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Palm Coast Boating Accident Attorney

overturned sailboat in the water

Palm Coast Boating Accident Attorney

Florida’s waterways, lakes and bays provide recreation and enjoyment for many boaters. However, when inexperienced or negligent boaters are on the water, they can cause boating accidents, resulting in serious injuries and deaths. Unfortunately, Florida leads the nation in boating accidents, according to the latest U.S. Coast Guard report.

Boating collisions can leave accident victims with devastating injuries or leave families struggling financially after the loss of a loved one who helped support the household.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a boating accident caused by someone else in Flagler County or Volusia County, you should contact an experienced boat accident lawyer at Chiumento, Dwyer, Hertel, Grant. Our law firm has offices in Palm Coast and Ormond Beach. Our maritime law attorneys understand the unique legal issues posed by boating accidents in coastal Florida and are ready to help boating accident victims seek just compensation for their injuries and losses.

Common Causes of Boating Accidents

All Florida boaters have a responsibility to keep a sharp lookout, maintain a safe speed, keep a safe distance from other vessels and take actions to avoid a collision. No boater should operate a watercraft in a careless or reckless manner that endangers others. When they do so, they should be held accountable for the harm they cause. There are numerous ways that a boating accident may occur.

A report by the U.S. Coast Guard pinpointed five primary causes of boat accidents:

  • Operator inattention
  • Careless boat operation
  • Excessive speed
  • Alcohol and impaired boating
  • Passenger or skier behavior

Florida requires individuals born after 9/30/1988 to complete a boater safety course and have a boat safety education I.D. card before operating a vessel powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or more. Boat owners and operators are required to have onboard a Coast Guard-approved life jacket of the proper size for each person on board the boat. Vessels of 16 feet or longer must also have a throwable personal flotation device onboard.

No one under 14 years old may operate a personal watercraft such as a jet ski on Florida waters at any time.

Types of Boating Accident Cases We Handle

Florida leads the nation with more than 900,000 registered boats and vessels, and another 1 million boats use Florida waters. A large number of boats increase the likelihood of boating accidents.

A collision with another boat or watercraft is the most common type of boat accident. Collisions are often caused by inattentive or inexperienced boat operators who fail to give way or take action to avoid a collision.

Many deaths in boating accidents are caused by victims falling overboard or being thrown overboard in a collision and drowning. Many of these fatalities could have been prevented if the drowning victim had been wearing a life jacket.

The leading types of boating accidents in order of frequency include:

  • Collision with another boat or recreational vehicle
  • Collision with a fixed object
  • Flooding or swamped boat
  • Falls overboard
  • Running aground
  • Fire
  • Capsizing
  • Fall in boat
  • Struck underwater object
  • Struck by propeller

Many people consume alcohol while boating and spending time on the water. Intoxication is a leading contributing factor in boating accidents. Intoxicated boaters are as dangerous on the waterways as drunk drivers are on the highways of Florida. Alcohol was listed as the primary factor in one of every five boating accident deaths, the Coast Guard reports.

2018 Florida Recreational Boating Accident Statistics

  • 607 Boating Accidents
  • 57 Boating Accident Deaths
  • 297 Boating Accident Injuries
  • 32% of boat accident fatalities involved falls overboard
  • 919,000 registered recreational vessels in Florida
  • 27,536 registered recreational vessels in Volusia County
  • 10th Place-Volusia County ranked in the top 10 among Florida counties in boating accidents
  • 5,835 registered recreational vessels in Flagler County

Source: Florida Wildlife Commission – 2018 Reportable Boating Accidents

How to Determine Fault in a Boating Accident

Florida law states that it is unlawful to operate a boat in a dangerous or reckless manner. Boat operators are required to use the care necessary to avoid endangering anyone or their boat.

A boat operator who disregards Florida boating safety regulations and fails to follow navigation rules may be cited by law enforcement for reckless operation of a boat. In addition to the charges, the reckless boater also may have civil liability for causing a boating accident.

A boat operator who operates a boat at an excessive speed or a speed that is not prudent for the weather conditions, wake restrictions or boat traffic may be found to be at fault.

A boat operator who operates a boat in an area that is off-limits to watercraft may be found to be at fault.

Boating accidents can be complicated and involve Florida law or federal maritime law, depending on the type of boat and where the accident occurs. Our experienced Ormond Beach maritime accident attorneys will conduct a detailed investigation of your boat accident and identify the potentially liable parties.

We will identify all the insurance coverage available to cover your injuries and prepare a demand letter for full compensation.

What to Do After Being Involved in a Boating Accident

Whether you are on a Florida lake, a river, a bay or an inland waterway, you have certain legal responsibilities if you are involved in a boating accident. You should stop your boat immediately at the scene of the accident.

The operator of a boat involved in a boating accident that causes injury requiring more than simple first aid, disappearance, death or property damage of more than $2,000 is required to notify the county sheriff’s office, the local police or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as quickly as possible.

You must provide aide to anyone who is injured and rescue them from immediate danger.

Take photos of the accident scene and your injuries if you have a phone camera and are able to do so. Photos can be used as evidence to support a boating injury claim.

Get the names and contact information of any witnesses.

Have a knowledgeable boating accident lawyer review the accident as soon as possible and explain your legal options. You can make better-informed decisions after understanding whether you have a valid boating accident injury claim.

Compensation for Injuries After a Boating Accident

If you are injured in a boating accident and have serious injuries, you may need to seek compensation from the at-fault boater who caused the accident. This can be challenging, and having an experienced personal injury lawyer representing you can make all the difference.

In Florida, liability insurance is recommended but not required for boat owners and operators. That can be a complicating factor in pursuing compensation after a boat accident.

An experienced Ormond Beach boat accident attorney at Chiumento, Dwyer, Hertel, Grant will investigate to determine whether the owner of the boat who caused the accident or the business that rented the boat, if it was a rental watercraft, had liability insurance. For example, rented personal watercraft accounted for 45% of all watercraft involved in accidents, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife. In some cases, a watercraft rental business may be liable for an accident by negligently entrusting a watercraft to someone who lacks the training to operate the watercraft.

The types of compensation typically sought after a boating accident lawsuit include:

  • Doctor and hospital bills
  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Property damage

A full-service law firm, Chiumento, Dwyer, Hertel, Grant has the experienced personal injury attorneys to investigate your boating accident and seek full compensation after an accident. Clients turn to Chiumento, Dwyer, Hertel, Grant for help because we have been practicing law in Palm Coast for 40 years and helping people injured in boating accidents and other types of personal injury accidents.

If another boater’s carelessness or disregard for safety caused you or a loved one’s injury, you may be entitled to seek compensation. Let our Palm Coast boating injury attorneys help you pursue the full compensation allowed by law to cover your injuries and related losses.

If you would like to hear more about how we can help, contact a maritime law attorney at Chiumento, Dwyer, Hertel, Grant to schedule an initial case review.

We’re Proud to be Involved in the Community

Chiumento Dwyer Hertel Grant has contributed to schools and other organizations that have made a difference in the community and take pride in portraying an active role in our community. Flagler and Volusia Counties hosts an array of events and we are proud to be a part of many of them!

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