The United States of America is a big nation, and its state of Florida is loved by people worldwide for its pleasant weather all year long. Many tourists and locals use ocean access and go boating in the inland waterways. It offers a nice escape from the heat, but boating accidents often occur. Working with a reputable boating accident lawyer is a must if anyone is seriously injured or hurt in a boat accident.
You or any of your loved ones can plan to go boating in St. Petersburg or any other Florida city. However, taking proper precautions is essential to avoid fatal, life-threatening injuries. The victim must prove the defendant boater’s negligence with adequate evidence to receive financial compensation for injuries, pain, and suffering.
Statistics Related to Boat Accidents
Florida has multiple lakes, beaches, bays, and other waterways, which lead to a high number of boat registrations every year. As the number of boat increases, the accidents also go up with them. Florida sees more boating accidents than any other state in the United States.
The USCG or United States Coast Guard stated that there were 4290 boat accidents in a single year. These accidents led to more than 2500 injuries, 650 deaths, and over $45 million in property damages. Most of these accidents are preventable and end up causing fatal injuries to victims.
Whether you pick up a mild or a severe injury during a boat accident, you must get in touch with a boating accident lawyer in St. Petersburg to help with your personal injury claim. This will help you gather evidence, avoid errors in the legal process, and receive the money you need to live an everyday life again.
Boaters Owe Duty of Care
Whenever a person takes control of any motor vehicle, including boats, it automatically becomes his duty to protect anyone he encounters while driving the vehicle. This duty of care is similar to that taken by road motorists. It is the boater’s duty to prevent any accident from happening and injuring anyone.
Apart from captaining other water vehicles or boats, the boater also has to protect passengers, swimmers, jet skiers, surfers, kayakers, canoers, etc. No one is exempt from the duty of care, and if anyone rides a boat, he has to fulfill this duty once he drives the boat away from the dock.
Most Common Boat Accidents in St. Petersburg
If you want to file an injury claim successfully, it is better to know about the common boating accidents that occur. This will help illustrate the accident and prove the faulty party’s negligence.
1. Collision with a Boat
When two boats collide with each other, the operators of both boats are at fault partly for it. People injured on both boats can file a case against both the boat operators in this case. If only one operator is injured, he can file a case against the other boat’s operator. However, this is possible only if the injured boat operator is responsible for less than half of the collision.
If a motorboat collides with a sailboat, the motorboat will more likely be responsible. Safe boating guidelines suggest that motorboats stay away from a sailboat’s path.
2. Hitting a Boat’s Wake
In a situation where a boat collides with awake, the impact can knock down passengers or even throw them off their seats into the water. State and federal boating laws suggest that an operator must look for any dangers or hazards to the passengers or the boat. However, proving liability is not easy in such situations.
The boat operator’s liability depends on things like the wake’s size, visibility levels, the speed of the boat, boat traffic, and if the operator warned the passengers about the approaching wake. The boat operator who created the wake can also be liable. Wakes are made in a no-wake zone or a large wake in a crowded area; therfore, the boat operator is at fault.
3. Collision with Land, Rocks, or Submerged Objects
Even during excellent visibility and good weather, a boat can hit a submerged object. Boats often hit the coastline or a jetty due to poor visibility and bad weather. If the boat operator has nautical charts and moves slowly, he will not be at fault for hitting a rock. The operator will be liable for hitting an object if he is moving at high speed without GPS or nautical charts.
4. Hitting Water Waves
No other boats are responsible if a boat hits a wave. In such cases, various circumstances determine whether the boat operator was negligent or not.
Apart from the above main types, boat accidents also include:
- Passengers falling inside the boat or overboard
- Explosions or fuel fires
In addition, if any boating accident does not involve any of the above happenings, victims can still receive a financial settlement for their injuries. Do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney in St. Petersburg. He can analyze your situation and come up with the best way possible for you to receive your entitled compensation.
What Causes Boating Accidents in St. Petersburg?
If a boat driver is reckless or negligent, he puts the passengers, people around him, and his own life in danger. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission states that inattention is the most common reason behind boating accidents. Here are the reasons which often lead to boat accidents in St. Petersburg:
- Operators do not pay proper attention to the surroundings while driving a boat. This leads to the collision of boats with other boats, coastlines, sailboats, etc. It is vital to pay attention, especially during times of bad weather and visibility.
- If the operator is reckless or careless while driving the boat, it can cause an accident anytime.
- Driving at high speeds is a significant reason behind boat accidents. Boat operators should move at a reasonable speed and keep the speed low if it is a high traffic area.
- Operating the boat under the influence of banned drugs or alcohol in St. Petersburg is another primary reason behind boat accidents. No person should drive any type of motor vehicle when drunk or intoxicated.
- A lack of proper training, knowledge, or experience in riding a boat leads to serious accidents. No inexperienced operator should be given control of a boat.
