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Keith BraisPersonal Watercraft Accidents 

Our Florida personal watercraft and jet ski accident lawyers have significant experience representing accident victims. Florida has more boating accidents than any other state. Personal watercraft and Jet Ski accidents are most commonly caused by speeding, failing to look ahead, minimal instruction on how to properly operate the craft, misunderstanding sea conditions, alcohol or drug use, and not following safety laws. Since Personal Watercraft and Jet Ski riders are so close to the water and generally exposed, they are extremely vulnerable to injury or death during an accident. This is why it is so important for riders to understand boating laws, take boating courses, wear highly visible clothing, operate at a safe speed, not ride in heavy seas, not ride with a drunken operator, and above all, wear a life jacket.

Most accident victims rent personal watercraft or Jet Skis from concessionaires while on vacation. Many of these concessionaires give little or no instructions to renters before letting them drive away. This deprives riders of the necessary knowledge on how to act properly in an emergency situation. Such negligent entrustment is a significant cause of personal watercraft and Jet Ski accidents in Florida. Oftentimes these concessionaries attempt to avoid liability by invoking a little-known Federal statute called the Ship Owners’ Limitation of Liability Act. Our lawyers are very familiar with these tactics and have been successful in convincing a court not to apply the Act.

Turn to Our Experienced Miami Jet Ski Accident Lawyer 

Our Firm’s Florida Board Certified Maritime Lawyers understand personal watercraft and Jet Ski litigation and routinely handle personal watercraft and Jet Ski accidents involving:

  • Collisions
  • Groundings
  • Unsafe operation
  • Speeding
  • Negligent Supervision & Entrustment
  • Drugs & Alcohol

Compensation for injuries involving personal watercraft and Jet Ski accidents varies. However, typical damages are for pain and suffering, payment of medical bills, and lost wages while recuperating. If the injuries are very serious, additional damages such as future pain and suffering, future medical expenses, and future lost wages can be obtained. Each case is different and we recommend you contact a jet ski accident attorney experienced with personal watercraft accidents to advise you of your rights.

How (and Why) Jet Ski Accidents Happen

Operator error and improper maintenance are among the most common causes of jet ski accidents. This is a fact our jet ski accident lawyer knows all too well. Understanding why this is the case requires an understanding of the jet ski itself.

Jet Ski accidents

Common Issues with Jet Ski Components

While different manufacturers design their jet skis differently, all-jet skis have the same basic functional components:

  • Engine – The vast majority of jet skis have internal combustion engines that burn gas to produce horsepower. But, jet ski engines are unique from the engines used in other watercraft, and they are designed specifically to rev high so that they can go fast. If a mechanic isn’t familiar with jet ski engines, or a rider doesn’t know what to expect when he or she twists the throttle, this can quickly lead to a dangerous situation.
  • Intake Grate – The intake grate is an opening on the bottom of a jet ski that takes in water so that it can be moved through the impeller. This makes jet skis operate differently from watercraft that have propeller engines. Jet skis can accelerate much more quickly, and this makes them much more dangerous—especially for inexperienced riders.
  • Impeller – The impeller provides thrust for a jet ski using the power of the engine. Water moves through the intake grate and then passes through the impeller, which forces the water out of the back of the jet ski—thrusting the ski forward. If an impeller is not properly maintained, it can seize or cause the jet ski to operate in an unexpected way, potentially causing the rider to lose control.  
  • Drive Shaft – The driveshaft connects the engine to the impeller. Like the engine and impeller themselves, a jet ski’s driveshaft requires routine maintenance. Issues related to jet ski driveshafts are often to blame for sudden and unexpected accidents.
  • Steering Nozzle – The steering nozzle is located at the back of a jet ski, behind the impeller. The impeller thrusts water through the steering nozzle; and, when a rider turns the handlebars, the steering nozzle turns in sync. If a rider turns too sharply, if a steering nozzle gets stuck, or if any of a variety of other issues arise, this can throw the rider off or leave the rider without any control over the direction of their ski.
  • Electronics – Modern jet skis are “drive by wire,” similar to most modern cars. This means that they rely on electronics to send signals from the handlebars to the engine and steering nozzle. If a jet ski’s electronics fail due to inadequate maintenance (or any other issue), this can also lead to a sudden and unexpected loss of control.

Issues with all of these components have the potential to cause (or contribute to causing) jet ski accidents. Likewise, individuals who are unfamiliar with how jet skis operate present risks to themselves and others if they don’t take the time to learn before hitting the water. There is also a possibility for these components to be defective when a jet ski leaves the factory; and, in this scenario, a jet ski accident lawyer may be able to pursue a claim against the manufacturer.

Liability for Jet Ski Operator Negligence

Of course, even if a jet ski has been properly manufactured and maintained, there is nothing to stop its rider from making a bad decision. From operating a jet ski with inadequate training and experience to operating a jet ski under the influence of alcohol, there are numerous types of operating mistakes that can lead to serious and fatal accidents.

