Boat Accident Attorney

A boating accident or watersports injury can occur just about anywhere on or near the water. These types of incidents can result in serious injuries that leave victims with large medical bills, financial struggles, physical pain, and emotional suffering. The laws governing accidents involving personal watercraft, yachts, and other recreational vessels can be extraordinarily challenging to navigate on your own. Contact an experienced boat accident attorney at Brais Law Firm to help you since we have vast experience representing individuals and families that have suffered losses and damages in water-related accidents.

Have You Been Injured in a Boat Accident or Injured in a Watersport Accident?

Our firm handles all types of recreational boating and watersports cases, including claims involving:

Personal Watercraft Accidents

Accidents involving Jet Skis, WaveRunners, and other personal watercraft can be caused by many different factors. Some of the most common causes include speeding, reckless operation, distractions, alcohol use, and failure to follow navigational rules. Individuals who are injured because of operator negligence may be entitled to recover compensation for their injuries.

Ferry, Tour Boat, and Charter Vessel Guest Accidents

Our firm has vast experience representing individuals who have been injured on ferries, tour boats, and charter vessels. We handle all types of claims, ranging from slip and fall accidents on wet decks and passengers overboard to physical and sexual assaults. Because the attorneys with our firm have years of prior experience representing these operators, we have an inside understanding of what is required to bring a successful claim.

Boating Collisions

Boating collisions are more common than we would like to think. In fact, according to U.S Coast Guard reports, nearly 4,500 recreational boating accidents occurred in 2016 alone. Whether the accident involved a motorboat, pontoon, canoe, kayak, or other recreational vessels, a boating accident lawyer has the knowledge and resources to help injury victims get fair and full compensation for their losses and damages.

Yacht Accidents

Yacht owners and operators are required to comply with a host of boating rules and safety laws. When these rules and laws are violated and an accident occurs, operators and owners can be held liable for ensuing injuries and damages. At Brais Law Firm, we understand navigational rules and safety laws. When a yacht accident occurs, we undertake a complete examination so that we can help our clients recover the compensation to which they are entitled.

Defective Watercraft Cases

Defective Jet Skis, WaveRunners, and other personal watercraft products can be extraordinarily dangerous. Not only can operators and passengers suffer serious injuries when a watercraft malfunctions or goes out of control, but people who are swimming in surrounding areas can also be hurt or even killed. These types of claims involve complicated facts, and there may be multiple parties who are legally responsible for the injuries. Our firm knows how to investigate defective watercraft cases thoroughly, and we pursue all available legal avenues on behalf of our clients.

Sightseeing and Dinner Cruise Accidents

Whether it’s a snorkeling adventure, sunset sail, or a private party on the water, sightseeing, and dinner cruises are popular activities for vacationers and residents alike. Unfortunately, passengers and crew members can suffer serious injuries when the operators of these voyages are negligent. At Brais Law Firm, we understand the complex body of laws (known as maritime law) governing accidents and injuries that occur on the water. If you have been injured on a sightseeing or dinner cruise, our team will examine your case from every angle so that we can build a powerful case on your behalf.

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Brais Law Firm Represents People Injured During Common Recreational Boating Accidents

The boating accident lawyers at Brais Law Firm have decades of combined experience representing clients injured on the water, aboard vessels, and while on shore engaging in certain activities. We have successfully helped clients recover the compensation they deserve for a broad range of boating and watercraft accidents, including: 

  • Collisions 
  • Falling overboard
  • Capsizing 
  • Fire and explosions 
  • Missing vessels or passengers 
  • Sinking and flooding accidents 
  • Physical and sexual assaults

Boating can lead to a broad range of accidents, and the type of body of water the accident occurred on and the actions of the parties involved in the accident will determine liability. When another party owes a responsibility to you and breaches that responsibility, causing the accident that led to your injury, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. 

We Also Negotiate and Litigate on Behalf of Boating and Watercraft Employees

Individuals who are injured while enjoying recreational boating or watercraft are not the only ones hurt in these circumstances. Employees of the companies that provide these services may also be subjected to injuries. For example, wave runners and jet skis are often delivered by workers, and any onboarding or offboarding of watercraft runs the risk of potential accidents and injuries.

