States across the U.S. see thousands of boating accidents each year, especially in coastal areas like Florida. The ownership and operation of boats and ships in the U.S. are subject to federal, state, local, and maritime laws, which can be important for determining liability in the event of an accident.
Common vessels on which accidents occur include:
- personal watercrafts
- cruise ships
- inflatable boats
- cabin cruisers
- rented watercrafts
If you’re a passenger—or maritime worker—who is injured in a boating accident, you may be eligible for compensation. Personal injury attorneys who are experienced in handling boat accident injury claims can help you or a loved one determine your legal options in the wake of boating accident-related injury or death.
Top Causes Of Boating Accidents
Boating accidents can occur due to a wide range of causes and result in a number of consequences, including significant financial cost, property damage, and damage to individuals on- and off-board.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported 2,511 boating injuries in the U.S. in 2018—a slight decrease from the 2,629 injuries that occurred the previous year. Over 600 fatalities also occurred, with the total property damage reaching nearly $46 million.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, primary causes of boating accidents include:
- improper lookout
- alcohol use
- machinery failure
- force of a wave/wake
- navigation rules violation
- inexperienced boat operator
- hazardous waters
- weather conditions
- sharp turns
- restricted vision
When the cause of death is known, the primary cause of death identified among people in boating accidents is drowning. Vessel types that are most commonly reported in boating accidents include motorboats with interiors, open motorboats, and personal watercrafts.
Types Of Boating Accident Injuries
The types of injuries sustained in boating accidents in the U.S. can vary widely depending on the nature of the accident, how it occurred, and the scale of the accident. This can have a major impact on the type of medical attention that’s required (if at all) and the long-term effects for those injured.
Common injuries seen in boating accidents include:
- brain injuries
- scrapes and bruises
- broken bones
- spinal cord injuries
- internal organ injury
Wrongful death by drowning and other instances of operator negligence are also the subjects of many boating-related wrongful deaths claims in the U.S. The primary causes of death in boating accidents are alcohol use, hazardous waters, inexperienced or inattentive boat operators, and weather conditions.
Boating Accident Laws
Boat operators are subject to federal, state, and maritime laws to ensure proper operation of the boating vehicle and to protect the safety of passengers.
Under federal law, boat owners and operators are required to report any accident that occurs on-board when the accident involves:
- disappearance of one or more passengers
- resulting injury that requires medical treatment beyond first aid
- over $2,000 vessel or property damage
- destruction of the boat
Under these circumstances, the boat owner or operator is required to file a boat accident report with the individual’s state reporting authority.
Federal law also requires boat owners and operators to be in compliance with several other safety measures. Per carriage requirements, boats must have certain on-board mandatory safety equipment, such as life jackets, fire extinguishers, ventilation, visual distress signals, navigation lights, and more.
Boat accident and safety laws that are applicable to you may also vary depending on the type of boat on which the accident occurs, as well as other state and local laws. Cruise ships and other commercial boats, for instance, may be subject to different laws and requirements than a personal vessel.
Types Of Boating Accident Injury Claims
If you or a loved one wishes to sue a boat owner, operator, or manufacturer for personal injury, the primary element that must be present is proof of negligence, product liability, or reckless behavior. If you’re personally found to be at complete fault for the injury, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to receive awarded compensation from another party.
Forms of reckless and negligent behavior are some of the most common reasons why boating accidents occur. When people on-board a boat are injured in an accident, the primary owner or operator of the boat may be sued on account of negligence.
The legal theory of negligence is appropriate in cases where another party’s negligent or reckless behavior has resulted in personal injury of another person, or persons. Negligence is commonly named in personal injury claims.
Boat owners and operators may demonstrate negligence in a number of ways, including:
- being inattentive
- hiring inexperienced crew
- boating under the influence (i.e. drug or alcohol use)
- not properly maintaining safety equipment and appliances
- not taking care to avoid hazardous waters or weather conditions
- colliding with other boats or objects
- overcrowding or overloading the vessel
- driving the boat into a big wave or wake at a high speed
Boat owners may be held liable for injuries that occur as a result of contact with propellers and other violations of maritime vessel laws.
In many cases, boating accidents can occur not necessarily at the fault of the boat operator but due to problems related to the vessel itself—such as faulty design, defective machinery or boat parts, and defective appliances on-board. These can result in issues such as fires, electrocution, shocks, and other dangers.
