Boat Accident & Injury Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

Boating is the favorite pastime of many Fort Lauderdale residents. Unfortunately, not everyone is safe out on the water. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), there were over 700 accidents in Florida in 2015 alone. If you were injured in an accident with a negligent boat operator, a Fort Lauderdale boat accident lawyer can help you file a claim to recover compensation.

Call the boat accident attorneys at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. to discuss your case today: (954) 524-2820.

Causes of Boating Accidents in Florida

While various factors can cause an accident, operator error is a leading cause of boating accidents. Operator error can include:

Operator Inexperience and Lack of Education

In 2015, the FWC noted that operator inexperience was a factor in 51 accidents. Much of this inexperience occurs as a result of the one or more of the following:

  • Age: With 26 percent of personal watercraft accidents involving operators under the age of 22, it is clear that many young boaters do not have enough experience to safely control a watercraft.
  • Lack of boat ownership: Only 43 percent of boaters involved in accidents own their own boat. Without regular access to a boat, it may be difficult for boat operators to gain experience.
  • Lack of operating hours: A vast majority of boaters involved in accidents (78 percent) had less than 100 hours of experience operating a personal watercraft.
  • Lack of Boater Education: In addition to a lack of experience, many boaters lack the education required to control their vessels. The FWC found that 57 percent of PWC operators involved in an accident did not have any form of boater education. Legally, all boaters born on or after January 1, 1988 must take a boater education course.

Operator Negligence

When operating a boat, boaters are expected to adhere to safety regulations and remain focused on the water at all times. When a boat operator fails to exercise proper caution and control of their watercraft, they are behaving negligently. Many accidents are the result of boater negligence.

A common example of operator negligence is drinking while operating a boat. Just like on land, it is illegal to operate a vehicle, in this case a boat, while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

What do I need to do to file a claim?

In order to file a successful suit against a boat operator after an accident, you will need to establish that the operator’s negligence makes him responsible for the accident in question and that his behavior caused you harm. To do so, you will need to prove the four basic elements of negligence:

Duty

Duty in a boat accident case is fairly easy to prove. Anyone who is operating a boat has a duty to exercise proper caution and follow the appropriate standard of care while in control of any watercraft. This is called the duty of care.

Breach of Duty

A big part of your case will be whether you can prove that the boat operator breached that duty and is therefore liable for your accident.

If a boat operator behaved negligently or made a mistake while operating the vessel, he may be at-fault for the accident that occurred. Some of the most common forms of boating negligence include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Excessive speed
  • Driver inexperience
  • Operating without a boater education ID card
  • Failure to adhere to boat safety laws
  • Failure to yield
  • Failure to adequately survey the area
  • Reckless driving or “show boating”
  • Operating under the influence or alcohol or drugs

Personal watercraft liability can arise in a number of situations. If an operator breached his duty of care by behaving negligently, you may be able to hold him liable for damages. You may prove breach of duty with:

  • Accident reports
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • State boating regulations

A Fort Lauderdale boating accident attorney can help you gather the necessary evidence to prove your case.

Causation

Your next step will be to prove that the boat operator’s negligence is what caused your injury. Use your medical records to prove that your injury was the result of the accident and not a preexisting condition.

Damages

You must also be able to prove that you sustained actual damages (e.g., medical bills, lost wages, etc.) in the accident. You can use the following to prove the damages you sustained:

  • Medical bills and records
  • W-2s or paystubs
  • A pain journal to document how the injury affects you daily (e.g., “My pain was a level 9 today. I have not been to work in four days. I could not get out of bed to go watch my son’s soccer game today.”)

Compensation for Injuries in Boating Accidents

According to the FWC, the top four injuries suffered by boat accident victims are:

  • Lacerations
  • Contusions
  • Broken bones
  • Head injury

Victims may also suffer back and neck injuries, sprains, strains, and burns. All of these injuries can lead to costly medical treatment, time off work, and pain and suffering for everyone involved.

Fortunately, if you are able to prove negligence, you can hold the operator liable for your injuries. If the boat operator carries insurance, you may be able to file a claim with his insurance company.

If the operator does not carry insurance, you may be able to recover both economic (e.g., lost wages, medical expenses, etc.) and noneconomic damages (e.g., pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc.) in a boating accident lawsuit.

Call an Attorney for Help with Your Claim Today

Filing a claim or lawsuit is trying; it is especially difficult if you are attempting to do so while also recovering from serious injuries. You do not have to do it alone.

Contact the attorneys at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. in Fort Lauderdale to discuss how we can help you recover the compensation you deserve. For a free initial consultation, call (954) 524-2820.