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How to Prove A Recreational Boat Accidents Claim

To get compensation for your damages, you’ll need to prove that someone or something else was the cause of the accident or incident that led to your injuries. This generally requires consideration of negligence. Negligence is a complex legal concept that will be applied to the unique facts and circumstances of your case and influence whether another party or you is responsible for the associated costs.

Proving Negligence in A Boat Accident

Negligence is comprised of the following four parts:


This is when another party has a responsibility to another, which can include the duty to follow the rules of the water or the duty of a seller or rental agency to provide yo you with a watercraft that is safe to operate as intended 


The duty that you are owed must be breached by the other party for liability to be assigned to them potentially. This can include a breach due to negligence, recklessness, or other willful and/or illegal behavior


The breach of duty must have been the cause of the accident or incident that caused your injury, such as when poor maintenance creates unsafe conditions or necessary safety equipment is not provided for potentially harmful activities 


The injury that resulted from the accident caused by the breach of duty must lead to damages that you can prove with evidence and will generally include medical costs, lost wages and lost earning potential, and in some cases, even damages for pain and suffering 

For example, if you have rented watercraft from a private rental company, you are owed a duty of care from the owner, which includes the responsibility to provide you with a vessel that is safe to operate. If the owner of the vessel breaches this duty, and poor maintenance on the vessel leads to an accident that causes you injury, he or she should be held liable for the related damages. Your boating accident lawyer will gather whatever evidence is available in support of your case to produce the highest possible compensation for your damages. 

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Common Causes of Boating Accidents

The circumstances that led to your boating accident will determine the amount of damages to which you are entitled. Some of the most common causes of boating accidents include: 

  • Improper seating of passengers 
  • Reckless or careless operation of a boat or other vessel
  • Failure to follow weather warnings and indicators 
  • Poor maintenance of boats and watercraft 
  • Operating in congested areas result in accidents 
  • Intoxicated operation of a boat or watercraft 
  • Overcrowding the boat 
  • Inattentive or distracted boating 
Keith S. Brais

Harvard University notes that distracted boating is ranked as the 5th-ranked concern in the boating community in relation to the prevention of boating accidents. Others who are operating boats and watercraft have a duty to follow the rules and laws that apply and also to be responsible. When another driver violates their duty to drive safely and attentively, causing an accident that injures you, you may be entitled to payment for the costs and damages linked to the accident. You do not automatically receive compensation from the party responsible for the accident, but instead, you’ll have to file an insurance claim to do so. Your claim must have sufficient evidence to prove both your short-term and long-term costs and damages, must be filed with the appropriate insurance company, and must be filed within the time allowed so that you do not forever lose your right to pursue related compensation. 

The Insurance Company Works for Profit, Not for You

When you have been injured while enjoying recreational boating and watercraft or while working in the maritime industry, you’ll generally be seeking compensation from the insurance company of your employer, insurance companies are for-profit organizations that make greater profits when their costs are reduced. One of the primary costs for the insurance company is payments made to injured persons such as yourself. Without sufficient evidence, your claim could be dismissed, but with a boat accident lawyer helping on your case, you’ll have the best possible chance of getting the compensation you deserve. And to be clear, when the insurance company will not provide a fair settlement, we will take them to court on your behalf.  

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3 Steps to Determine Liability for Recreational Boating Accidents

If you need to file a claim for any type of recreational boating or watersport accident, you must first determine what type of claim to file.

Boating accidents can occur under a wide range of circumstances and involve a wide range of issues, and this means that a wide range of parties can potentially be responsible.

When you hire a boat accident attorney to represent you, he will go through a three-step process to determine how he or she can seek just compensation on your behalf. The steps in this process are:

  • Determining the cause of the accident
  • Determining who (or what company) is responsible
  • Determining what insurance coverage is available
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Step #1: Determining the Cause of the Accident

Determining liability for a recreational boating accident starts with determining the accident’s cause. This involves conducting an investigation, and it is extremely important that this investigation take place as soon as possible. You will want to hire a boat accident lawyer promptly. Once hired, your attorney will need to send an experienced marine accident investigator to examine the scene and each of the boats or personal watercraft involved.  