Under these circumstances, injured victims may be able to file a claim against the boat owner and/or the manufacturer of the defective product. Manufacturers, retailers, and distributors are responsible for protecting consumer safety by ensuring their products are safe for use and manufactured according to industry standards.
Injured Maritime Workers
Maritime workers—including deck hands, officers, service staff, and others working onboard a maritime vessel—have the right to sue their employer for injuries that occur at sea under the federal Jones Act.
If you file a claim against your maritime employer, you may require evidence to support their liability in causing your injury. Injuries that occur as a result of being overworked and sleep-deprived may be more difficult to prove than a physical injury occurring as a result of failed compliance with mandatory safety requirements.
Other forms of negligence may include:
- assault by another crewperson within the scope of work
- failure to avoid heavy weather
- failure to maintain safe appliances and equipment
- failure to rescue
- failure to supervise
- among other forms of negligent or reckless behavior
Under the Jones Act, injured maritime employees may also file claims for maintenance and unseaworthiness.
Recoverable Damages From Boating Accident Injury Claims
Boating accident injuries can result in enormous cost, depending on the nature of the accident and the severity of the injury. Injured boaters may face high medical costs, ambulance costs, experience wage loss from missing work, and other costs associated with moderate to severe injury.
If the injury results in severe or permanent consequences on a person’s health or livelihood, this can have devastating effects on the individual and those around them as they navigate this unexpected future. Surviving loved ones of someone who has died in a boating accident may experience additional losses and be entitled to sue for damages.
Filing a personal injury claim or a lawsuit for boating accident-related injury gives individuals the opportunity to receive compensation for their losses.
Types of damages that may be awarded in boat accident injury claims include:
- current and projected medical expenses
- lost wages
- loss of earning capacity
- medications and treatment supplies
- property damage
- pain and suffering
- other losses directly related to the injury
Legal Options For A Boating Accident Injury
Taking legal action against a boat owner, operator, or manufacturer for accident-related injury can be a difficult process to undertake alone.
Hiring a lawyer who has experience in handling boat accident injury claims can benefit you by potentially reducing the length of the process, offering you essential legal expertise, and providing you with access to invaluable tools and resources to help you successfully receive compensation for your losses.
To achieve a fair settlement, you’ll also need to be able to provide ample evidence of the other party’s negligence and how their negligence resulted in the damages named within your claim. A boating accident lawyer can run a full investigation of your case, helping you collect witness testimony, medical records, and any other reports or information that will provide strong support for your claim.
In addition, if you file a boating accident injury claim and are unable to negotiate a fair settlement with the party involved, your lawyer can help you file a personal injury lawsuit to bring the liable party to court.
At Florin|Roebig, our lawyers have the skills, connections, and resources to make this happen seamlessly without any undue stress on your part.
List Of Boating Accident Injury Lawyers Serving The U.S.
Florin|Roebig boating accident lawyers and attorneys have decades of combined experience handling a variety of personal injury and wrongful death cases resulting from unfortunate incidents.
Our lawyers have a thorough understanding of boating accident laws and regulations and have the drive to serve as effective legal advocates for individuals who are injured at the fault of another party.
Our team of seasoned boat accident attorneys, serving clients in Florida, Texas, Colorado, and Minnesota includes:
- Wil H. Florin, B.C.S.
- Tommy D. Roebig, B.C.S.
- Michael L. Walker, B.C.S.
- Chase P. Florin, B.C.S.
- Neil P. O’Brien, M.B.A.
- Shaun M. Cummings
- Luca G. Esposito
- Chad K. Florin, M.B.A., LL.M.
- Nicholas S. Costantino
- Jordan A. Kolinski
- Parker Y. Florin, LL.M.
- Taylor D. Roebig
- Kavon P. Smith
- Matthew L. McMullen
- Michael A. Ossi, O.C.
- Lawrence J. Najem, O.C.
- Andrew M. Leone, O.C.
- Nollys R. Solarte, O.C.
- Brian R. Dettman, O.C.
Find A Boating Accident Injury Lawyer Near You
If you’ve been injured in a boating accident as a result of another party’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. The lawyers of Florin|Roebig can help you fight for the compensation you deserve and bring your case to trial if needed.
Boating accident injury claims are subject to certain deadlines, depending on where you live in the United States. Therefore, it’s important to begin the process of taking legal action as soon as possible.
Don’t wait. Contact the offices of Florin|Roebig today to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our award-winning lawyers to discuss the details of your case.