Florida Boating Safety: Protecting the Rights of Injured Parties
Numerous Florida statutes have been passed to protect those who are injured in boating accidents while enjoying this state’s many lakes and coastal waterways. Both residents and tourists alike are regularly reminded by the state to always put safety first when scheduling boating activities. However, the large number of boats in Florida coupled with the large number of inexperienced operators creates the potential for a significant amount of boating accidents and injuries.
Before leaving any dock, you must first check on the competency of anyone who will be operating a boat you plan to ride in and make sure that all of the required safety equipment is both available on board and regularly used. A boat owners or operators failure to comply with these safety requirements could be the difference between an enjoyable boat ride, or a bad accident.
Here’s a quick overview of some of Florida’s boating laws:
General Florida Statutes Addressing Boating Safety
- Florida Statutes Chapter 327 (“Vessel Safety). This statute reviews such topics as forbidden driving practices, use of flotation devices and special lanyards that must be worn by boat operators and age restrictions for drivers (no one under age 14);
- The proper use of water skis, parasails and aqua planes. Standards for using various equipment and warnings about dangerous activities like speeding are noted here (and also referenced in Florida Statutes § 327.33 and 327.37);
- Boat driver’s responsibilities following collisions, accidents and casualties. Hit-and-run boating is just as actionable and wrongful as similar accidents on dry land. Obtaining medical care for injured passengers is one of the most critical duties listed;
- Requirements for boater safety identification cards for those born since 1988. Boating safety education classes are discussed regarding younger drivers. Should an older driver be in charge of your boat, directly ask if that person has voluntarily completed any boating safety education courses in recent years – and then ask to see proof of that training before ever entrusting your safety to any driver;
- Key definitions are included in the statutes regarding various types of boats, drivers and important responsibilities;
- Chapter 327 also addresses the required mental status and sobriety of those who drive on the waters. Sections 327. 35 and 327.34 address many of the boating safety requirements that drivers must uphold; and
- Boating-restricted areas are discussed in Subsection 327.46, and elsewhere.
South Florida has excellent areas for boating: Biscayne Bay, Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale, the intracoastal waterway, and inlets and waterways in Pompano Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, and West Palm Beach. All of this information should provide you with a general understanding of the many different types of Florida rules, regulations and statutes that have been passed to protect you as you pursue pleasurable boating activities in Florida.
Keep in mind that if you have personally suffered any serious injuries in a boating accident, it’s important to immediately contact a South Florida personal injury attorney so that all of your legal rights can be fully enforced, preserved and explained to you.
If you or someone you know has suffered a serious boating accident or injury, contact the Maus Law Firm to learn more about your rights. The Maus Law Firm has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and the Florida Keys, and handles accident and injury claims throughout Miami-Dade, Monroe, Collier, Lee, Broward and Palm Beach counties. You’ll need the help of an experienced South Florida boat accident attorney on your side. Call Toll Free today.