Your legal counsel can also contact the U.S. Coast Guard to find out more information and seek to collect evidence through various other means as well. Based on the evidence gathered, your attorney will then work to identify the factors that led to the accident. Common causes of recreational boating and watercraft accidents include:

  • Boating in dangerous water conditions or bad weather
  • Boating under the influence (BUI)
  • Collisions with other vessels or stationary objects
  • Distracted boating (including talking on the phone, taking pictures, and talking to passengers)
  • Improper anchoring or mooring
  • Inexperienced boating or watercraft operation
  • Poor boat or watercraft maintenance
  • Prop strikes
  • Running aground

While these are among the most common causes of recreational boating and watercraft accidents, they are by no means the only potential factors. To protect your legal rights, you need to work with an experienced boat accident lawyer who can evaluate all potential causes based on his or her knowledge of boat and watercraft design, safe boat operation, weather and water conditions, and maritime liability laws.

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Step #2: Determining Who (or What Company) is Responsible

Based on the factor (or factors) that caused your accident, your boat accident attorney will be able to determine who (or what company) is responsible. As expanded upon in the list below, this could be someone onboard the vessel on which you were riding, someone onboard another vessel, or some other third party. To pursue a claim for a boating or watercraft accident, you need to know where to file your claim. Which insurance company do you need to contact? If you need to file a lawsuit, which court has jurisdiction? These are critical questions—if you don’t file the right claim, you won’t have any chance of recovering the financial compensation you deserve. Depending on the cause of a recreational boating or watercraft accident, the parties that may be liable include:

  • The captain of the boat that hit your boat
  • The owner of the boat that hit your boat (whether an individual or business)
  • The captain, a crewmember, or another passenger of the boat in which you were riding
  • A boat manufacturer, marina, or maintenance company
  • A charter, sunset cruise, or expedition company

Similar to the list of possible causes above, these are just examples. From marinas to commercial ports and from cargo ship operators to cruise lines, various other entities could be responsible for your accident as well. To assert your legal rights effectively, it is imperative that you hire an experienced boat accident lawyer who can conclusively determine and prove responsibility for your injuries.

Step #3: Determining What Insurance Coverage is Available

After your attorney determines legal responsibility for your injuries, he can then focus on determining what insurance coverage is available. In the vast majority of cases, boat accident claims are resolved through insurance settlement negotiations. If the party that is responsible for your recreational boating or watercraft accident has liability insurance, recovering just compensation will most likely involve dealing with that party’s insurance company.

There are several ways to determine what insurance coverage is available following a recreational boating or watercraft accident.

The easiest way is to collect the other party’s insurance information at the scene. But, if this wasn’t an option in your case, your attorney can pursue other methods of identifying the at-fault party’s insurance company.

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Insurance Claims for Recreational Boating Accidents

Let’s focus for a moment on the most common scenario: You were injured in a recreational boating accident, and you have a claim against either a vessel operator or a vessel owner. All recreational boat and watercraft owners and operators should have liability insurance. While boat insurance is not required in Florida, responsible boaters will carry insurance to protect themselves (and others) in the event of an accident. So, let’s say you have an insurance claim. What happens now? Once your boat accident attorney investigates and determines liability, he or she will file a claim with the operator’s or owner’s insurance company.

At this point, the insurance company will conduct its own investigation. But, while your attorney’s investigation will focus on uncovering the facts, the insurance company’s investigation will focus on finding any possible way to deny your claim for coverage. After conducting its investigation, the insurance company will make a determination of liability. If it accepts liability, your lawyer’s efforts will focus on negotiating a favorable settlement (or preparing to go to trial on damages if necessary). If it denies liability, your attorney will need to use the evidence gathered from his or her investigation to prove that the denial is unjustified. 

Once your insurance claim gets past the liability stage, the next major task is proving how much you are entitled to recover. This involves calculating the costs of your present and future medical treatment, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other losses. It is essential that you work closely with your attorney during this stage of the process. The more you can do to help prove your losses, the more you will be able to recover. If the insurance company makes a settlement offer, your boat accident law firm will help you decide whether to accept. If you accept, you will receive a settlement check, and your claim will be over. If you reject the offer and the insurance company refuses to offer more, your claim will need to proceed to court.

