When you head out for a day on the water, you expect to have a good time. You expect to enjoy the South Florida sun, make memories with friends or family, and maybe catch some fish. The last thing you expect is to suffer serious or life-threatening injuries in a boating accident. Unfortunately, these accidents are far too common. Fortunately, a Fort Lauderdale boat accident lawyer can provide you with clarity and your options for compensation.
Each year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) publishes a Boating Accident Statistical Report with data on boating accidents in Florida and the state’s coastal waters. Here are some of the most notable statistics published by the FWC:
Recreational boating and watercraft accidents are common in Fort Lauderdale’s waters. We handle cases involving all types of boats and watercraft, from jet skis, bowriders, and deck boats to 50-foot sailboats and offshore fishing vessels.
The majority of recreational boating and watercraft accidents involve operator negligence. Inexperience and distractions are among the leading causes of these accidents, and the FWC reports that roughly one in 20 recreational boating accidents involves an alcohol-impaired captain. Whatever the specific cause of your accident may have been, if another boater is responsible, our Fort Lauderdale maritime accident lawyers can help you fight to collect just compensation.
Other factors can cause recreational boating and watercraft accidents as well. For example, vessel defects and inadequate vessel maintenance are potential factors we consider in every case we handle. If you have been seriously injured or a loved one has been killed in a recreational boating accident—even if you or your loved one was the only boater involved—we strongly recommend that you speak with a lawyer to make sure you don’t leave money on the table.
Due to its location, Fort Lauderdale sees more than its fair share of boating accidents. While the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) boating accident statistics do not appear to include Broward County, Miami-Dade County to the south, and Palm Beach County to the north rank second and third, respectively, in terms of having the most boating accidents in Florida. As a result, if the FWC’s data were to include Broward County, it is very likely that Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding areas would rank very highly as well.
In fact, our Fort Lauderdale boat accident lawyer routinely hears from individuals who have been injured and lost loved ones in boating accidents inland and off of the Broward County coast. Some of the most common locations for accidents in Fort Lauderdale include the waters in and around:
Of course, boat accidents in the Atlantic Ocean are also common. On sunny days with calm conditions, the waters off of the Fort Lauderdale coast can be teeming with fishing boats and other vessels. Fort Lauderdale’s inland waters can also become extremely crowded with boats heading offshore and returning to land, and these crowded conditions present significant risks for collisions between vessels.
Depending on where and why your (or your loved one’s) boat accident happened, multiple parties could potentially be responsible for your losses. When we investigate boat accident cases in Fort Lauderdale, we evaluate the possibility of filing claims against parties including:
When you are involved in a boat accident in Fort Lauderdale, you should report the accident right away. Not only are boaters required to report accidents under U.S. and Florida law, but reporting your boat accident promptly can also help with establishing your legal rights later on. If you are within cell phone range, you can call 911 from your vessel. Alternatively, you can contact the U.S. Coast Guard using VHF channel 9 or 16 (channel 16 is reserved exclusively for distress calls).
If you got hit by a boater who was under the influence in Fort Lauderdale, you can file a claim based on the fact that the boater was drunk or high. Boating under the influence (BUI) is illegal in Florida; and, not only can impaired boaters face criminal prosecution, but they can also face civil liability for victims’ accident-related losses. Hopefully, the impaired boater has liability insurance. If so, recovering your losses will most likely involve dealing with his or her insurance company.
If the boater who hit you fled the scene of the accident, you should still remain at the scene and report the accident to the U.S. Coast Guard or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (DLE). You should also contact a Fort Lauderdale boat accident lawyer right away. Your lawyer will be able to walk you through the steps you need to protect your legal rights and determine what options you have available. These options may involve locating the hit-and-run boater, pursuing a claim based on other factors involved in the accident, or filing a claim under your own boat insurance policy (if your policy provides protection against uninsured boaters).
The U.S. Coast Guard makes some boat accident reports available online. If the U.S. Coast Guard or Florida DLE investigated your accident and you cannot locate a copy of the accident report on your own, a Fort Lauderdale boat accident lawyer will be able to help.
First, you should never assume that you were partially at fault in a boating accident. Lots of things can go wrong on the water; and, in many cases, there is simply nothing a responsible boater can do to avoid a collision.
Second, even if you were partially at fault, you may still have a claim—and you should still speak with a lawyer promptly. Under Florida law, an accident victim who is partially responsible for his or her own injuries is entitled to recover a portion of his or her losses calculated based on his or her percentage of fault.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a boat accident in the Fort Lauderdale area or off of the South Florida coast, we encourage you to contact us for more information. To speak with experienced Fort Lauderdale boat accident attorney Keith Brais in confidence, please call 800-499-0551 or request a free consultation online today.