Key West Maritime Law

The Florida Keys begin at Key Largo and are part of an archipelago of about 1,700 small islands called “keys” which divide the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Beginning at the southeasternmost tip with Key West, the Keys include Big Pine Key, Duck Key, Islamorada, Key Biscayne, Long Key, Marathon, Sugarloaf, Tavernier and Key Largo closest to the mainland.  This diverse, unique and beautiful area offers some of the world’s best boating, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing.

Michelle Y. Gurian, maritime injury lawyer

Maritime Accidents are a Common Occurrence Throughout the Florida Keys

Unfortunately, with the popularity of recreational boating in the Florida Keys, accidents are also very common. Commercial maritime accidents are common as well. In fact, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) boating accident statistics, Monroe County has more boating accidents each year than any other county in Florida. Almost all of these accidents happen in the Florida Keys.

Maritime Injury Cases Should Be Handled by a Lawyer with Unique Experience and Skill Sets

Maritime lawyers, Admiralty attorneys, and maritime law firms, not surprisingly, practice their trade in and around seaports and navigable waters. Our team has over 70 years of collective trial experience, and founding attorney Keith Brais is a Florida board-certified expert in maritime law. Additionally, Keith started his career in the maritime industry as a marine engineer and holds multiple US Coast Guard marine engineer licenses. After working on offshore oil rigs for nearly 10 years, he suffered a serious injury and didn’t know his rights to compensation as a maritime worker. This led to an award-winning career in maritime injury law.  Our dedicated, client-centric team is passionate in protecting your rights after an accident left you injured or resulted in the loss of a loved one. 

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You’ll Never Feel Like “Just Another Client” to a Maritime Injury Attorney at Brais Law

If you have been hurt in a recreational or commercial boating accident, you should speak with an injury lawyer at the Brais Law Firm about your legal rights immediately. A maritime attorney on our team routinely handles boating, yachting, scuba diving personal injury and wrongful death claims as well as other maritime accident, injury, and collision cases. 

You need a local attorney who knows the local waters, but you also need an attorney who is intimately familiar with the state and federal laws that govern maritime accident claims. We have been handling accidents in the Florida Keys for decades. Our results speak for themselves, and our award-winning legal team is well known for its experience in maritime law.

It Isn’t Easy to Navigate the Intricacies of Recovering Compensation from the Party Liable for Your Boating Injury

Boater’s insurance covers accidents on the water, and in many cases, boat accident victims and their families will have claims against boat manufacturers, marinas, rental companies, outfitters and others. We can determine who is responsible for your (or your loved one’s) accident, and then fight to recover just compensation on your behalf through skillfully proving who was at fault.  If you have a claim involving a charter, tour or yacht company, we are familiar with the unique issues and challenges involved in these types of cases. We use every ounce of our collective expertise to your advantage.

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Have You Been Injured in a Maritime Accident in the Florida Keys?

We represent individuals and families in cases involving maritime accidents that occur at (or en route to) popular destinations such as:

  • Bahia Honda State Park
  • Blue Fin Rock Harbor
  • Bud ‘n’ Mary’s Marina
  • Boca Grande Key
  • Dry Tortugas National Park
  • Fiesta Key RV Resort & Marina
  • Galleon Marina
  • John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
  • Key West Bight Marina
  • Kings Kamp
  • Port of Key West
  • Seven Mile Bridge
  • Sugarloaf Marina

Regardless of where your accident happened, and regardless of whether you were on the water for work or for pleasure, we strongly encourage you to speak with an injury lawyer on our team. While you may be entitled to financial compensation, filing a successful claim is not easy, and you will want an experienced local lawyer on your side.

Florida Keys Boating Accident Statistics

The FWC publishes statistics on boating accidents in Florida each year, and each year, Monroe County ranks among the counties with the most boating accidents in the state. This is largely due to the high number of recreational and commercial boating accidents in the Florida Keys. Here are some more notable statistics on boating accidents in the Florida Keys from the FWC:

Most boating accidents in the Florida Keys involve open motorboats.

This includes fishing boats, bowriders, deck boats, jon boats, speedboats, and pontoons. Open motorboats, personal watercraft (i.e. jet skis) and cabin boats account for the next largest percentages of boating accidents in the Florida Keys.

Most boating accidents in the Florida Keys involve boats of less than 22 feet.

Well over half of all boating accidents in the Florida Keys involve small boats less than 22 feet in length. Sailboats, fishing boats, and yachts exceeding 40 feet account for just 15 percent of all local accidents.

Inattention is the leading cause of boating accidents in the Florida Keys.

According to the FWC, inattention accounts for more than twice as many accidents in the Florida Keys as any other factor. After inattention, the most common boat accident factors are:

  • Weather 
  • Operator inexperience
  • Machinery failure
  • Carelessness or recklessness
  • Alcohol or drug use.

Nearly half of all boating accidents in the Florida Keys involve collisions.