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Contact a Boating Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible After Your Accident

The experienced maritime attorneys at Brais Law Firm have decades of combined experience working with recreational boaters and watercraft owners and renters, in addition to crewmembers and seamen who have been injured while working.

Whether your injury happened while onboard, while boarding or offboarding, loading or unloading a vessel, or even on a wave runner, you could be entitled to compensation for your damages. Determining the amount to which you are entitled and whether or not the insurance company will pay you depends on the evidence. 

A boat accident attorney at Brais Law will gather evidence from all parties involved concerning the accident or incident that led to your injuries. This includes reports of the incident, as well as maintenance records for the watercraft or boat and any other related practices that could have mitigated the risk of your injury. It is important to contact a lawyer as soon as you can after receiving medical care as we’ll issue a request for production as well as a preservation notice so that important information that could help your case is not disposed of before it can be applied to your claim. The sooner your boat accident lawyer from Brais Law Firm begins on your case, the better the quality of evidence we will be able to put forward in support of your claim. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With One of Our Boat Accident Attorneys at Brais Law Firm Today

When you are hurt in a recreational boating or water sports accident, it can be difficult to figure out who you can turn to for help. The attorneys at Brais Law Firm have decades of combined experience helping people who have been injured in all types of boating accidents. Call us today to schedule an appointment with our boating injury lawyers.

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Seeking Financial Compensation for a Recreational Boating Accident

What Should You Do if Someone Hits Your Boat?

How Can You Prove That Another Boat Hit Yours?

Is It Worth Getting a Boat Accident Attorney?

How Much is a Boating Accident Lawyer from Brais Injury Law?

What are the Costs Involved in Pursuing a Boat Accident Claim?

What is the First Thing To Do When You’re in a Boat Accident?

What Should You Do When You’re in a Boat Accident in Florida?

What is the Most Common Type of Boat Accident?

What are Most Boat Accident Attorney Fees?

What Should You Do if Someone Hits Your Boat?

If someone hits your boat, there are some important steps you should try to take right away. This is true whether the incident happens at a marina, boat landing, dock, or on the open water. You should call the U.S. Coast Guard or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement from the scene. You should exchange insurance information with the other boater, and you should take lots of photos. If you were injured in the accident, you should seek medical treatment promptly, and you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Reporting the accident is required, and taking these additional steps will help maximize your chances of obtaining just compensation.

How Can You Prove That Another Boat Hit Yours?

Proving that another boat hit yours requires evidence. While you can’t use skid marks like you could after a car accident, there are still plenty of ways to prove which boater is responsible for a collision. The location of impact on each vessel, the extent of the damage to each vessel, eyewitness reports, and video footage can all be used to prove liability for a recreational boating or watercraft accident.

Is It Worth Getting a Boat Accident Attorney?

If you’ve been injured in a recreational boating or watercraft accident, it is absolutely worth talking to a lawyer about your legal rights. Boat accidents can be incredibly expensive, and the cost to repair or replace your boat could be just a fraction of your total accident-related losses. An experienced attorney will be able to determine who (or what company) is responsible, accurately calculate your losses, and fight to recover just compensation on your behalf.

How Much is a Boating Accident Lawyer from Brais Injury Law?

A common question that potential clients ask us is whether or not they can afford our services for the entirety of their case. The answer is if we take your case: yes, of course. Your initial consultation is free, during which time we’ll collect some basic information about your injuries, your employer (in cases involving employee injuries), and the incident or accident that led to your claim. If we determine that we are able to take your case, we will go over engagement options, which may include taking your case on contingency. That means we only get paid if we win your case, and you’ll pay nothing out-of-pocket, ever. We’re happy to answer any questions that you might have about the terms of our representation during your initial consultation. To get the most out of your time, it can be helpful to have a list of questions ready as well as any evidence related to the case handy for review.

What are the Costs Involved in Pursuing a Boat Accident Claim?

Pursuing a boat accident claim can entail various costs. For example, your lawyer will need to hire an investigator, and it may be necessary to hire divers, boat engineers, and other marine experts as well. At Brais Law Firm, we take care of these costs while our clients’ claims are pending, and we only recover them if we help our clients recover just compensation. As a result, you are guaranteed to pay nothing out-of-pocket when you hire our firm to represent you.

What is the First Thing To Do When You’re in a Boat Accident?

