M.D: Who is liable in a boating accident in Florida? Is it the boat operator, boat owner, boat rental company, or the manufacturer?
There are over 12 million registered boats in the United States, and every year more than 4,700 recreational boating accidents happen, causing the death of over 700 people. Even if these accidents are not fatal in most cases, the boat operators and passengers can suffer severe injuries ranging from bone fractures and broken limbs to traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and loss of limbs.
Generally, there are different causes of boating accidents. Some of these causes include malfunctioning equipment, operator negligence, harsh weather conditions, and more. If you were involved in a boating accident and suffered injuries, the law allows you to pursue a personal injury claim against the responsible party.
Unfortunately, determining liability in a boat-related accident is often challenging and requires an in-depth investigation by experts. This is because water ruins the traces of the boat crash, and this makes accident reconstruction very challenging. Here are some of the parties that can be held responsible for a boat-related accident.
The boat operator may have failed to offer reasonable safety for the boat passengers, was intoxicated while in control of the vessel, or he/she engaged in negligent operations and disregarded boating regulations. In this case, the operator can be held liable for any possible boating accident and consequential damages.
Every recreational boat passenger must have an approved life jacket that’s the correct size of the wearer. Boat operators or owners who don’t have sufficient life jackets onboard or who fail to urge their passengers to wear life jackets can be held liable for passenger injuries and other damages in case of an accident.
According to Federal Law, boaters must have a Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, or III wearable life jacket for everyone aboard the vessel. All boats greater than 16 feet must have a Coast Guard-approved throwable Type IV device.
On a sea vessel that’s underway, kids under 13 years of age should wear the appropriate United States Coast Guard-approved life jacket unless they’re below the deck or in an enclosed cabin. In case the state has established other requirements regarding life jackets for children, these requirements are applicable to waters subject to the state’s jurisdiction.
If the boat owner knowingly loaned the boat to a person who wasn’t qualified to operate it, he or she can be held responsible for injuries and other damages in case of an accident. In Florida, all boat operators under the age of 21 years must carry a photo ID while operating the boat. Also, they must take an approved boat safety course to get a BSIC (Boating safety identification card). Remember, this card allows you to operate a sea vessel with ten horsepower or higher.
A boat passenger who acted negligently or prevented the boat operator from executing their duty effectively can be held responsible for a boat accident if their actions were the main cause of the accident. If you’re a boating enthusiast, make sure your actions don’t put the boat operator and other passengers at risk.
If you were involved in a boating accident, the law allows you to seek compensation for the damages you suffered and hold the right parties responsible. However, you must prove that the injuries and other damages you suffered directly resulted from another person’s negligence. This is the reason you need an experienced boating accident attorney.
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