Boating and Watercraft Accidents 

Florida is a boat lover’s state. There were in excess of 900,000 registered boats in a recent year. Unfortunately, that same year there were 737 reportable accidents, resulting in 55 fatalities and 438 injuries. Many of these accidents were caused by the negligence of a boat operator or other party.

If you were injured in a boating accident that was due to another’s negligence, or if a loved one lost their life, you may pursue compensatory damages for your losses, medical expenses and much more. 

In Miami and Throughout Florida, Boating is a Favorite Activity

Florida was made for boating and water sports – after all, the state is a peninsula surrounded by water, in addition to the many lakes throughout the state. Unfortunately, many boat owners and enthusiasts do not know how to properly and responsibly operate their boats.  

The following data from a recent year was compiled by the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission: 

  • 737: number of boating accidents
  • 438: number of injuries
  • 55: number of fatalities
  • In almost 20% of all boating fatalities alcohol or drug use was involved
  • 42% of all fatal boating accidents resulted from boaters falling overboard
  • Males accounted for 95% of all boating deaths
  • Drowning is the leading cause of death in fatal accidents
  • Miami-Dade County had the most accidents and injuries in the state, with 96 accidents, 3 fatalities and 74 injuries
  • Small paddle boats - kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and rowboats – are often involved in accidents, resulting in fatalities and injuries
  • The majority of boats in fatal accidents were 21 feet or less in length

There are a many different causes of boating accidents, including the following:

  • Excessive speed
  • Careless and reckless boat operation
  • Boater inexperience
  • Bad weather conditions
  • Violating navigation rules
  • Alcohol and drug impairment
  • Overloaded boat
  • Obstructed vision
  • Water skier mishap
  • Colliding with another boat or a fixed object
  • Capsize
  • Striking an underwater object
  • Machinery malfunction
  • Defective design
  • Defective manufacture
  • Defect in marketing, information, warning, or operating instructions

What is a Reportable Boating Accident?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission compiles data based on “reportable boating accidents.”

In order to be classified as a reportable boating accident, at least one of the following five criteria must be met:

  1. An individual dies
  2. A person disappears – indicating possible injury or death
  3. A person receives medical treatment for an injury that can’t be treated just with first aid
  4. $2,000 or more in property damage to the boat or property
  5. There is a total loss of a boat involved in the accident

The information collected is extremely important to boating accident cases.

What are Some of the Different Types of Boats Involved in Accidents?

Of course, boats come in all sizes and price ranges. As stated above, the majority of boats that are in crashes and accidents are smaller than 21 ft. in length.

Different boats include:

  • Open motorboat
  • Personal watercraft
  • Sailboat, with or without power engine
  • Cabin motorboat
  • Airboat
  • Pontoon boat
  • Yacht

Personal Watercraft – Information and Statistics

There are several types of personal watercraft that have come to be generically known as jet skis and waverunners. To be accurate, a Jet Ski is a Kawasaki product and a WaveRunner is a Yamaha Motor product.  These water vehicles have been described as “motorcycles for the water.” They have handlebars and the operator and riders sit on a seat similar to that of a motorcycle’s. Most of these vehicles are made to seat two people, while some seat three and others four. The faster personal watercraft can reach speeds of 65 to 80 miles per hour.

These personal watercraft are particularly attractive to younger age groups but individuals of all ages enjoy them. These watercraft account for a significant number and percentage of reportable accidents. Personal watercraft are frequently rented at waterfront hotels and resorts, and rented ones represent a disproportionately high number of accidents:

  • 161 – number of reportable accidents
  • 22% - percentage of boating accidents
  • 43% - rented personal watercraft in accidents
  • 44% - percentage of personal watercraft involved in a collision with another boat 
  • 51% - the percentage of personal watercraft accidents in Miami-Dade County

Personal watercraft are often rented to inexperienced, unskilled operators, many of whom are young. As well, they are often operated recklessly in pursuit of the thrill of speed. Not infrequently, operators drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Accidents are statistically higher in personal watercraft than in many other traditional boats.

You can reach Personal Injury Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email J.P. directly at [email protected].

J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo
J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A.
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