Fort Lauderdale Boating Accident Attorney for All Watercraft Accidents
Florida has more registered boat owners than any other state. Unfortunately, Florida also leads the United States in the number of serious boating accidents that occur each year. If you have been seriously injured in a collision with another vessel or any other accident on the water, you need to take appropriate action to protect your legal rights, and it is important that you speak with a Fort Lauderdale boating accident attorney promptly.
We Handle Boating Accident Claims Throughout South Florida
Based in Fort Lauderdale, our law firm handles boating accident claims throughout South Florida. While these cases frequently involve claims against negligent boat operators’ insurance companies, there are a number of other potential grounds for seeking compensation as well. Since boating accident claims can involve aspects of both Florida law and federal maritime law, they tend to be particularly complex; and, as a result, it is important that victims choose lawyers who have particular experience handling boating accidents in Florida’s inland and coastal waters.
At Maus Law Firm, our attorneys bring decades of experience to helping injured boaters and their families recover just compensation. We handle cases involving all types of accidents, including:
- Collisions with other boats
- WaveRunner, Sea-Doo and other jet ski accidents
- Scuba diving and snorkeling accidents
- Parasailing accidents
- Kite surfing and wind surfing accidents
- Water skiing and tubing accidents
- Accidents involving boating under the influence of alcohol
Along with boating under the influence, various other forms of negligence are commonly responsible for boating accidents as well. Unfortunately, far too many people take boats out onto the water without the training and experience they need to operate their vessels safely. Operator inexperience is a major factor; and, in many cases, inexperienced operators will do the exact opposite of what they are supposed to do when faced with a potentially-dangerous situation. However, Florida law makes clear that ignorance is not an excuse. If you have been injured in any type of boating accident involving any form of operator negligence, we encourage you to schedule a free initial consultation right away.
Why You May Need a Fort Lauderdale Boat Accident Lawyer
In order to avoid boat crashes, it can be helpful to understand the risks. Some of the leading causes of Florida boat accidents include:
1. Inexperienced operators
Inexperienced boat operators often cause accidents. Although some cases involve willful disregard for the safety of person or property (a first-degree misdemeanor), often inexperience leads to not following posted restrictions or misunderstanding circumstances such as the presence of a divers-down flag. Careless operation is a non-criminal infraction.
2. High Speeds
Speeding watercraft vessels are involved in many accidents. Posted speed zones labeled “Idle Speed – No Wake” require vessels to operate at minimum speeds. Operators must also be careful not to create an excessive or hazardous wake.
3. Weather conditions
It is the operator’s responsibility to monitor weather conditions at all times. Conditions can change rapidly, particularly in states like Florida. It’s important to check safety equipment, listen to the forecast, and carry a float plan at all times and beware of high winds.
4. Equipment failure
Watercraft owners must properly maintain their vessels to prevent equipment failure. Always check navigational lights in case the vessel is out after dark. Maintenance should also include carbon monoxide checks, as this deadly gas causes watercraft emergencies.
Sometimes boating accidents occur even when the operator acts responsibly. When a boating accident involves an injury, the operator is required to give notice to the FWC, county sheriff, or police chief because leaving the scene of a boating accident is illegal. You can also call a South Florida boat crash lawyer.
Common Accident Claims for Boat Passengers
Marine accidents are far more common than most people think. The most frequently reported injuries involve slipping and falling. Also, there is always a risk of diving accidents where people are swimming. Boaters that are prone to seasickness can become dizzy, which can lead to serious injuries caused by tripping or falling. Employees on cruise ships or other ocean vessels can get hurt on the job just like in any other industry. If you find yourself dealing with a personal injury, work-related injury or any other marine accident, the boat accident lawyers at the Maus Law Firm in South Florida will make sure you are fairly compensated.
Our Fort Lauderdale Boat Accident Lawyers Will Fight for Justice Against Reckless Boat Operators
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), most watercraft accidents result from operator inattention, with other lead causes including inexperience and inappropriate speed. In fact, 70 percent of all accidents since 1998 resulted from one or more of these three causes.
Operator error caused 90 percent of all accidents, with about a fourth being caused by rental operators. Half of all watercraft accidents occur in either California or Florida, which has led to changes in the law in both of those states in response.
Limits for wake-jumping, age restriction increases and other laws have been introduced, along with mandatory boat safety courses for minors. These laws have led to a reduction in the number of accidents in recent years.
The biggest risk is reckless driving of one kind or another. This might include making the watercraft airborne by crossing the wake of another vessel, operating at risky speeds (particularly near an anchored vessel or the shoreline) or following other vessels too closely.
Legal Penalties For Reckless Operators
There are legal penalties imposed when the operator of a watercraft endangers others through negligent behavior. Because of crowded waterways, it is more important than ever for operators to be courteous and careful. It is also important to keep the vessel firmly under operator control at all times, since loss of steering or control is a major contributing factor to accidents.
And it is wise to make sure that people who are operating watercraft have enough training to be able to handle it confidently, since under-trained or under-skilled operators are often the cause of accidents.
If you’ve been injured in a watercraft accident because of someone else’s reckless or negligent behavior, then it is reasonable to expect compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages and other unexpected expenses that might occur as a result.
