About Our Boating Accident Attorneys in Florida
With its beautiful beaches, bays, and lakes, Florida ranks No. 1 in the country for both boat registrations and, unfortunately, boating accidents. Boating accidents can cause catastrophic injuries requiring extensive medical treatment and lost wages—damages you may be entitled to recover compensation for.
The boat accident lawyers at Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC can help if you were seriously hurt in a boating crash. With over 50 years of combined legal experience, our attorneys are seasoned litigators who have counseled clients in a range of personal injury matters, and who are prepared to help you seek the compensation you deserve. Reach out and discuss your case in a free consultation with one of our Florida personal injury attorneys today.
Why Work With Our Florida Boating Accident Attorney?
Hiring a lawyer is not mandatory in the event of a boating accident. But it can significantly improve your chances of recovering compensation for damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
A Florida boating accident lawyer can help build a strong case by:
- Determining the full extent and value of your boating accident damages.
- Identifying all liable parties, such as other boat operators, boat owners, boat rental companies, boating parts manufacturers, and others.
- Negotiating with the insurance company for full and fair compensation.
- Filing your boating accident case with the civil court within Florida’s statute of limitations.
- Representing you in court and pursuing a jury verdict should your boating accident case become a lawsuit.
The medical bills associated with boating accident injuries can be extensive, and your medical treatment may extend for months or years into the future. You may be unable to work for several days or weeks following your accident. In some cases, you may not be able to return to work in your previous capacity. The pain and suffering you endure can go beyond the physical to the emotional. Your life could be altered forever.
Retaining the experienced boating accident lawyers at Holliday Karatinos Law Firm provides you with peace of mind knowing your best interests are being looked for so you can focus on your recovery. Your boating accident attorney will guide you through the claims process and seek justice on your behalf.
How Common Are Boating Accidents in Florida?
Florida’s expansive coastlines, endless waterways, and abundant lakes invite thousands, if not millions, of tourists each year, and provide recreation for the 21 Floridians who call our state home. Serious boating accidents are not uncommon in Florida. Like car accidents, boating crashes can result in serious injuries. In 2021, there were 751 boating accidents here that injured 469 people and killed 60. These accidents caused more than $20 million in property damage.
As a personal injury firm, our Florida boating accident lawyers have seen firsthand how dangerous boating can be. Many boaters simply do not take this activity seriously and choose to drink and boat, speed, or engage in other negligent behavior. If you were hurt in a boating accident, our boat accident attorneys want to help. Here is what you should know about this legal issue. Do not hesitate to reach out for help with your claim.
What are Florida Maritime Laws and Boating Regulations?
Given the popularity of boating in Florida, the state’s laws have comparatively fewer restrictions on operating watercraft. In fact, the state has no minimum age to operate a boat and does not issue boating licenses. Most people are not required to hold a boating license or to undergo any formal training or water safety courses to operate a watercraft in Florida.
For example, Florida does require operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, to take a boating safety certification or boating education course. This certification can be done online. Operators born before Jan. 1, 1988, are not required to have the boating safety certification. So, it’s not uncommon for inexperienced boaters to pilot a boat on Florida waters. Inexperienced operators are a leading cause of boat accidents in Florida.
Maritime law governing the waterways in Florida fall under federal law. As a result, in many cases, a boating accident lawsuit must be brought in federal court. Federal law has different legal standards for boating accident injury cases. Pursuing a claim in federal court means following different rules and procedures than those used in state court. As a result, you might need a boat accident lawyer qualified to practice in federal court to pursue your legal claim.
What Are The Common Types of Boating Accidents in Florida?
Common examples of boating accidents that occur in Florida waters include:
- Watercraft collisions
- Jet ski accidents
- Colliding into fixed objects, such as docks and piers, buoys, rocks, sandbars, or other submerged objects
- Flooding and sinkings
- Wake damage
- Falling overboard
- Slips and falls
- Fires or explosions
- Propeller accidents
The U.S. Coast Guard’s 2021 Recreational Boating Statistics report found the top five contributing factors in boating accidents were due to boat operator negligence, and include acts such as:
- Operator inattention
- Operator inexperience
- Improper lookout
- Machinery failure
- Excessive speed
How Common Are Jet Ski Accidents?
Although most people think of recreational boats when talking about personal watercraft accidents, jet ski accidents frequently occur in Florida and account for more than 700 accidents annually. Jet skis are some of the most popular types of watercraft owned and operated in Florida. In many places, jet skis can be easily rented by anyone with a driver’s license.
