Personal Watercraft & Jet Ski Accident & Injury Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale

It is no secret that Florida residents love to spend their free time out on the water, especially on personal watercrafts. Unfortunately, the total lack of protection these watercrafts offer allows for the possibility of catastrophic or fatal injuries.

If you have been injured on a personal watercraft, a Fort Lauderdale personal watercraft & jet ski accident & injury from Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. can help you recover damages from those responsible for your injuries. Schedule your free consultation today: 954-524-2820.

What is a personal watercraft?

The Coast Guard defines personal watercrafts (PWCs) as any 13-foot vessel powered by a jet pump and inboard motor that a person can operate while kneeling, standing, or sitting.

PWCs are different than traditional boats in that you are not generally able to sit inside them. Some of the most popular types of watercrafts (often referred to by their brand names) include:

  • Sea-Doos
  • Jetskis
  • WaveRunners

Causes of PWC Accidents

Many accidents occur when a PWC collides with another vessel. While an accident can occur for any number of reasons, the most common include:

  • Inexperience: Many new riders are not able to properly judge speed and distances due to a lack of training and experience. Inexperienced riders also have difficulty handling the craft and learning how to turn. As a result, these inexperienced riders can crash into objects, including other water vessels, or fall off the PWC.  
  • Speeding: Some PWC riders may get an adrenaline rush from riding at high speeds. However, going too fast may cause riders to lose control of their watercraft and cause an accident.
  • Defective equipment: Some owners do not maintain their PWCs and/or lack the proper safety features required to operate the craft safely.
  • Failure to pay attention: Many riders get distracted while on their PWC and fail to notice obstructions or other vessels out on the water.
  • Drug and alcohol use: PWC riders who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol may be unable to control their vessel safely.
  • Failure to adhere to regulations: Under Florida law, you must be 18 to rent a PWC and 14 to ride one. The law also requires that you wear a lifejacket while riding and have a B-1 fire extinguisher onboard. However, many people fail to follow these guidelines and end up suffering severe injuries.

Personal Watercraft Accident Injuries

Those involved in watercraft accidents can suffer from a myriad of injuries including:

  • Spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis
  • Amputations
  • Broken bones
  • Neck injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (e.g., concussions, brain damage)
  • Damage to Internal organs

People with these types of injuries can have long recovery periods ahead of them. They may require extensive surgery, rehabilitation, and around-the-clock care. They may be unable to return to work after the accident, resulting in months of lost wages. Some PWC accident victims never fully recover from their injuries and cannot care for themselves without assistance.

Filing a Claim After a Watercraft Accident

Filing a personal injury claim after a water accident is not much different from filing a claim after a car accident. Under Fla. Stat. § 95.11, you will have up to four years after the date of the injury to file your claim. A successful claim will hold negligent PWC operators liable for any injuries or damages they caused.

To prove that a PWC operator or other party was negligent, you will need to establish the following elements:

The PWC operator/owner owed you a duty of care.

Generally, when someone is operating a vessel of any kind, s/he owes others a duty to handle the craft safely. The PWC operator must pay attention while on the craft, adhere to safety regulations, properly maintain the watercraft, and learn how to operate the craft responsibly.

Owners must properly maintain PWCs and ensure they are in safe operating order before renting them out.

The PWC operator/owner breached the duty owed to you.

Once you have established the other party owed you a duty, you will need to establish negligence by showing that s/he breached that duty.

You will need to establish that the PWC operator/owner failed to follow federal or state regulations or behaved negligently while operating the vessel. Police reports, expert testimony, regulations and laws, and other evidence will help support your claim.

Gathering evidence when you do not know what you are looking for is difficult. We handle the evidence gathering so you can focus on recovering.

The PWC operator caused your injuries.

Now that you have established that the defendant breached his or her duty to you, you will need to show that the breach caused your injuries directly or indirectly.

You can establish this by showing that the accident would not have occurred if it had not been for the defendant’s negligence. You must also show that what happened was a foreseeable result of the negligence.

We work with accident reconstruction experts to determine how the accident occurred and who is at fault.

You suffered injuries in the accident.

The final step of your claim will be showing that you suffered damages and injuries in the accident.

What damages can I recover?

If you win your claim, the defendants named in your suit will be liable for your injuries. You will be able to recover damages for many of the expenses you incurred due to the accident. Some of these expenses may include:

  • Lost wages: Many people find that they cannot work for a long time after the accident. You can recover the money you would have made at work had the accident not happened.
  • Loss of future earning capacity: Even after receiving medical treatment and therapy, many PWC accident victims will never fully get back to where they used to be physically or mentally. As a result, they may not be able to work at the same level they used to. You can recover damages for loss of future earning capacity based on your age, education, and past employment.
  • Medical expenses: The medications, hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy and other medical costs are expensive for many accident victims. The damages awarded may include past and future medical expenses.
  • Emotional trauma and pain and suffering: You can recover noneconomic damages as well. These damages account for the physical and emotional trauma suffered.

PWCs can be a lot of fun, but they can also cause severe injuries. Many of these injuries result from irresponsible riders who behave recklessly while on their watercrafts.

If you have been injured by one of these negligent riders, contact Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. to file your claim against them. Our team can help investigate the facts, collect the evidence and give you the best chance possible at recovering compensation for your injuries.

See how we can help you today: 954-524-2820.