- Driving a boat very close to other boats, jet skis, canoes, surfers, swimmers, etc., often results in accidents. Boat operators should keep a proper distance, especially in high traffic areas.
- The lack of safety equipment does not lead to an accident, but it hampers the rescue or treatment process if something happens. Fire extinguishers, throwable life rings, jackets, flares, navigation lights, whistles, etc., are a must. Boat owners in St. Petersburg can be held negligent if there is no safety equipment on a boat.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Boating Accidents?
A boat accident in St. Petersburg can fall under maritime laws or state laws. You can take a boat accident injury case to court, but you must prove the responsible party’s fault. Let’s see who all can be held liable for the accident.
Boat Operator and Owner
The boat operator has a duty of care and is responsible for the passengers’ safety in St. Petersburg. If a boat operator is inattentive, reckless, or breaks boating rules, he will be liable for any injuries to the passengers. Some boat owners have policies covering any injuries occurring on the boat, provided the boat is at the insured property.
Boat owners even buy riders on their insurance policy which covers injuries occurring while the boat is moving. Some boat owners even have policies covering injuries to passengers, people around, and themselves.
If you are the victim of an accident in St. Petersburg, be sure to ask the boat owner for his insurance information. In addition, if another boat caused the accident, you can file claims against both boat owners and operators.
Commercial Boat Companies
Cruises, charter boats, or other commercial boats have specific policies with limits higher than typical policies. Your boating accident lawyer will help if the insurance company tells you that you signed a liability waiver. It is possible that the waivers don’t apply to your particular accident. No one agrees to ride on an unsafe boat without experienced, sober operators.
Watercraft Manufacturers and Safety Gear Providers
If a product failure or manufacturing defect causes a boating accident in St. Petersburg, you can file a claim against the safety equipment provider or boat manufacturer. Failing to warn regarding dangerous situations, flaws in the design, manufacturing issues, etc., can lead to liabilities. The manufacturer can be liable as its product did not perform as advertised and led to accidents.
Evidence For Supporting Your Boat Accident Injury Claim
When you file an injury claim, you must prove that the boat owner or operator was negligent and did not perform their duty of care. You need the correct evidence to prove your injuries and that the operator’s negligence led to the accident. Support your claim through these:
Photos and Videos –
Click pictures of the damaged boat, operator, the place of impact, spilled blood on the boat or dock, exposed or faulty wiring, crash damage, or other faults. Also, click photos of drug equipment, liquor or beer bottles, etc.
Incident Investigation Report –
The US Coast Guard intervenes in serious boating accidents, and the officer files an Incident Investigative Report telling about citations, violations, etc. Support your claim with this report.
Statements from Witnesses –
Talk to other passengers and nearby people about the accident and record their statements. Ask about the reason and circumstances of the accident from them.
Medical Record –
Collect all medical records and bills related to your treatment of injuries caused by the boat accident. Also, take medical assistance as soon as possible after the accident. Insurance companies will argue that these injuries are not related to the accident if you take long to get treatment.
Personal Record –
Write down everything related to the accident at a place. Talk about your medical bills, rehab process, loss of wages, bad dreams, pain, suffering, etc., to support your claim.
Your St. Petersburg boat accident attorney will use this evidence to build the most substantial possible injury claim for you. The stronger the evidence, the more chances that you receive an ideal financial settlement from the responsible party.
Compensation Entitled to Boat Accident Victims
Your boating accident lawyer will evaluate the damages suffered by you and how much compensation you should receive. Insurance companies in St. Petersburg try to undermine your claim so that you receive the least amount possible for your injuries. A lawyer will make sure you receive compensation for everything you went through. This includes:
- Medical bills, treatment, and rehab costs
- Loss of wages
- Lost capacity to work and earn money
- Damage to property
- Pain and suffering, both physical and mental
- Wrongful death
Consult a Boating Accident Lawyer in St. Petersburg For Help
After a boat accident, you will be in a lot of pain and distress. It will be challenging to handle your personal injury claim yourself. Partnering with a boating accident lawyer is the best choice for your treatment and handling legal procedures related to the claim. The lawyer will help in:
- Properly investigating the accident and analyzing the circumstances associated with it.
- Determine the reasons and causes leading to the accident.
- Identify the parties responsible for the accident and hold them accountable.
- Collecting proper evidence from the location of the accident and the boat.
- Interviewing other passengers, bystanders, and eyewitnesses.
- Gathering police reports, investigation files, and recorded evidence.
- Negotiating with insurance companies who try to discard your injury claims.
- Representing your personal injury claims in court against the responsible party.
Whether you or your loved ones fall victim to a boat accident in St. Petersburg, do not worry. Coleman Law Group’s boating accident lawyer is there to help with your case. Feel free to contact us, and our attorneys will evaluate your claim.
You will get all the help required to receive your entitled financial settlement so that you can continue living a peaceful, happy life.