Personal watercraft (PWC), almost ubiquitously referred to as jet skis, are incredibly popular in Florida. A fun and exciting way to spend time on the water, PWC also offers several opportunities for serious or even fatal injury. When jet ski accidents are the result of someone else’s negligence, be that of a rental company, PWC manufacturer, or others on the water, victims may be entitled to seek compensation for all related damages. Hickey Law Firm, led by double-board certified attorney Jack Hickey, specializes in maritime law and has extensive experience with accidents involving personal watercraft. If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a jet ski accident, please call our Miami office at 305-371-8000 to schedule a free consultation today.
PWC stands for personal watercraft and may refer to any number of recreational watercraft on which the rider sits or stands. Unlike boats, PWC, also known as water scooters, do not have sides and often have room for only one person. JetSki, manufactured by Kawasaki, was one of the first personal watercraft to become trademarked and has since commonly been used to refer to all types of PWC, but there are actually several names for these vessels, including Sea-Doo, WaveRunner, AquaTrax, and Sealion. Companies involved in manufacturing PWC include Honda, Yamaha, Polaris, and Arctic Cat.
Jet ski accidents are very common in Florida, with both novice and experienced riders, but particularly with those new to the experience. In the state of Florida, rental companies are required by statute to provide training for novice riders, even when riders will be part of a tour. Sadly, these specific regulations are not always followed.
Research conducted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has found that most jet ski accidents occur in the Keys, but Miami-Dade County sees the second-highest number of PWC accidents. Both of these are popular tourist destinations, but tourists are not the only victims of PWC injuries. Many experienced riders fall victim to injury as well – often in accidents that could have been avoided.
Common causes of PWC accidents in Florida include: Poor or inadequate training Inexperienced riders Speeding Reckless operation Drug and alcohol use Equipment failure Collision Poor maintenance Inclement weather Some of these causes may be related to the operator of the vessel, but others are beyond their control. When an accident is the result of someone else’s negligence, victims have the option of seeking recourse through legal action. Jet ski accidents fall under maritime law. This specialized area of the law requires an attorney who has sufficient experience for successful navigation.
When you are injured in a jet ski accident, even if you suspect your actions played a role, it is a good idea to have a maritime lawyer review your claim. In addition to maritime law, there are specific Florida Statutes that apply to personal watercraft accidents. There are also United States Coast Guard (USCG) regulations, regulations of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, and the inland and international rules of the road which can apply to these accidents. Jack Hickey is board-certified in maritime law and has a deep and direct understanding of the complexities involved in these cases. Please use the contact form on this page or call our Miami office today to schedule a free case review and learn more.
There may be several parties held liable for an accident involving PWC. These include the rider, boaters, swimmers, others in the water, a PWC manufacturer, equipment provider, rental company, or mechanic. The best way to determine who is liable for your accident is with the help of an experienced jet ski accident attorney. It is important to remember that, in the state of Florida, the operator or owner of the vessel which caused the crash may file a Limitation of Liability Act (LOLA) case in Federal Court under Title 46 of the United States Code. Under the LOLA, the owner of the vessel can file an action to offer the court the value of the vessel.
The liability of the owner, if the owner prevails in this action, is limited to the value of the vessel. With a PWC, that value may be practically nothing compared to the actual value of a claim. There are, however, exceptions to the limitation of liability under this statute, especially in cases where the owner or master of the vessel had prior knowledge of negligence. Once again, it is best to have an experienced PWC attorney on your side in these cases to help ensure negligence is identified and proper steps are taken to secure maximum compensation.
In cases where a vessel was faulty, poorly designed, or improperly manufactured, the company that made a PWC may be found liable for damages. This can be very difficult to prove and often requires an independent investigation.
Damages that are common in personal injury claims include: All related medical expenses Wages lost during recovery and due to any lasting injuries Property damage Home modifications made necessary by the injury Adaptive technology, such as wheelchairs made necessary by the injury Pain, suffering, and emotional damages There is no guarantee of fair or full compensation following a jet ski accident, particularly when you settle with an insurance company.
The best way to determine what your claim may be worth is through a one-on-one consultation with an experienced and dedicated maritime accident lawyer.
Having an attorney on your side helps to ensure that a full investigation into the cause of your accident occurs. This is essential for establishing liability and determining the worth of your claim. Without a lawyer on your side, you may settle for much less than you are due, a decision that may have far-reaching consequences.
Contact Hickey Law Firm for a Free Case Review If you have been injured in a jet ski accident, please call Hickey Law Firm at 305-371-8000 for a complimentary case review. Located in Miami, we serve victims of serious injury in the Keys and throughout Florida.