What is My Liability After a Boating Accident in Florida?

boating accident and personal injuryDo you enjoy the beach, ocean, sailing, or even snorkeling? Millions of people flock to Florida each year to enjoy miles of pristine beaches and to explore coral reefs, fish and engage in other fun activities on the water. Unfortunately, the widespread use of marine vessels is responsible for hundreds of accidents each year. In Florida alone, more than 700 boating accidents took place in 2017. These types of accidents often lead to severe injuries and death.

Drowning is one of the top results of a boating accident, but many types of painful and severe injuries are possible. If you’ve sustained an injury from a boating incident, you have the right to contact a boat injury lawyer for guidance on pursuing compensation for your losses. But, you might be wondering if you may be partially liable for the accident? Or, if you lose your right to hold the operator of a vessel accountable because you signed a liability waiver? That depends.

What meets the criteria for a boating accident?

The number of boating accidents reported each year may be a portion of the total number of incidents that occur on the water. Likely, many boating accidents are minor and fail to result in injuries or property damage. Reportable accidents must meet the following criteria:

  • A person must have died
  • A person must have disappeared
  • A person sustains an injury requiring more than first aid
  • The boat is totaled
  • There is at least $2,000 worth of property damage to the boat

What are some causes of boating accidents in Florida?

The state of Florida has some of the highest rates of boating accidents simply because it has the most registered boats in the country. Boating accidents can occur in many different ways; however, most serious collisions are due to human error and could have been prevented. Some of the most common reasons a boat crashes are:

  • Inattentiveness of the operator
  • Failure to instruct or supervise
  • Faulty safety equipment
  • Boating under the influence
  • Improperly maintained vessel
  • Improper training
  • Speeding
  • Boating in rough seas
  • Boating in poor visibility

Believe it or not, boats crashing into each other and causing significant damage to life and property are common. These types of crashes are more likely to occur in the summer when waterways are crowded. If you’re injured in this type of crash, and you were maneuvering your own boat, your lawyer will look into the actions of all parties leading up to the crash to determine liability. 

Am I Liable for a Boating Accident If I Got Hurt?

Liability in a boating accident is based on negligence. A party is considered negligent when they fail to abide by the standard of care and act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances, causing harm to another party. As the plaintiff (injured party) in a boat accident claim, you must show that the operator of the boat you were on failed to drive the boat in a reasonably safe manner, and that his failure to do so directly caused the accident that led to your injury.

Any conduct that a reasonable person would have avoided might be taken into consideration. This can include taking the boat out during bad weather, turning into a wave the wrong way, speeding, failing to keep safety equipment on board (life jackets, flare guns, fire extinguishers, whistles, live preservers, first aid), and more.

Can I Recover Compensation for Boat Accident Injuries if I Signed a Liability Waiver?

Thousands of people who visit Florida book a journey on a boat each year. Whether they sign up for a fishing trip or an airboat ride, many people who become hurt in a boating accident do not own or operate the vessel they get injured on. In these instances, it’s common for companies to require passengers to sign liability waivers so they may avoid lawsuits if someone gets hurt; however, these waivers must clearly inform passengers of the rights they’re waiving when they sign.

Although the courts generally disfavor liability waivers, they’re enforceable so long as they:

  1. Clearly state what rights the passenger is waiving, including the right to sue for negligence; and,
  2. Describe the terms of the agreement in such a way that an ordinary, knowledgeable person would be able to understand them.

Lawyers may defeat liability waivers in Florida so long as they can be shown to be ambiguous. Signing these waivers does not make it impossible to recover compensation for injuries; however, it does make the case much more difficult to win.

Orlando Boating Accident Lawyers At Your Service

If you were recently hurt in a boating accident near Orlando, it’s possible to recover damages for pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and more with a dedicated personal injury team supporting you. Even if you signed a liability waiver, you’re encouraged to discuss your case with the qualified attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm. Call 407-228-3838 or complete our contact form for a free consultation to learn the value of your boating accident claim.