Boating is extremely popular in Florida. In 2022, owners registered over one million recreational boats, making it the state with the most registered recreational boats in the U.S. Whether you’re heading to Clearwater Beach or another Pinellas County, there’s always a risk of an accident. Florida has the highest number of boating accident fatalities, with 32 fatal boating accidents in 2022.
Boat operators must comply with Florida legal statutes after an accident. Boat accident attorneys can explain what vessels the state’s boating laws apply to and whether you have grounds to seek damages in a civil suit after a boating accident.
Florida’s boating laws apply to all vessels that meet the state’s definition of a vessel. They include barges, airboats, and other water vessels capable of transporting people on the water. Boating laws apply to motorized and non-motorized vessels, including yachts, sailboats, jet skis, canoes, and kayaks.
Boating accidents claimed 636 lives in the U.S. in 2022. Florida accounted for 32 fatalities, equal to 5% of all boating accident fatalities. Florida is among the states with the highest number of boating accidents annually.
Common boat accident causes include the following:
Other common causes include equipment issues. A defective motor or vessel can cause an accident, which is one of the reasons boat operators should always inspect their vessel and equipment before heading out on the water.
Accidents are an unfortunate fact of life. Someone can be liable for a boating accident if their negligence caused it. Suppose a boat operator took a group of friends out boating; however, they did not inspect their boat and failed to ensure they had flotation devices for everyone. The boat started taking on water, and two passengers ended up in the water without flotation devices and drowned. The boat operator could be liable because their negligence made the accident possible, and they failed to provide flotation devices for all passengers, which Florida boating regulations require.
Accident investigations can determine if the manufacturer’s or operator’s negligence caused or contributed to the accident.
Boating accident victims may suffer various injuries, including the following:
Boat operators must stay at the accident site and aid anyone injured in the crash. Boat operators are also required to report boat accidents if the accident meets the reporting criteria, which includes accidents involving the following:
Victims file civil lawsuits seeking financial compensation after an accident. Some victims can seek punitive damages if the factors justify an accusation of reckless conduct or gross negligence.
Economic damages are monetary damages calculated from bills stemming from your accident. Suppose you cannot care for minor children, have medical bills, and miss time off work. You can seek reimbursement for childcare costs, lost wages, and medical bills. Any expense caused by your accident can qualify under economic damages.
Other common economic damages include:
Non-economic damages are non-monetary damages focusing on how your accident affects your personal life. You can seek non-economic damages to compensate you for psychological harm and personal suffering. Suppose you develop anxiety after your accident, and you’re unable to be intimate with your partner, affecting your relationship and quality of life. You can seek compensation for anxiety, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering.
Non-economic damages may also be awarded for the following:
It’s natural to be in shock after an accident, and unless you work in the legal field, you may not be aware of your legal options. Talking to a Clearwater accident lawyer is the best way to get the answers you deserve. We’ll provide a free consultation, answer your questions, and explain your legal options.
We’ll investigate your case and gather evidence while you focus on your recovery. We’ll handle settlement negotiations with the at-fault party and fight for fair compensation for your boating accident injury.
Boating Regulations. (2023).
Key Boating Accident Statistics. (2023).
Schwanemann, K. (2023). Florida leads the nation in recreational boats. See which county had the most registered boats.