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Boating Accident FAQ

Florida is one of the world's most attractive spots for boaters, with a mild climate, access to the oceanfront and many waterways, including lakes and rivers, that can handle many kinds of watercraft. Boaters love the state, but each year water-related accidents and boat accidents lead to fatalities and injuries.

If you're injured, the boating accident attorneys at Flaxman Law Group have put together this FAQ to help you understand what you might want to do next.

What Is a Boating Accident?

A boating accident happens when a boat capsizes, collides with a swimmer or another watercraft, or collides with the shore. Whenever an incident happens where the occupants of the boat or others are injured, this is a boating accident.

What Are the Types of Boating Accidents That Can Happen?

There are many types of accidents that can happen involving boats:

  • Slip and fall accidents on boats
  • The boat collides with another boat, watercraft, or with the shore or with objects in the water
  • Sinkings
  • Person overboard and drowning incidents
  • Lost boats or disappearances of a boat's occupants
  • Boat accidents can happen with any kind of watercraft, including canoes, yachts, speed boats, kayaks, and other watercraft.
Why Do Boating Accidents Usually Happen?

Boat accidents can happen for some of the same reasons as car accidents. However, the water and the weather can pose an additional risk factors drivers do not have to contend with quite as much. Common reasons for boating accidents in South Florida include:

  • Distracted boating
  • Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Inexperienced boat operators
  • Boating during dangerous weather, such as storms
  • Failure to wear life vests or take other precautions
  • Reckless or negligent operation of a boat
  • Weighing a boat down with too much cargo or too many people
  • Lack of adequate safety equipment on board
  • Not adjusting the operation of the boat for any weather conditions that occur or failing to keep tabs on weather conditions from the boat
  • Poor safety warnings
  • Unexpected bad weather
  • Boat mechanical failure
  • Risk-taking on the water
  • Speeding (in motor-operated watercraft)
  • Fire on board the watercraft
What Types of Injuries Happen in Boating Accidents?

One of the biggest dangers on a boat is the risk of drowning, which can happen if a watercraft capsizes or if a person falls overboard. However, there are also other injuries which boaters can experience, including:

  • Hypothermia and exposure
  • Burns
  • Lacerations, cuts, and scarring
  • Amputations
  • Fractures
  • Internal injuries
  • Whiplash and soft tissue injuries
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Head trauma
  • Fatalities
Where Do Most Boating Accidents Happen?

Boating accidents are most likely to occur on holidays and during the summer, which is when many boat owners take to the water. Nighttime can also increase the risk of collisions, because of poor visibility.

In Florida, the ocean and bay areas are the site of most serious boating accidents. It can be harder for boat operators to get to shore quickly, the way they can in rivers or lakes.

What Is the First Thing I Should Do After My Accident?

If you have been injured on board a boat, it is essential to call for help, especially if anyone is seriously injured or is lost overboard. If you are in the water after being thrown from the boat, stay visible to the boat operator, get to a safe area of the water, and wait for help. If you can, swim to the shore and get onto dry land. Your main priority is to get out of the water before hypothermia or exposure set in or before you have an encounter with wildlife.

Once you have gotten to safety or have gotten emergency help for anyone seriously injured in the accident, contact police if a crime may have caused your accident. If possible, get as much documentation as you can about the accident, including taking photos of the accident scene. You will want to contact the insurance company, if it is your watercraft, and you may want to contact a boating accident injury claims attorney if you have been injured. Make these calls as soon as possible to get the claims process started.

Who Is at Fault in My Case?

There may be multiple liable parties at fault, including the boat operator, the person responsible for maintaining the watercraft, the manufacturer of the boat or watercraft components, the company who chartered or owned the boat, other watercraft operators on the water, and other liable parties. Your attorney will carefully seek out those who are responsible for your injuries.

Do I Have a Claim After my Boating Crash?

You may have a claim and be able to seek compensation after your boating accident if:

You have suffered injuries as a result of the accident

These injuries caused losses, including property damage, medical bills, lost income, and other losses

Your injuries were caused by someone's negligence

Determining whether you have a claim can be difficult, which is why it is useful to speak with an attorney. An experienced boating accident lawyer can review your situation and determine if you have a claim.

Do I Have a Claim If I Was Injured on a Cruise Ship, Boat Tour, or Chartered Boat?

Yes. If you have suffered injuries and your injuries were caused by someone's negligence, you may have a claim. In these situations, you may have a claim against the company who owned and operated the boat and who may have failed to follow proper safety protocols.

Do I Need a Boating Accident Lawyer?

You are not legally required to retain an attorney. You can seek compensation through an insurance claim or even civil suit after being injured in a boating accident without an attorney. However, an experienced attorney can make a big difference in the outcome of your case because he or she has the experience and knowledge of the law to properly valuate your case, to investigate the causes of your accident, to negotiate, and to ensure your claim is filed correctly. An attorney can help you avoid errors which can cost you the compensation you may be entitled to.

How Much Compensation Might I Qualify For?

An attorney can help you determine exactly how much compensation you may qualify for. In Florida, you can seek financial recovery for:

  • Medical bills, including current and expected future medical costs related to your injury
  • Lost wages related to your injury, including expected future lost income
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Incidental costs, like the costs of needing help at home because of your injury
  • In general, the more severe your injury and the more it impacts your life and finances, the more compensation you can seek.
Do You Have More Questions?

If you have additional questions after suffering an injury in a boating accident, call Flaxman Law Group at 866-352-9626 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with an attorney who address your questions. You can also contact us online if you have been injured and would like a case evaluation. Our legal team is proud to serve the South Florida area. We have more than 60 years of combined experience to bring to the table and we have helped our clients recover over $100 million in compensation to date.

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