However, when negligently operated or maintained, jet skis can be quite dangerous, especially when they are involved in a collision with other watercraft. And, a jet ski accident can result in serious injuries. Florida law requires everyone involved in a jet ski accident to report it unless there are no injuries and damage is less than $1,000.
Reckless operation of personal watercraft is not only dangerous, but it’s also illegal in Florida. Some examples of reckless operating watercraft activities include:
- Spraying other vessels
- Weaving between other vessels
- Playing “chicken” with other vessels
- Jumping boat wakes
- Driving at speeds that endanger the life or property of others
Some recommended safety precautions when operating a jet ski include:
- Having safety lanyards/shutoffs in place while in use
- Keeping a safe distance between you and other vessels
- Staying alert at all times while driving or riding on a jet ski
- Maintaining your speed and direction when being overtaken by another vessel
- Changing course immediately when meeting another vessel head-on to avoid a collision, as neither vessel has the right of way
- Paying attention to changes in weather that may indicate approaching storms
What Injuries are Associated with Boat Accidents?
Florida boating accidents have the potential to cause a wide range of injuries, varying in severity. Some of the common boating injuries sustained in boating accidents are:
- Drowning: Drowning accidents represent the gravest injury resulting from boating accidents and can happen when a person falls overboard without a life jacket or when a boat capsizes or sinks.
- Lung infections: If an individual falls overboard or is ejected from a boat during a boating accident, they may inhale water before being rescued, putting them at risk of developing a lung infection. Additionally, a punctured lung during the accident can also lead to a lung infection.
- Traumatic brain injury: A blow to the head can result in a traumatic brain injury (TBI), potentially causing long-term or permanent brain damage.
- Spinal cord injury: Boating accidents can damage the spinal cord, which may result in paralysis or other enduring disabilities.
- Broken bones and fractures: The impact of a boating accident can cause bones to break or fracture, particularly in the arms, legs, and ribs.
- Cuts and bruises: When an individual is thrown from a boat or collides with another object, they may sustain cuts, bruises, and other soft tissue injuries.
- Hypothermia: Plunging into cold water can rapidly lead to hypothermia, where the body loses heat faster than it can generate it.
- Burns: Fires and explosions on boats can lead to severe burns.
- Emotional trauma: Boating accidents can be traumatic experiences, and individuals may undergo emotional trauma such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath of an accident
How Common Are Boating Deaths?
The occurrence of boating fatalities can differ based on various elements, such as the number of boats present, weather conditions, water conditions, and the competence and adherence to safety practices by the operators.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported there were 658 boating fatalities in the United States during 2021. Among these fatalities, alcohol emerged as the primary known contributing factor, causing 100 deaths, which accounted for approximately 16 percent of the total fatalities. In cases where the cause of death was identified, it was found that 81 percent of the individuals involved in fatal boating accidents drowned.
Who is Accountable for Boating Accidents in Florida?
If you were injured in a boating accident, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the party you believe was responsible for causing the accident. The boat operator, owner, boat rental company, or boat manufacturer may have caused the crash and subsequent serious injuries. If you can prove the defendant’s liability, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries.
In many boat accident cases, the boat operator is responsible for the accident. Operators must exercise care to prevent injuries to others. An operator violates this duty of care if he or she fails to act in a way that a reasonably prudent operator would act under similar circumstances, such as by speeding or failing to maintain a proper lookout. If you can show that the operator’s failure to exercise care caused your injuries and damages, you can hold the negligent boat operator liable.
If the boat operator was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident, you may base your claim on negligence per se. This occurs when a defendant violates a statute that imposes a duty of care to protect a certain class of persons. It is a criminal offense in Florida to operate a boat while under the influence. If an operator was drunk or drugged when the accident occurred, he or she is negligent as a matter of law. Nevertheless, you still must show that the operator’s negligence caused your injuries to recover compensation.
If the boat operator is not the owner, you may hold the boat owner liable for negligent entrustment. This happens when the owner knew, or had reason to know, that a person posed an unreasonable risk of harm to others by operating the boat, but the owner nevertheless let the person operate it.
You may hold the boat rental company liable for negligent renting practices if they rented a boat to someone who didn’t show proof of boating safety certification and was born after Jan. 1, 1988.
In some cases, a boating accident is caused by a machinery or mechanical malfunction. You may hold a product manufacturer strictly liable for your injuries if a manufacturing or design defect, which existed when the product at issue went into the stream of commerce, made the product unreasonably dangerous to its users.