When you are involved in a boat accident, the first thing to do is to stop the vessel. Do not move to a new location. You should contact the U.S. Coast Guard or the local authorities (i.e., the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or FWC), and you should wait for them to arrive at the scene. While you are waiting for the U.S. Coast Guard or local authorities to arrive, you should administer first aid as warranted, take photos and videos (if you can do so safely), and try to obtain the other boater’s insurance information.

What Should You Do When You’re in a Boat Accident in Florida?

Once the U.S. Coast Guard or FWC conducts its preliminary investigation, you will be free to leave. If your boat is still seaworthy, you can captain it back to the dock, boat landing or marina. Take additional photos of your boat here as well, placing particular emphasis on documenting the damage from multiple angles. If you were injured in the accident, you should next go to your doctor’s office or the hospital. It is important you obtain a diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. Then, once you are stable, you should write down everything you remember about your boat accident, and you should contact a boat accident lawyer to arrange a free initial consultation.

What is the Most Common Type of Boat Accident?

According to data from the U.S. Coast Guard, collisions between recreational vessels are the most common type of boat accident, this is followed by collisions with fixed objects, groundings, flooding or swamping, and falls overboard. The U.S. Coast Guard's data indicate that the most common causes of recreational boat accidents are:

  • Operator inattention
  • Improper lookout
  • Operator inexperience
  • Excessive speed
  • Alcohol use

It is not a coincidence that collisions between recreational vessels are the most common boat accidents and operator inattention is the most common boat accident cause. Inattentive, or distracted, boating is far too common, and it only takes a split-second distraction to create a dangerous situation on the water. As a result, distracted boaters regularly cause collisions when they are not focused on the task at hand.

What are Most Boat Accident Attorney Fees?

Most lawyers (including ours) handle boat accident cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not have to pay any up-front costs or hourly fees. Instead, your boat accident attorney will advance the costs of pursuing your claim, and your lawyer will only recoup these costs and collect a fee if your case is successful. Most lawyers charge similar contingency fees for handling boat accident cases, though lawyers generally don’t make their fees public. When you schedule your free initial consultation at Brais Law Firm, we will explain our fee structure in detail. If you choose our firm to represent you, we will let you know exactly how much you will take home from any settlement offers you may receive, and we will help you make an informed decision about whether to accept or keep fighting for more.

Who Will be Handling my Case?

Your case will be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney who knows what it takes to get the results you deserve. The practitioners at our firm have over 70 years of collective trial experience. Our credentials and qualifications are extensive, including an “AV” Preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell and membership in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. More importantly, we have a first-hand understanding of how insurance carriers operate because we represented clients insured with major insurance companies for nearly 20 years before we made a choice to change sides so that we could help the people who need us most – individuals just like you. Learn more.

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Cruise Ship Crew Member Injury

"I was in pain for a good 6 months, it was just a nightmare. It wasn't until I got Mr. Brais that I really started getting the help I needed from the doctors. You need somebody you can trust, somebody to give you some guidance. They stuck in there with me the whole way."

— Client

I highly recommend Brais Law Firm

"I highly recommend Brais Law Firm. Their professionalism and expertise were top notch. My slip and fall injury case involved a well known cruise ship and was nerve racking to me. They calmed all my fears and walked me through step by step. In the end they helped me obtain a favorable recovery. Look no further, call them with your Maritime case!!!"

— P.C.

Tug & Barge Crew Member Death

"I just thought he [Mr. Brais] was the man to do it. I felt comfortable with him being by my side. The pain my family has suffered has been immeasurable, but he was there with me. It’s not just him, it’s his team also. Keith really stood up for my son. I know I made the best choice."

— Client

I recommend Keith Brais

"I was in an accident where I was struck by a boat and boat propeller. The Brais Law Firm represented me in a very professional manner. I am very satisfied with the service and support I received from the firm and happy with the results they achieved. I recommend Keith Brais and his firm to anyone needing representation related to a maritime personal injury."

— M.C.

Resort Guest Injury

"As we worked with Keith, I realized what would have happened had we just selected an attorney in town…I realized that the outcome would have been probably entirely different, and not as successful as it was. I felt very comfortable going through with the whole process. I would say Keith is a superhero."

— Client

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