Collisions between vessels are slightly more common than collisions with fixed objects such as docks and day markers. Flooding (or swamping) is the next most common type of accident, followed by groundings and falls overboard.

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The Keys are a Popular Location for a Variety of Recreational Water Activities

People come from all over the world to boat in the Florida Keys, and many locals call the Keys home because it affords the opportunity to spend every day of their life on the water. Unfortunately, some people are more cautious at the helm than others, and some vessels are more seaworthy than others as well.

In addition to boating accidents, we also handle cases involving scuba diving and snorkeling incidents.

Sadly, these accidents often have tragic consequences, leaving victims and their families facing substantial losses.

Charter, Tour, and Yacht Owner are Responsible for the Safety of All Onboard

Charters, sightseeing tours, dinner tours, and yacht rentals are common attractions in Key West. Unfortunately, some charter and tour operators follow the rules more closely than others, and some yacht owners seem to think that the rules do not apply to them. As a result, accidents are fairly common—from slip-and-fall accidents on deck to groundings and falls overboard.

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Commercial Fishing Can Be Dangerous and Some Companies Prioritize Profit over Safety

Commercial fishing is big business in the Florida Keys, and many local businesses rely on local fishing boats to deliver a fresh catch every single day. Unfortunately, many fishermen know that commercial fishing can be dangerous, especially when fishing boat operators don’t take the necessary steps to protect their workers’ safety. Severe and fatal accidents can occur such as:

  • Getting caught in a line
  • Falling overboard
  • Hit by swinging or falling equipment
  • Crushed by heavy objects 
  • And others

We can help you file for benefits under the Jones Act. If your employer is to blame for your accident or your accident was the result of working on an unseaworthy vessel, we can seek additional compensation on your behalf.

Have You or Your Loved One been Hurt in Some Other Work-Related Maritime Accident?

We represent all types of maritime workers injured in all types of work-related accidents in the Florida Keys. This includes captains and crewmembers, longshoremen and harbor workers, tour guides, boat mechanics and cleaners, and others.

Regardless of what happened, you have legal rights if you have been injured in a work-related maritime accident.

We will do everything we can to make sure you receive just compensation.

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Negligence Aboard a Cruise Ship Can Cause a Serious Accident that is Not Your Fault

With the Port of Key West being a popular stop on many cruise liners’ routes, we handle a significant volume of cases involving cruise ship accidents. This includes:

  • Slips and trips
  • Falls overboard
  • Collisions
  • Medical malpractice onboard
  • Shore excursion incidents 
  • Violence
  • Rape and sexual assault

When cruise lines and other companies fail to protect their passengers and patrons, they deserve to be held accountable. At Brais Law Firm, we use our experience to make sure this happens. Whether you personally suffered an injury or assault onboard a cruise ship, your child or spouse was harmed or you have tragically lost a loved one, we want to help you recover.

Turn to Us after a Cruise Ship Accident in Key West

Many cruise ships also “call” on the Port of Key West. The following is a list of cruise lines and ships that currently make Key West a destination:

Carnival Line

  • Conquest
  • Destiny
  • Fantasy
  • Fascination
  • Freedom
  • Imagination
  • Triumph
  • Celebrity


  • Mercury


  • Atlantica


  • Dream
  • Magic
  • Wonder

Holland America

  • Maasdam
  • Ryndam


  • Poesia

Norwegian (NCL)

  • Perl
  • Star
  • Sun

Royal Caribbean

  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Grandeur of the Seas
  • Majesty of the Seas

Silver Seas

  • Spirit

National and International Get a Free & Confidential Consultation

Contact Us 800-499-0551
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FAQs: Filing a Maritime Accident Claim in Key West

How Do I File a Maritime Accident Claim in Key West?

Should I Talk to a Lawyer if I Was Injured on a Shore Excursion in Key West?

Do I Need a Key West Maritime Lawyer if I was Injured on the Job?

How Do I File a Maritime Accident Claim in Key West?

The steps involved in filing a maritime accident claim in Key West depend on the specific type of claim you need to file. To find out what you need to do to protect your rights, you should speak with a local attorney as soon as possible.

Should I Talk to a Lawyer if I Was Injured on a Shore Excursion in Key West?

Yes, if you were injured during a shore excursion in Key West, you should absolutely speak with a lawyer. Our lawyers have significant experience helping cruise passengers pursue claims for all types of onboard and onshore accidents.

Do I Need a Key West Maritime Lawyer if I was Injured on the Job?

Yes, if you have been injured on the job, you should consult with an attorney promptly. While you are most likely entitled to compensation, collecting this compensation won’t be easy. An experienced Key West maritime lawyer can help.

Get the Personalized Legal Protection You Deserve from a Maritime Attorney with Brais Law

The attorneys at the law firm of Brais Law Firm have the experience to protect your rights, the compassion to serve your needs, and the skill to obtain the compensation you deserve. To reach a maritime lawyer with us, click email the firm, call 800-499-0551 from within the U.S., Skype BraisLaw worldwide or click Contact Us to select and complete a form for a free evaluation of your case.

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