In South Florida, boating is one of the most popular pastimes and countless people take to the waters every weekend to enjoy the beautiful blue waters and sandy shorelines. 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. But things don’t always turn out for the best. In fact, Florida has more boating accidents and fatalities than any other state in the nation. The 4th of July is a prime time to enjoy boating, and the Maus Law Firm wants to help you stay safe on the water.
The Most Frequent Causes of Boating Accidents
There are many reasons why a boating trip can turn bad. However, the most common cause of serious accident is operator error. The driver of your boat, or of another, may be under the influence while operating the vessel, or your boat could collide with another. A boat could crash into you while you’re operating a Jetski or Waverunner, or there could be a mishap as you’re parasailing, tubing, waterskiing, wind surfing or kite surfing. You could be injured while scuba diving or snorkeling, or the accident could occur because of recklessness or an inexperienced or unsupervised driver. Whatever the cause, if you’ve been injured in a boat accident, you need legal representation.
Florida Laws to Keep Boaters Safe
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.
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 owner’s or operator’s failure to comply with these safety requirements could be the difference between an enjoyable boat ride, or a serious boating accident.
Here’s a quick overview of some of Florida’s boating laws:
- 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;
- 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 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.
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.
After an Accident, You Need an Attorney with Experience in Boat Accident Claims
Unfortunately, you may stay safe on the water but another boater may not. If you sustain injuries or damage to your boat, you should hire a Fort Lauderdale boating accident law firm. Attorneys that deal with boat accidents need specialized knowledge that is necessary to be successful in this type of case. For instance, they’ll need to be able to determine which jurisdiction the accident took place in as that will determine which navigational laws apply. If an attorney isn’t well versed in Florida law and Federal Maritime Law, they won’t likely be able to win your case. At the Maus Law Firm, we make it our business to not only know these laws, but to stay up to date on them so we can be victorious in the boating accident cases we take.
But we take it even one step further. We know the waters of South Florida because we that’s where we spend our free time. We understand the reef patterns, know the waterways and pay attention to how and when the tide comes and goes. These details give us an edge when we are representing someone on a boat accident lawsuit.
We’ll Help You Get on With Your Life
If you’ve been in a boat accident and need someone to fight your case for you, call us today. We’re experts on the waterway laws and can talk to you about your standing for a lawsuit. Don’t let your injuries rob you of your future, but call us and let us help you as we’ve helped thousands of other South Florida residents. Give us a call today!