The Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Coast, Gold Coast, Panhandle, Biscayne Bay, Palm Bay, Apalachicola Bay, Choctawhatchee Bay, East Bay, Escambia Bay, Estero Bay, Florida Bay, Pensacola Bay, Ponce de Leon Bay, Sarasota Bay, St. Andrews Bay, Tampa Bay, Whitewater Bay, Inter-Coastal Waterway, canals, lakes, and rivers in Florida offer countless opportunities for recreational boating. As a result, more yacht and boating accidents occur in Florida every year than in any other state.
If you have been seriously injured in a Florida yachting or boating accident, call us today at (855) 375-3727 for a free case evaluation with one of our Board-Certified Miami maritime attorneys.
Boating Education and Safety Precautions
The majority of recreational boating accidents occur because of a general lack of boating education. People underestimate the dangers of watercraft compared to land vehicles, and the majority of boat operators do not understand basic Rules of the Road or nautical safety laws and precautions, such as:
- What to do when another yacht or boat is coming at them
- How to approach a big wave or wake at a safe angle and speed
- The importance of installing "kill switches" (devices that turn of fan engine if the operator is thrown from the helm)
- The importance of wearing life jackets
Florida does not currently require most recreational boat owners to undergo boating education and instruction. Mandatory instruction is limited to operators under a certain age or a vessel over a certain length. This means that many people behind the wheel of a yacht or boat in Florida do not have any specialized knowledge of the vessel's characteristics.
Other Causes of Boating Accidents
Some other common causes of boating accidents include:
- Failing to keep a lookout while guests are tubing or water-skiing
- Defective boat design
- Defective boat repair
- Striking a fixed object (e.g. pier, bridge, navigational aid)
- Overloading and overcrowding
- Drinking alcohol
The Limitation of Liability Act
The Limitation of Liability Act of 1851 is codified in 46 U.S.C. Section 30505. Under the Act, a boat owner can file a lawsuit to limit their liability in any accident to the value of the boat or vessel (plus pending freight at the end of their voyage). This means that if the boat which causes the accident sinks or has little or no value, the owner may owe little or nothing to injured parties. But there are exceptions and restrictions on when and under what circumstances the LOLA can be used. The statute provides in 46 U.S.C. Sec. 305012, for example, that:
This chapter does not affect the liability of an individual as a master, officer, or seaman, even though the individual is also an owner of the vessel.
There is a very small window of time to file a response to a boat owner's Limitation of Liability lawsuit, and also introduce a claim for your damages. In order to successfully obtain compensation after a boating accident, injured passengers need the help of an experienced maritime attorney who knows how to navigate this complex area of law.
As one of only a few lawyers in Florida who has received Board Certification in Maritime Law, Attorney John H. (Jack) Hickey has the specialized experience you need to recover the compensation you deserve after a boating accident.
If you have been seriously injured or if one of your loved ones has been killed in a yacht or recreational boating accident, please contact Hickey Law Firm, P.A. today or call (855) 375-3727 for a free case evaluation. We represent injured boating accident victims throughout the state of Florida.