Florida is known for its miles-long sandy beaches and vibrant sea life. On any given day of the year, hundreds of people take to Florida's waters in all kinds of watercraft, from jet skis to mega yachts.
Much like automobiles, there can be a learning curve to acquiring the skills needed to control watercraft. This is why it is important that those who operate watercraft rental services follow the applicable state regulations relating to instructing watercraft renters before allowing them to take off for a day of fun.
The following is an excerpt from a civil complaint filed by Hickey Law Firm, P.A. on behalf of a client who was severely injured in a watercraft crash, which was caused by the rental company's negligence.
"On the date of this incident, May 21, 2017, the Defendants organized a personal water craft excursion in Monroe County, Florida for N. Prada and [The Plaintiff].
WHITE accompanied Mr. Prada and the Plaintiff on the excursion and acted as the tour guide. The Defendants permitted N. Prada to drive a personal water craft with Plaintiff as the passenger. Defendants knew that N. Prada was a tourist who was unfamiliar with the operation and handling of personal water craft, and were unfamiliar with Florida statutes, other Florida law, and maritime law regarding the operation of such vessels and regarding the navigational rules for vessels in Florida waterways.
DAVID CHRISTOPHER WHITE, a guide responsible for giving N. Prada directions on how and where to drive the personal watercraft, disappeared from view as N. Prada and Plaintiff drove into a narrow area surrounded by mangroves. Because of the guide’s lack of direction and N. Prada’s lack of training in the navigational rules and the safe operation of these fast, powerful, and dangerous vessels, N. Prada went too fast trying to keep up with the guide. Prada’s speed was too fast given the sea conditions and given his close proximity to mangrove trees. As a result of the Defendants’ negligence, the personal watercraft violently collided at a high rate of speed with the mangrove trees.
The force of the personal watercraft colliding with the mangrove trees caused Plaintiff to be ejected from the vessel. Plaintiff suffered head trauma, was knocked unconscious, and nearly drowned while she waited for help to arrive. In addition to suffering head trauma and losing consciousness, Plaintiff suffered a broken cheekbone which required surgical repair and an injury to her foot.
N. Prada was never given the opportunity to read the Owner’s/Operator’s Manual, the Riding Practice Guide, the Riding Instruction Card, and all Labels or to watch the Basic
Orientation Video. Had N. Prada had the opportunity to read the Owner’s/Operator’s Manual he would have been advised about the cruising limitations of the personal watercraft. The Defendants should have known not to allow N. Prada to operate the personal watercraft with a passenger on board without knowing for certain that Mr. Prada had considerable practice and experience first riding alone.
These failures and violations directly and proximately caused this collision and these injuries. The Defendants’ failures to train and to provide sufficient pre rental and pre ride instructions which complied with the sections above resulted in the operator of the at fault vessel, N. Prada, to operate the personal watercraft carelessly, recklessly, and negligently.