You may not know the party or parties responsible for the boating accident that injured you, but an experienced Florida boat accident lawyer will. Call the boating accident lawyers at Holliday Karatinos Law Firm in Spring Hill, Florida, today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
What Damages Are Available for Florida Boat Accident Victims?
In the event of a boating accident in Florida, there are three categories of damages for which you may be eligible to seek compensation:
Economic damages are expenses directly related to your accident-related personal injuries and property. These include:
- Medical expenses incurred due to the accident.
- Lost income or wages resulting from being unable to work.
- Loss of earning capacity if the injuries have a long-term impact on your ability to earn a living.
- Funeral and burial expenses in the unfortunate event of a fatality.
- Property damage caused by the boating accident.
Non-economic damages are more subjective and include:
- Pain and suffering experienced as a result of the accident and injuries.
- Mental anguish endured due to the emotional trauma.
- Scars or disfigurement resulting from the incident.
- Loss of companionship, particularly in cases involving wrongful death.
In exceptional cases, Florida courts may award punitive damages. These are intended as a form of punishment when the responsible party demonstrated a deliberate disregard for the rights or safety of others.
A personal injury attorney can review the circumstances of your boating accident to determine the full extent of your damages and the amount of financial compensation you can pursue.
What if My Loved One Died in a Boat Accident?
If a loved one died in a fatal boating accident, you may pursue a wrongful death claim. You could potentially obtain compensation for your relative’s medical bills, funeral costs, and other damages, such as loss of companionship. The statute of limitations on wrongful death claims is two years. If your loved one died in a boating accident, talk with a personal injury lawyer about your options.
What if I’m Partially to Blame for my Accident?
The majority of states adhere to the doctrine of comparative negligence, which is a principle that reduces the amount of compensation you can recover for damages based on your percentage of fault.
In Florida, a “modified” comparative negligence standard is followed for most personal injury claims. This means that if you are determined to be less than 50 percent at fault for your injuries, you are eligible to receive some compensation. However, the amount of compensation awarded will be reduced proportionally based on your assigned percentage of fault. If the court finds you more than 50 percent responsible for your injuries, you will not be entitled to receive any damages.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Boat Accident Claims?
Florida has a two-year statute of limitations for initiating legal proceedings concerning boating accidents. This two-year timeframe begins on the date of your injury. Failure to meet this deadline will result in the inability to pursue compensation for damages related to your accident through the court system.
There are certain exceptions to this deadline. A knowledgeable boating accident attorney can assess your case to determine if it falls within Florida’s deadline.
How Can Holliday Karatinos Law Firm Help With My Boating Accident Claim?
When you have a boating accident claim, don’t turn to just any law firm for help. Holiday Karatinos Law Firm‘s team of personal injury attorneys has a proven track record:
- We have decades of combined legal experience representing injury victims throughout Florida, which has given us extensive knowledge of the legal process and injury law in this state.
- We offer clients the caring, focused attention they need and deserve as they go through the difficult process of recovering from a serious boating accident.
- We have the expertise and resources to handle even the most complicated boating accident claims.
- Our attorneys have been recognized statewide and nationwide for excellence in representing clients and recovering maximum compensation on their behalf.
- We have the skill to efficiently secure financial recovery for you through a negotiated settlement, but also the skill and readiness to protect your rights and interests at trial if necessary.
If you work with Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, our boating accident attorneys can serve you in the following ways:
- Determine the full extent of your damages, giving you a better opportunity to secure full and fair compensation.
- Advise you on Florida boating laws and federal maritime laws that may affect your case.
- Identify all liable parties, including boat operators, boat owners, boat rental companies, and manufacturers of boating parts.
- Negotiate with insurance companies to reach a fair settlement offer.
- Represent you in court, advocate on your behalf, and ensure your rights are protected.
Contact a Florida Boating Accident Lawyer with Karatinos Law Firm Today
If you sustained injuries in a Florida boating accident, you need the experienced trial lawyers at Holliday and Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC. Our personal injury attorneys have a proven track record of success both in and out of the courtroom, having obtained more than $125 million in financial recovery for our clients.
Our lawyers will investigate your accident, determine the extent of your damages, identify all liable parties, negotiate with insurance companies for fair compensation, and, if necessary, file your personal injury case in civil court within Florida’s statute of limitations. If your case goes to court, our experienced trial lawyers will represent you in court and fight for your rights. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to speak with a knowledgeable watercraft accident lawyer about your legal rights and options.