Boating is one of the joys of our local Florida culture. However, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shows that Pinellas county is in the top 10 counties with reportable boating accidents. If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a boating accident in the state of Florida, contact Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers at (855) 529-0269 to get started with a free consultation.
Boating Safety Regulations and Laws
Florida Statute 327 and Statute 328 provide guidance regarding boating laws in the state. One major difference between boating and car accidents though, is that boat operators are not required to maintain liability insurance. This means that if you were injured in a boating accident, your only option to obtain compensation for your injuries may be to file a lawsuit against the boat operator.
In order to have a personal injury case for a boating accident, we must prove the following four elements:
- Duty: the boat operator has a responsibility to obey all maritime regulations and laws in the state of Florida and not cause harm.
- Breach: Florida’s comparative fault law discusses negligence after an accident. We need to prove that the boat operator was negligent with respect to navigating their vessel.
- Causation: we must prove that your personal injury from the boating accident was a direct result of the boating operator’s negligence and breached the duty of care they owed you.
- Damages: to successfully bring a personal injury lawsuit and receive compensation for your boating injuries, you must have suffered actual damages (physical, emotional, or financial) through the negligence of the boating operator.
Contacting a St. Petersburg boating accident lawyer from Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers at (855) 529-0269 will help you understand your rights and help you determine if the boating operator was negligent.
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Common Types of Boating Accidents
While numerous types of boating accidents occur, these are the most common types in the state of Florida:
- Hitting another boat: as a boat operator, if your vessel impacts another boat or vessel, it is possible that you are at fault, the other boat operator is at fault, or you may both be at fault. In most instances, if a motorboat impacts a sailboat or other vessel without an engine, the motorboat will be considered at fault.
- Your boat hits another boat’s wake: if your boat hits another boat’s wake, there are many circumstances that must be taken into account. Boat speed, visibility, traffic, weather, and other circumstances will determine fault in these boating accidents.
- Your boat hits a wave: this boating accident is similar to when you hit another boat’s wake; however, in this instance, no other boat or operator can be held liable for a boating accident.
- Your boat hits an object: your boat or vessel could impact either land, a rock, or some other type of submerged object. While dangerous weather, decreased visibility, and other environmental factors can increase the likelihood that a boat operator could have an accident with an object, again no other boat or operator can be held responsible unless the object was placed there negligently.
- Failure to maintain proper safety equipment: if a boat operator fails to maintain or keep proper safety equipment on board, (such as lifejacket or vests, flare guns, fire extinguishers, whistles, etc.), and someone is personally injured, we may be able to file a claim against the boat operator for negligence.
Your Boating Accident Action Plan
According to the Official Boating Handbook of The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, if you have been injured in a boating accident in Florida, these following steps will help us ensure that your medical and legal rights are preserved.
Stop Immediately and Assess Injuries
The operator of a boat involved in an accident must do the following:
- Stop his or her boat immediately (unless stopping the boat or vessel would endanger his or her own vessel, crew, or passengers)
- Immediately provide assistance to anyone injured
- Provide contact details including name, address, and identifying the boat or vessel number to the other boat operator or any owner of damaged property
Report the Accident
An accident must be reported immediately if there has been a death or disappearance of a person, if an injury required a person to receive medical attention beyond simple first aid, or if there was damage to either the boat or other property that was greater than $2,000.00.
The report of the boating accident must be made to one of the three following agencies:
- The Division of Law Enforcement, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: (888) 404-3922, or *FWC from a cell phone
- The sheriff of the county where the boating accident occurred
- The police department of the municipality where the boating accident occurred
Document Everything Possible
While having an official police report is important, we can build your boating accident case on the additional documentation you provide, including the following:
- Use your cell phone to take photographs of the entire boating accident scene and all injuries suffered, if possible.
- Obtain all witnesses’ contact information, which will help us obtain witness statements later, if necessary.
- Maintain records of any correspondence or information that relates to the accident, such as insurance company correspondence, employer correspondence, medical bills, doctor’s notes, lost wages, etc.
- Maintain a personal diary of any physical symptoms over time.
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Contact an Attorney
If you have suffered an injury related to a boating accident, you should contact a St. Petersburg boating accident lawyer as soon as possible. Talking to a boating accident attorney can help you understand your rights and determine negligence. The team at Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers can help you understand your legal rights and help you determine your legal options to receive just compensation for your boating accident injury in Florida. We can work with you every step of the way through your boating accident claim, even through litigation if necessary.
Call Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers today at (855) 529-0269 to get started with a free consultation.
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