When a rider causes a jet ski accident, the rider is legally responsible. But, the rider might not be the only party that is liable. For example, jet ski rental companies and private owners who let others use their jet skis can be held liable for “negligent entrustment” in some cases. When you hire an experienced jet ski accident lawyer to represent you, he or she will evaluate all potential sources of financial recovery and pursue all available claims on your behalf.

 Can I Sue Sea-Doo, Kawasaki, or Yamaha for my jet ski accident?

Whether you can sue Sea-Doo, Kawasaki, or Yamaha for your jet ski accident depends on why the accident happened. To sue your jet ski’s manufacturer, you need proof that the accident happened because of a defect. A defect is an issue that existed when the jet ski left the factory—whether due to a flaw in the jet ski’s design or a flaw in the manufacturing process. When we investigate your accident, we will thoroughly inspect the jet ski to determine if you have a defect claim against the jet ski’s manufacturer.

Can I sue the rental company for my jet ski accident?

Whether you can sue the rental company also depends on the cause of your accident. Rental companies can face liability in two primary scenarios—either: (i) they fail to conduct adequate maintenance on their jet skis; or, (ii) they rent a jet ski to a dangerous rider. If you rented a poorly-maintained jet ski, or if you got hit by a novice rider who shouldn’t have been given the key to a jet ski, you could have a claim against the rental company.

How do you prove fault in a jet ski accident?

Proving fault in a jet ski accident requires a thorough investigation. But, collecting evidence on the water presents some particular challenges. As a result, if you believe you may have a jet ski accident claim, you should engage a law firm to conduct an investigation right away.

Can I hire a jet ski accident lawyer on contingency?

Yes, our jet ski accident attorneys handle all cases on a contingency-fee basis. When you choose Brais Law Firm to represent you, your initial consultation is free, you do not pay anything upfront, and you do not pay anything at all unless we help you recover just compensation. 

How is “Personal Watercraft” Defined in Terms of Lawsuits and Insurance Claims? 

When you have experienced an injury while riding a jet ski or other watercraft that is operated solely by you, you might wonder whether or not relevant personal watercraft (PWC) definitions apply. Whether you are on a boating vessel or a PWC will determine the obligations you are owed by the owner of the vessel or PWC and what options are available to you to collect damages if you are injured. A PWC is defined as a vessel that you sit, kneel, stand, or lay “on,” as opposed to “in.” 

Common injuries to recreation seekers on the water include jet skis and waverunners, both of which are PWCs, and both of which are required to abide by all local, state, and federal laws. While boating vessels sometimes follow other maritime laws and acts, when you are on a PWC, local and state laws and courts can be used to obtain complete compensation for your injuries.  

The Most Popular Types of Personal Watercrafts (PWCs) 

There are 3 main types of PWCs, the first being the sit-on style, which has been popularized by various brands of jet skis or waverunners. This type of PWC can generally carry two or more people and sometimes has the ability to tow a skier or tuber. All individuals engaging in the activity are considered to be enjoying a PWC, and resulting injuries will have local and state laws applied. 

The second most popular type of PWC is the stand-up style, which some models of folding jet skis have in addition to a variety of other PWCs. This style of PWC can be knelt on and is generally not designed for towing a skier or tuber behind it. 

The third most popular style of personal watercraft is the lay-on style. While less common than the first two, this style of PWC holds only one rider, and cannot tow skiers or tubers. 

The Ship Owners’ Limitation of Liability Act and Avoiding Liability 

Collecting compensation for your personal watercraft injuries requires that you prove another party was negligent or reckless, and because of this, the accident happened that caused your injuries and related damages. Injured individuals should be aware that a common defense that is made on behalf of ship owners when their guests are injured on PWCs is the Ship Owner’s Limitation of Liability Act. Under this Act, the liability of the vessel owner may be limited, which means that you might not be able to collect complete compensation for your damages, leaving you and your family to cover the difference out of your household budget. 

The maritime attorneys at Brais Law have over 70 years of combined trial experience, and we know how to battle against the application of the Ship Owner’s Limitation of Liability Act to ensure that you are able to collect the full compensation you deserve.

Contact a Miami Jet Ski Accident Lawyers Today 

The Florida personal watercraft and jet ski accident lawyers of 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 our lawyers, you may email the firm, call 800-499-0551 from within the U.S., Skype BraisLaw worldwide, or Contact Us to select and complete a form for a free evaluation of your case. We help Florida clients in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Key West, and more. 

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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.

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Awesome team of legal professionals!! I can't thank Mr. Brais and his team enough for helping me through the worst experience of my life. Had it not been for their dedication to seeing things through. I would be in a very bad place. I highly recommend Brais Law firm.

R.C.

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