What Should You Do After a Boating Accident in South Florida?
If you have been seriously injured (or your spouse or child has been seriously injured) in a boating accident in South Florida, what steps do you need to take in order to protect your legal rights? As soon as possible, you should:
- Seek a medical diagnosis and follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations (or seek a second opinion, if desired);
- Report the accident to your boat insurance company;
- Be sure to keep any photos, insurance information, and other records you have from the accident;
- Write down a detailed account of everything you remember about the accident; and,
- Speak with a Fort Lauderdale boating accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Claims Handled By Our Boat Accident Attorneys
Accidents that occur on the open seas are handled differently than accidents that occur on dry land. If you were hurt on a boat, on a dock, or in a shipyard, you should contact a Fort Lauderdale boat accident attorney at your earliest opportunity. You may be entitled to compensation beyond what you think you’re entitled to. At the Maus Law Firm, we have the experience handling marine accident cases that you need to protect your rights.
Recreational Boating Accidents
Recreational boating accidents can be catastrophic or deadly, and they are often caused by people operating a boat improperly. Whether someone is operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol, speeding in a no-wake zone, or otherwise behaving dangerously, they put other people’s safety at risk. If you were hurt in a recreational boating accident, talk to a marine accident attorney to learn your rights.
Cruise Ship Accidents
Cruise ship accidents have been in the news lately. While most cruise accidents aren’t attention-grabbers like the Costa Concordia shipwreck or the Carnival Triumph fire, they happen more frequently than you may think. Cruise ship litigation is also more challenging than other personal injury cases, so speak to an experienced cruise accident lawyer as soon as possible after being injured on a cruise.
Longshoremen are covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, which is similar to state workers’ comp laws. If you are unsure how to navigate the LHWCA process, speak with a Fort Lauderdale worker’s comp attorney who has experience in helping longshoremen understand and receive the benefits to which they are entitled. The job of the longshoreman is dangerous and critical to the economy. Protect your rights if you’re one of these hardworking Americans.
Commercial Fishing Accidents
Commercial fishermen are covered under the Jones Act and Federal Maritime Law. Federal Maritime Law is like workers’ comp in some ways, but different in others. If you’re a commercial fisherman injured on the job, and you don’t know whether your employer is addressing your situation properly, contact a worker’s compensation attorney. Choose a lawyer who knows how to protect commercial fishermen’s rights, like the skilled, committed attorneys at the Maus Law Firm.
5 Options for Recovering Financial Compensation After a Recreational Boating Accident in South Florida
Your options for recovering financial compensation after a recreational boating accident in South Florida depend on the specific circumstances involved. To ensure that you seek the maximum compensation available, you will need to work with an experienced boating accident attorney who is well-versed in Florida’s boating accident laws. In most cases, the options available will include:
1. Filing a Claim Against a Negligent Boater
If you were involved in a collision with a careless, drunk or otherwise negligent boater, you may be able to file a claim under the boater’s insurance policy.
2. Filing a Claim for Negligent Boat Maintenance or Repairs
If a marina, dealership, or independent company performed negligence maintenance or repairs that caused your boat (or someone else’s boat) to malfunction, then you may have a claim against the company that is to blame.
3. Filing a Claim for a Boat Defect
If you had an issue with your boat (or another boater had an issue with his or her boat) due to a design or manufacturing defect, you may have a claim against the manufacturer.
4. Filing a Claim for Negligent Entrustment
If you got hit by someone else who didn’t know what they were doing, and if that person rented their boat or was working at the time of the accident, then you could have a claim under Florida’s law of “negligent entrustment.”
5. Filing Another Type of Negligence-Based Claim
Missing navigational markers, failure to respond timely to tow requests and a wide range of other issues can also justify claims for financial compensation. As a result, regardless of what happened, you should talk to an experienced Florida boating accident lawyer about your legal rights.
Additional Options for Recovering Financial Compensation After a Work-Related Boating Accident
Following job-related boating accidents, injured workers will often be able to file for worker’s compensation benefits—in addition to filing one or more of the claims listed above. Depending on where you work and what you do for work, your options might include:
1. Filing a Florida Worker’s Compensation Claim
Employees in certain maritime occupations are eligible for standard Florida worker’s compensation benefits. If you qualify under your employer’s insurance policy, a Florida boating accident lawyer can help you seek coverage for your medical expenses, lost wages, and certain other out-of-pocket losses.
2. Filing a Jones Act or Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) Claim
The Jones Act and OCSLA are federal boating accident laws that apply specifically to employees who are injured while working offshore. Jones Act and OCSLA claims are very different, and you will need to hire an experienced attorney to determine which law applies.
3. Filing a Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) Claim
If you were injured while working at a port or marina in South Florida, then you may be eligible for benefits under the LHWCA. This is a federal law that applies specifically to employees who work in maritime occupations but not onboard vessels in navigation.
Request a Free Initial Consultation with a Fort Lauderdale Boating Accident Attorney from the Maus Law Firm
For more information about how we can make sure you receive just compensation for your boating accident injuries, please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation. To request an appointment with a Fort Lauderdale boating accident lawyer at Maus Law Firm, call 855-999-5297 or inquire online now.