Florida Boating Enthusiast and Attorney, Joe Maus, Discusses Florida Boat Accidents
Another boat accident in Miami occurred last night near Star Island. Two boats collided off Star Island near Miami Beach, with one person being ejected from one of the boats. The man was apparently found by Miami Dade Fire Rescue divers and taken to Ryder Trauma Center.
Boat Accidents in Miami are Too Common
Fatal Miami boat accidents are occurring more frequently in the last few years, with most of the fatal accidents occurring at night. Florida Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two friends died in a Miami boat accident in 2016, and another Miami boat accident occurred in 2019 when a boat ran into the Government Cut jetty killing three people. In fact, Florida leads the country in boat accidents with almost 12% of the country’s boating accidents occurring in Florida.
Causes of Florida Boat Accidents
- High speed
- Driver inexperience/inattention
- Defective safety equipment/lighting
- Nighttime operation
Unlike other areas in Florida, Miami has miles of open waterways without “slow speed” restrictions. And because of the width of the Intracoastal Waterway in Miami, you can have boats on plane, i.e. going fast, traveling north-south, and east west, crossing paths at high rates of speed. Safe operation of a boat is complicated when running fast at night. It is extremely difficult to judge a boat’s direction or speed at night.
How to Prepare for Your Florida Boat Accident Claim
To fully investigate a boat accident claim, there are many steps to be taken as quickly as possible:
- Preserve evidence – because of the fatality involved in last night’s boating accident, one of the investigating law enforcement agencies will most likely take possession of the boats. However, it is critical to preserve the boats involved to determine the type and force of impact involved, how the accident occurred, and the conditions of the boats and required safety equipment. GPS instruments can also play a critical part in an investigation. Marine GPS units typically track a boat’s path and speed.
- Locate Witnesses – usually law enforcement agencies are not the first persons on site at a boat accident. There are usually witnesses to the accident, or persons that come to the accident site immediately after the accident that can provide valuable information as to how the accident occurred.
- Determine jurisdiction – jurisdiction is a legal term for where the claim can be brought. Accidents that occur on public waterways in Florida usually fall under Federal Maritime Laws, which are usually brought in Federal Court.
- Obtain Law Enforcement Reports/Statements – Florida boating accidents are unique in that several law enforcement agencies may investigate the same accident. The Miami boat accident last night appears to have been investigated by the Coast Guard, Miami Beach Fire Rescue, and Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC). In addition, Florida Marine Patrol and the Miami Beach Marine Patrol could have been involved. Each agency may undertake a different aspect of the investigation, or take possession of evidence, so it is critical to determine which agencies were involved, and obtain their investigation reports.
Get Help For Your Accident Claim with a Top South Florida Boating Accident Attorney Who Enjoys the Hobby as Much as You Do
The lawyers at the Maus Law Firm have more than 60 years combined experience in litigating claims throughout Florida. Mr. Maus learned boating laws from the best – his father who was a Coast Guard boating instructor in South Florida. Mr. Maus has operated boats for the past 45 years in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, the Keys, and the Bahamas, and is extremely familiar with Florida’s boating laws and regulations. Contact the Maus Law Firm for a free consultation.