Florida’s inland and coastal waterways offer some of the best yacht and pleasure boat opportunities in the world. Having previously represented yacht and pleasure boat owners by the appointment of marine insurance companies for 19 years, the board-certified maritime attorneys at the law firm of Brais Law Firm are in a unique position to help guests of yacht and pleasure boat accidents resulting in personal injury or death. The lawyers at the law firm of Brais Law Firm with offices in Miami, Florida and Boston, Massachusetts are here to help guests of yacht and pleasure boat collisions.
Good or bad, our waterways are becoming more and more crowded and numerous yacht and pleasure boat accidents occur each year with guests suffering personal injury or even death. This problem is not unique to Florida. Texas, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have similar boating accidents particularly in the busier months of the year.
Yacht and pleasure boating accidents occur largely because people underestimate the dangers of boats as compared to cars. Powerboats such as runabouts, cabin cruisers and jet skis are the most common watercraft involved in boating accidents, although sailboats can be involved in accidents as well. Accidents can occur in a number of ways. An operator may be:
- Going too fast,
- Not paying attention,
- Causing a large wake,
- Unfamiliar with the water depths,
- Not qualified to operate the watercraft,
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or
- Unknowing of what to do in a particular situation.
Depending upon the circumstances, one or multiple yacht and pleasure boat owners/operators may be responsible for the resulting injury or death of an onboard guest or occupants of the other vessel. If you or a loved one was injured, or worse, due to the negligent operation of a yacht, pleasure boat or vessel, you may be able to seek recourse against the offending vessel’s owner, operator and the responsible insurance carrier.
The standard of care owed to a guest depends upon where the accident occurred. If the accident occurred on “non-navigable waters” (i.e., lakes, bayous and swamps with no access to the ocean) the owner and operator must, at least under Florida law, “exercise the highest degree of care in order to prevent injuries to others.”
A different standard is applied to accidents occurring on navigable waters (i.e., the ocean, gulf, bays and rivers). The owner and operator of a vessel on navigable waters owe all guests who come aboard the duty to use reasonable care under the circumstances. This imposes the obligation on the owner and operator to act in the same manner as a reasonably prudent owner and operator under the same conditions.
An owner is also liable for injuries resulting from the negligent entrustment of the vessel. This means that a claim exists against the vessel owner if you or a loved one is hurt due to the operation of a watercraft by a person who should not have been at the wheel. A negligent entrustment situation routinely arises when the vessel is entrusted to:
- People who do not have enough experience to operate the watercraft;
- People who are not emotionally mature or responsible enough (such as children or young adults) to operate watercraft and,
- People who are drunk or impaired due to drugs.
The duty to entrust a vessel to a capable operator applies no matter if the accident occurred on non-navigable or navigable waters.
If you are injured on a yacht or recreational boat you are entitled to a wide range of damages including payment of medical bills, lost wages, loss of the enjoyment of life as well as pain and suffering. Damages for wrongful deaths arising from the negligent operation or entrustment of the watercraft depend upon where the death occurred (state, federal or international waters). For a discussion on wrongful death claims and associated damages please click Wrongful Death Claims.
If you were injured on non-navigable waters, state law governs the deadline for which you must bring your lawsuit. If, however, the accident occurred on “navigable waters”, federal law requires suit to be brought within three (3) years.
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 our lawyers you may 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.