The Maus Law Firm Wants You to Stay Safe While Enjoying Florida’s Beaches and Waterways
With thousands of miles of shoreline and inland waterways, Florida is a boating capital of the United States. Along with operators of conventional boats in Florida, thousands take to the water each day on personal water craft (PWC), commonly known as Jet Skis or WaveRunners. If you don’t own one, stop in any town along the coast and you will not have any difficulty finding a business that will rent you one. WaveRunners and Jet Skis are fast and fun, but also extremely dangerous unless operated by an experienced operator.
Why are Jet Skis and WaveRunners Dangerous?
A PWC operates much like a motorcycle. They’re small, maneuverable, fast, and seemingly simple to use. You just climb aboard, start it and twist the throttle. The next thing you know you’re flying across the water throwing spray every time you shift your body. We have all seen them off the coast of Florida spinning endless 360 degree turns at high rates of speed. Even though they operate on the water, they are every bit as dangerous as a motorcycle when operated improperly, and probably more dangerous than a normal boat.
The danger lies in a PWC is caused by two things: operator inexperience and a small, extremely fast vessel that can turn on a dime, and accelerate like a motorcycle to speeds exceeding 65 miles per hour. Many cities have attempted to ban, or severely restrict the use the PWC’s not only because of the noise they cause, but because of the danger they create to those around them.
A University of Florida study showed that PWC accidents cause far greater injuries than other boating accidents. The study found that WaveRunner and Jet Ski riders sustain more closed-head injuries, trauma to the chest and abdominal, and broken bones than compared to riders in a boat. Because there are no seatbelts or anything else to hold down the rider, riders are usually ejected from the vehicle during a collision, going airborne into the next stationary object, whether it is the water, a steel channel marker, or another boat.
How to Safely Ride WaveRunners and Jet Skis
Joseph M. Maus, a South Florida personal injury attorney that specializes in boating accidents says the two most common causes of PWC accidents is operator inexperience, and high rates of speed. “You have to understand that just about anybody can buy or rent a boat, Jet Ski or WaveRunner capable of doing 50-60 miles per hour with literally no training on how to operate it, no knowledge of navigational markers, or how to handle the tides and seas. When you add in the fact that these WaveRunners and Jet Skis are being operated near crowded beach areas, you’ve got a recipe for disaster.”
Maus recommends several safety tips to avoid becoming a WaveRunner or Jet Ski accident victim:
- Start with reading owner’s manual so you understand the controls and features of your personal water craft
- Wear the proper safety equipment. An approved PFD life jacket Type I or Type II which will keep your head afloat in the event of an accident is a must
- Attach a whistle to your life jacket in case you need to summon help, and to alert other boat traffic.
- Never operate your personal water craft without the safety lanyard attached to you. The lanyard cuts the engine if you fall, and could save a long swim home.
- Never operate at night – its against the law
- Keep a lookout for other boats and water craft, especially sail boats. Stay at least 100 feet away.
- Do not operate your watercraft after you’ve been drinking.
- Know the water you’re operating in so you can avoid weeds, rocks, and sandbars.
- Florida law requires that Anyone under the age of 16 needs a boating safety certificate obtained by successful completion of a boating safety course, or be accompanied by someone over age 18.
Contact the Maus Law Firm After an Accident
Even if you follow all of the above protocol, a negligent rider could harm you while you’re out on the water. If you or a loved one are injured, you have every right to pursue compensation. For more information about WaveRunner and Jet Ski accidents in Florida, contact Joe Maus at the Maus Law Firm for a free consultation.