Can I Sue for Damages for Injuries Sustained in a Boating Accident?
Florida is known for its miles and miles of beaches, thousands of lakes, and hundreds of rivers. This is one of the reasons why Florida is such a popular place for people to live and visit on vacation. Not surprisingly, given its abundance of water sources, Florida ranks number one in the country for the number of registered watercraft.
Unfortunately, it also follows that since Florida has the most registered boats, Florida is also the state with the most reported boating accidents in 2020, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. While riding or operating a boat can be an enjoyable way to spend your time, unfortunately, it doesn’t come without risk.
If you or a loved one happen to be involved and injured in a boating accident, you may be wondering what rights you have in terms of seeking compensation to pay for your care. While finding an experienced boating accident lawyer in Tampa is the only way to get advice specific to your case, know in general that you do have a right to pursue legal action against any and all negligent parties involved in the accident. Through an injury claim, you can seek compensation for your medical bills and other costs associated with your injuries from the accident. If you have unfortunately lost a loved one due to a boating accident, you also have the right to seek compensation on their behalf through a wrongful death claim.
I’ve Been Injured in a Boating Accident in Florida. What Can I Do?
If you’ve been injured in a boating accident in Florida, you have the right to file a claim against any and all negligent parties involved in the accident. Depending on your individual accident scenario and the circumstances surrounding it, you may be able to take legal action against a number of people.
- If you were a passenger, you may be able to file a claim against the boat driver.
- If another boat caused the accident, you may be able to bring legal action against the driver of that boat.
- If your accident was caused because of malfunctioning equipment, you may be able to bring action against the boat manufacturer and/or the mechanic who performs the maintenance on the boat.
An attorney will help you to identify the parties who can be held legally responsible in your boating accident.
What Are the First Steps to Take After Being Involved in a Boating Accident?
When you’ve been in a boating accident, take the following steps in the immediate aftermath:
- Stop all vessels, and do an immediate headcount. Take note of any pain or visible injuries. Ensure everyone is wearing a life vest.
- If someone is seriously hurt or there are significant damages, use your VHF radio to put out a distress call.
- If you are in a throughway for other vessels, move to a nearby cove, shore, or safe space.
- If FWC, coast guard, or law enforcement is able to make it to your location, wait on help to arrive and apply first aid.
- Get contact information and insurance information for any other vessels involved.
- Document the scene using photos. You want a clear reference point for where the accident occurred, so look for nearby houses, buoys, or landmarks. You also want photos of any injuries and boat damages.
- Seek immediate medical attention for everyone once you are back on land
Once everyone’s health and safety have been attended to, the next goal is to determine the cause of the accident and who is at fault for the injuries you incurred. While there are many different reasons why boating accidents can occur, some of the most common are:
- Driver inattention or negligence (According to the Coast Guard, this is the most common cause of boating accidents.)
- Maintenance issues on the watercraft
- Operating the boat while impaired
- Failure to heed safety advice and precautions
- Being unprepared in regards to required safety equipment
An experienced boating accident attorney can help you gather evidence and work with you in order to determine who the responsible parties were in the accident. Hiring an experienced boat accident attorney is your best chance at recouping your losses due to your injuries.
How is fault established in Florida boating accidents?
In Florida, there are four things that you need proof of in order to establish that a party is responsible for causing that accident in which you were injured:
- Did the boat operator exercise their “Duty of Care” while operating their watercraft?
All boat operators owe it to their passengers and other boaters to safely maintain their watercraft and operate in such a way that no one is endangered.
- Was there negligence involved, either in the operation of the vessel or in its maintenance?
In your case, you will need to demonstrate that someone violated their duty of care. It might be the boat operator, who didn’t maintain a safe speed while driving. If the operator fails to follow any of Florida’s boating laws, that could also contribute to the wreck. It could also be that the boat mechanic or manufacturer used defective parts, which caused the accident.
- Is there a link between your injuries and the accident?
You will need to make a connection between the accident and your injuries. For instance, you will need to prove that the boat operator’s actions were the direct cause of your injuries.
- What damages were suffered because of the accident?
The last thing you will have to prove is the fact that your injuries sustained in the boating accident have caused you to suffer damages. Some examples of damages you suffered may include personal suffering due to your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, or emotional distress.
Hiring an experienced attorney can help you to establish fault in boating accidents. An attorney can help by gathering accident reports, reviewing medical files, finding and interviewing witnesses, hiring experts, and collecting other evidence as it relates to your case.
What Damages Can I Expect to Recover From My Case?
Every case is different, so injury victims will need to consult with an experienced Tampa boating accident attorney to learn what specific damages might be available. Generally speaking, you can expect to be able to claim compensation for any financial loss as well as any physical or emotional suffering due to your injuries.
Typically, damages sought in many personal injury cases might include medical bills, rehabilitation, physical therapy, lost wages, pain and suffering, and permanent disability. The amount you receive in damages normally correlates with how drastically your life was affected by the accident. Working with an experienced attorney is the best way to determine what damages you can claim in your case.
Hire Experienced Boating Accident Attorneys in Tampa
If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious boating accident, hire an experienced boat accident attorney from Darrigo & Diaz. Let our seasoned attorneys work on building your case while you focus your attention on recovering and healing from the accident. Our attorneys have over 20 years of experience fighting for injured clients in the Tampa area, and we will work hard to help you recover your losses.
Call Darrigo & Diaz anytime, day or night. We would love to set up a complimentary consultation so we can give you individualized recommendations on how to best proceed with your case. We are happy to meet with you either virtually or in person.
You can reach us anytime by calling (813) 774-3341 or by contacting us online for a free consultation over the phone or in-person at our office.