What Is the Cause of Most Boating Accidents?

Man steering speed boat on water with woman riding up front.

If you are like many Floridians, getting out on a boat and exploring the turquoise waters surrounding the sunshine state is one of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of Florida. But what happens when you get into a boating accident that results in severe injury or, in worst-case scenarios, a fatality? If you do not practice basic boating and water safety techniques, a beautiful day out on the water can quickly turn scary. 

Boating accidents in Florida can, unfortunately, lead to serious injury and even loss of life. Knowing your legal options if you’ve been involved in a boating accident that led to a severe injury or loss of life can help you move forward in the best way possible. Working with a boating accident lawyer can prove invaluable. 

At Bernstein & Maryanoff, our experienced personal injury lawyers have helped countless plaintiffs seek the compensation they deserve following a boating accident. Contact our team today to book a free consultation on your case. 

What is the cause of most boating accidents?

The leading cause of boating accident fatalities and serious injuries is collisions. According to the 2021 Boating Accident Statistical Report published by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, boating accidents cost the lives of 60 individuals in 2021, while another 469 were injured. 

Collisions are the leading cause of fatalities while on the water for a variety of reasons. Being far away from the shore, lack of adequate medical help, and the inability to swim following a collision are all reasons victims may lose their life after a boating accident. 

In many instances, the operator of the boat was the reason behind the collision. Common reasons boat operators may find themselves in a collision include inadequate operational training, poor visibility, speeding, or drunk driving.

Common types of boating accidents

A photo of a white boat partially submerged under water, in the process of sinking.

While boating collisions are the leading cause of fatalities while on the water, they are not the only reason boaters may face serious injury or loss of life. There are other common causes of fatalities in Florida boating accidents. These causes can include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Not receiving adequate or immediate medical care if it was needed
  • Explosions while on board
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Sinking and capsizing
  • Going overboard and being unable to swim 
  • Boating while intoxicated. Florida Statutes § 327.35 prohibits boaters from operating watercraft while having a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or greater. Violators can face serious and similar consequences as driving a vehicle while drunk.

Many boating accidents are entirely preventable. Boaters can do their part to stay safe on the water by ensuring they are up to date with safety training and regulations and have, at the bare minimum, medical training such as CPR in the event of an emergency situation.

If you are a boat operator, it is imperative to stay up to date with your operational and safety credentials so that you can steer clear of hazards that may lead to serious injury or even death. 

Common injuries associated with boating accidents 

For the lucky many who survive following a boating accident, they might still suffer a variety of physical and mental injuries due to the boating accident. These injuries can become worse if not treated quickly and properly. Common serious injuries associated with boating accidents can include the following:

  • Pneumonia
  • Nonfatal drowning 
  • Burns 
  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Internal bleeding 
  • Organ damage 

If you have suffered a severe injury following a boating accident, it’s essential to seek immediate medical attention. It’s also important to keep up with any scheduled doctor’s appointments. If you pursue legal action, your medical care can serve as evidence of your injuries and help you claim compensation. 

Seeking damages following boating accidents 

Unlike drivers of motorized vehicles, boaters do not have to carry insurance when they operate a vessel in Florida. Unlike an auto accident, where a motorist’s insurance coverage will pay out any losses you suffer following the auto accident, boat accident victims do not have that type of coverage. Because of this, the best way to seek compensation following an injury is through a personal injury lawsuit with an experienced boating injury lawyer. 

Victims can file a personal injury lawsuit on their behalf of themselves or on behalf of the wrongful death of a loved one. Under Florida Statutes § 95.11(4)(d), boat accident victims will have to file their lawsuit within two years following the date of the boating accident.

Understanding economic and non-economic damages 

If you or a loved one has been injured following a boating accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your physical and mental pain and suffering.

Victims of boating accidents may seek compensatory damages that are aimed at restoring them to their financial status before the accident occurred. These compensatory damages can come in the form of economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages refer to the tangible losses you or your loved one has faced because of the boating accident. These damages can include the following:

  • Loss of wages, income, and earning capacity
  • Medical expenses incurred, such as hospital bills, medical treatment, medication, and other medical costs
  • Costs associated with funeral and burial services

Non-economic damages refer to the incalculable losses you or a loved one has faced because of a boating accident. These incalculable losses can include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish and trauma
  • Loss of consortium

Work with a boat accident attorney

If you’ve been injured or have lost a loved one due to a boating accident, navigating the path forward can be overwhelming and sometimes intimidating. Working with an experienced boat accident lawyer is one of the best ways to help you understand your legal rights and obligations regarding legal action following a boating accident. The experienced team at Bernstein & Maryanoff is committed to helping you understand your rights as you navigate a personal injury lawsuit following a boating accident. 

If you have questions about your rights following a boat accident injury, contact our law offices today and schedule a free consultation on your case.


2021 Boating Accident Statistical Report.

Florida Statutes § 327.35.

Florida Statutes § 95.11(4)(d).

About the Author

attorney Jack Bernstein standing in front of a blurred background

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

Jack Bernstein is a hard working and highly motivated personal injury attorney in Miami, Florida with over three decades of experience. He is a strategist and idea person, with a genuine passion for helping his firm’s clients. If you've been injured, contact Jack Bernstein today for a free evaluation of your case.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.