Leading Causes of Boating Accidents
Florida is home to thousands of regular boaters, and anyone who wants to spend some time at sea has a plethora of choices that range from lakes to rivers to the ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. While the types of bodies of water may differ in Florida, the causes of Florida boating accidents remain alarmingly consistent. Below you’ll find a brief overview of some of the leading causes of these incidents, and if you or someone you love has been harmed in such a circumstance you need to seek the help of experienced Florida boating accident lawyers as soon as possible
Common Reasons to Seek A Boating Accident Injury Attorney
Operating a boat is not much different than driving a vehicle on the road in terms of the focus that’s required of the person behind the wheel. As such, a lapse in attention of even one second can prove to be dangerous if not deadly, which is why operator inattention has consistently ranked as the leading cause of Florida boating accidents in recent years.
Lack of a Proper Look-Out
Vessels on the water need more than one set of eyes fixed on the surrounding sea so that potential problems can be spotted and the person operating the boat can take appropriate measures in response. When a vessel is not making use of a look-out, the safety of those onboard is limited to the field of vision of the operator. Failing to use a look-out is always near the top of the list of causes of Florida boating accidents.
As is the case with vehicles on Florida’s roadways, boat operators tend to speed regularly. When boat operators are traveling at a rate of speed that’s too high, it reduces the margin of error that any operator has at his or her disposal, and engaging in such conduct only raises the likelihood that a crash will occur.
Perhaps the most daunting entry on the list of leading causes of Florida boating accidents is the use of alcohol by those who operate these vessels, specifically because this conduct is so preventable. Alcohol use leads to the same lack of judgment and slower reaction times on water as it does on land, and it also leads to a high number of accidents as a result of its use by those who are supposed to safely navigate any boat.
Generally, the legal issues are similar to other personal injury claims issues such as questions related to negligence, causation and damages. But before those questions can be answered, it must first be determined which law will control the case – federal maritime law or state tort law. The differences between federal maritime law and state tort law are significant and sometimes determine the outcome of the case. Only an attorney who regularly handles boating injury cases has the experience to sort through the complexity to maximize the monetary recovery.
Traditionally, maritime law applied only to commercial and ocean-going vessels. More and more recreational vehicles involved in accidents meet the conditions that trigger maritime law. If the accident occurs on “navigable waters” and there is a relationship between the accident and traditional maritime activities, the maritime law will govern regardless of the type of vessel. The legal system refers to these conditions as the “locality tests” and a “nexus test.” Read our article “Maritime Law” for a more comprehensive description.
The Jones Act
Boating accidents injure a variety of people who work on a boat, or ship. For instance, skippers, engineers, deckhands, seamen, galley workers, fishermen, crabbers, on-board seafood processors, ferry workers, and tug & barge hands have rights under maritime law. Oil rig workers, longshoremen, and ship repairers have maritime rights. The Jones Act is a federal law that extends the provisions of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), a statute that provides remedies for injured workers, in order to provide similar remedies for seamen.
If an injured crew member can prove even the slightest negligence by the employer, then the injured worker may recover a monetary award for pain, suffering and disability, and future medical benefits.