Florida is a great place for water sports and boating activities. There are many boating spots in Tampa where people have fun and spend time boating and other water activities. Unfortunately, with thousands of new boat registrations yearly in Florida, boat accidents are common in the state.
Some boat accidents are so serious that the damage caused to the boat is so extensive, and it becomes difficult to find evidence of the accident. However, a Tampa boating accident lawyer can help the injured person get justice and compensation.
Boating accidents can be fatal for people in the boat and others in its vicinity. Accidents in the water can also be fatal and even life-threatening for people. Anyone who works on a boat or vessel should know the legal protections under maritime laws and acts.
Common Reasons for Boat Accidents in Tampa
Here are the top five reasons for boating accidents in Tampa.
Faulty boat equipment/mechanical failure
All boats require regular inspection and maintenance to ensure their safety. Any defective or malfunctioning part on a boat can lead to a serious accident for which boat owners and recreational businesses can be held liable.
Collision with other boats in the water can cause serious injury to the occupants. Also, other objects, including logs, documents, or floating debris, can cause serious injury in a collision.
Boat owner negligence
It is not easy to operate boats, and the driver should be well trained. A boat owner or operator must be experienced and responsible.
Passengers on board
A person falling into the water could result in serious injury or a drowning accident. People can fall overboard for various reasons, including slip and fall incidents, careless boat handling, dangerous awakenings caused by other boats, consumption of alcohol or drugs, etc.
Driving under the influence
It’s illegal to travel on a boat under the influence of alcohol. Similar to Florida traffic laws, sailors are intoxicated if their blood alcohol is 0.08% or more.
Boat owners and operators need to be aware of weather conditions and changes in the weather at all times. High winds and dangerous water can cause significant injury to passengers, including falling overboard.
Responsibilities of Boat Owners in Tampa
Many people in Florida possess jet skis, canoes, motorboats, sailboats, and several other types of watercraft to enjoy the seas. Any watercraft owner must obtain the necessary permits and certificates to operate their craft safely and lawfully. It’s also good to ensure your boat has the required safety gear and buy insurance coverage. The tools a boat needs are:
- Life jackets for every passenger
- Fire extinguisher
- Emergency water/food
- Emergency flares
- Spare paddle
- Spare towing ropes
Steps to reduce fatal boat accidents, injuries, and drownings
To ensure your safety, take the following precautions on a watercraft such as a speedboat or jet ski:
Stay within the speed limit and within your capacity;
Always wear life jackets or, if you are on a large boat, make sure the life jackets are within reach of everyone on board in case of an emergency. Unlike driving a car, where most vehicles travel parallel or perpendicular to you, boats and jet skis travel in all directions and rarely go straight without a specific destination.
What to do in case of a boat accident in Tampa
If you or someone you love is injured in a boating accident in Tampa, FL, you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries and other damages. The accident may have left you with a significant amount of medical bills, and you may not be able to return to work because of your injuries.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), 44 percent of boating accidents in 2020 were due to operator error or inattention. In 2020, 79 people died in boating accidents.
If the negligence or carelessness of another person causes a boating accident in Tampa, you can claim compensation for the injuries that may have occurred.
Identify the cause of the accident
Knowing what factors led to your accident allows us to identify the parties to contact for compensation. Suppose we must conduct a full investigation to determine this or call medical or accident professionals to assist us. In that case, our Tampa boating accident lawyer can assist you in determining the obligation to help. They are ready to do whatever they can.
Evaluate your case
If the negligence of another party caused your accident, there is a high chance that they or your insurance company will provide monetary compensation, but how much?
Determining the value of a boating accident can be difficult, especially if you don’t know how to assess non-economic damages such as personal injury and suffering or if you don’t know all the damages for which you can claim compensation.
Take action against those responsible for compensation
Once we have identified all responsible parties and assessed your case, one of our attorneys will assist you in making a compensation claim for those parties. If the boat operator had insurance at the time of the accident, we could help you file a claim with the insurance company.
While Florida law does not require insurance for sailors, it can certainly come in handy in situations like this. If the boat operator did not have insurance at the time of the accident, our attorneys would determine the best course of action to get you closer to recovering the money you deserve.
Accidents are much more frightening when they are in the water, where the potential for injury outweighs the potential for drowning. Accidents can cause panic for everyone involved, but in the event of a boating accident, it is even more important to remain calm and in control.
Seek Medical Attention
The priority after any disaster is proper medical care. In a boating accident, determine if you or anyone else needs medical help. If someone is injured, seek professional help immediately. While waiting for medical help, check to see if first aid is available in the ship’s emergency kit.
One of the dangers of a boating accident is falling overboard. If someone falls into the water, do not jump after them unless necessary. Instead, if possible, throw a hoop, rope, or hoop aid at the person. If you must jump after them, ensure you are already wearing a life jacket.
Report a boat accident
It is helpful to call the Coast Guard after a boating accident, especially when medical help is needed. But beyond that, federal law requires accident reporting. According to the US Coast Guard, if any of the following occurs as a result of a boating accident, you must report it to the state registry:
- A death
- A missing person
- An injury that requires more than just first aid
- Property damage of $2,000 or more
- A sunken boat
Another reason to report your boating accident is to file an accident report. This document can be valuable evidence for your claim. So keep your report factually correct, but avoid unnecessary information, opinion, or speculation. Also, avoid taking responsibility or apologizing to protect yourself and your claim.
Gathering information about your boat accident
In addition to the accident report, you also want to gather information about the other people involved in your accident and other potential evidence in your case.
First, ask for the names, addresses, contact details, and vessel identity of all involved vessel operators. Florida Boating Rules require they share this information with those injured and the owners of property damaged in the accident. Also, ask about the names of the insurance companies and policy numbers of the people involved in the accident, especially the boat operators.
Then talk to people who may have witnessed a boating accident and get their names and contact information. If possible, take photos of the accident site and the damage caused. Document the accident site, the condition of the boat(s), any visible damage, and especially injuries to everyone involved.
What to do After a Boat Accident?
Some important tasks will help you medically and legally in the hours or even days after the accident.
It would be best if you informed your insurer of the incident. Regardless of who you think was responsible for the accident, you should contact your insurance company to recover damages.
The other party’s insurer may also contact you. Be careful when talking to insurance adjusters. It is best to let an attorney speak for you.
See a doctor for a complete medical examination after an accident is also advisable. Some injuries do not show symptoms right away. In other cases, seemingly minor symptoms later become symptoms of a more serious illness. Therefore, you should know the true extent of your injuries before accepting any insurance quote.
Contact the Coleman Law Group
If you are injured in a boat accident in Tampa, Florida, you can contact the Coleman Law Group for help. Our Tampa boating accident lawyer can help you get the necessary compensation for your injuries in the accident and the insurance claim for your treatment and recovery.