For example, if a boat hits a wave too fast or an object in the water, the passengers are typically not strapped in with any kind of seatbelt. Thus, when a boat impacts something, the passengers are often violently tossed around the boat. As a result, passengers often suffer serious bruises in a boating accident.
Head and Brain Injuries
At 61 total injuries, head injuries are the fourth most common boating accident injury in Florida. These types of injuries could include any brain injuries that result from oxygen deprivation after being underwater too long. Additionally, head and brain injuries might include things like concussions, traumatic brain injury (TBI), brain bleeding, skull fractures, or disfiguring injuries that require plastic surgery or restorative surgery.
Neck, Spine, and Back Injuries
There were 8 neck injuries, 8 spinal injuries, and 29 back injuries caused by boating accidents in Florida in 2020. These types of injuries are common, and they could include whiplash, spinal cord damage, herniated discs, or strains and sprains.
There were 20 burn injuries as a result of boating accidents in Florida. Although burn injuries are not the most common injury, they are the most horrifying. For example, a burn injury could include things like fatal or disfiguring burns that may require skin grafts. Thus, serious burns often require multiple plastic surgeries to restore.
Tooth and Jaw Injuries
Injuries to the teeth and jaw accounted for 11 total boating accident injuries in Florida in 2020. With the violent motions produced when a boat hits a wave or when a boat impacts an object, passengers can suffer serious dental damage. Thus, it’s not surprising that tooth and jaw injuries are a common result in boating accidents.
Compensation for Boating Accident Damages
There are many financial consequences to a boating accident. As we talked about above, people can be very seriously harmed in a boating accident. Moreover, boats, docks, and properties on the water are expensive. The following are some of the costs associated with boating accidents:
- Medical Bills for Injuries Suffered
- Property Damage Costs
- Lost Wages
- Loss of Future Earnings
- Physical Pain
- Emotional Pain and Distress
- Increased Insurance Premiums
Do You Need to Speak to an Experienced Boat Accident Attorney?
When you’re facing a financial burden caused by another party’s negligence, you need an attorney who will fight for you like family. Spetsas Buist is based in Orlando but serves clients in all of Florida, as well as in South Carolina and North Carolina. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.