Boating Accident Attorney

If you go to Miami and are seduced into boating in the blue waters of Miami Beach or Coconut Grove, you should be careful. You will see many other boats in the water, which should be no surprise as there are nearly a million registered vessels in Florida. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, there is a good chance you will need a boat accident attorney.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FFWCC) Division of Law Enforcement reported 985,005 registered vessels in the state for 2020, which is slightly up from 2019’s 961,266 boats. Boating accidents are common in Florida. Reportable boat accidents also climbed to 836 in 2020 from 723 in 2019, with 79 and 65 fatalities, respectively. Injury statistics are also grim, rising to 534 from 453.

If you sustain serious injuries in a boating accident, and the other party is responsible, you may want to talk to a boating accident attorney to see about getting compensation, especially if it results in long-term disability.

Florida Boating Laws

The state of Florida is very much aware of the potential for catastrophic injuries and fatalities, with many registered vessels in the state. Chapter 327 of the 2019 Florida Statutes stipulates rules to regulate the safe use of vessels.

Boating Safety Requirements

Under section 395, anyone operating a boat of 10 horsepower or greater and who was born after January 1, 1988, must pass a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission-approved boating safety education course or show proof of having taken the course.  There are, however, some exemptions to this requirement.

Boating accidents

Under section 30, any person involved in a reportable boating accident must report the incident to the FFWCC, the county sheriff, or municipal police chief as soon as possible. A reportable boating accident results in death, serious personal injury, the disappearance of any passenger that indicates serious injury or death, or property damage of $2,000 or more. The boat operator may not lawfully leave the scene of the accident without rendering necessary aid to all people involved and without reporting the incident to the proper authorities.    

Reckless and Careless Operation    

Under section 33, any operator found to have behaved with recklessness or willful disregard for the safety of others or their property has committed a first-degree misdemeanor (reckless operation).

All operators are also expected to obey posted restrictions, be mindful of divers-down flags, and act reasonably and prudently in other circumstances to avoid endangering other people. Anyone who fails to act responsibly while operating a vessel commits a noncriminal infraction.

Boating Under the Influence 

Under section 352, any person operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs is violating the law. An operator who acts in a manner consistent with being under the influence must submit to tests to determine sobriety. A blood-alcohol level of .08 grams for every 100 milliliters of blood is considered under the influence. However, an operator under 21 who has a breath-alcohol level of .02 is considered to be intoxicated and, therefore, violating Florida law.

Most Common Types of Boating and Watercraft Accidents

According to the FFWCC, the most common cause of boat accidents in Florida is a collision with another vessel (27%). A majority of injuries were lacerations (28%), followed by broken bones (19%), contusions (16%), and head injuries (12%). 

Miami-Dade County ranks second for the most boating accidents among the counties in Florida in 2020. There were 95 (11.4% of total state accidents) reported, with 46 resulting in injury and five resulting in fatalities. Thirty-six accidents (39%) involved a collision with another vessel. The top cause of the accident was inattention or no proper lookout (35.8%), followed by a combined 17% for careless/reckless behavior and excessive speed and alcohol or drug impairment. More than half (57%) of all boating accidents in Miami-Dade County involved a cabin motorboat.

How Boating Accident Attorneys in Florida Can Help

Pursuing a personal injury claim without the benefit of an experienced boat accident attorney is not a good idea. Boating accidents happen all the time in Miami, but not all operators are at fault. To prove liability, you have to present evidence that the operator owed you a duty of care and was negligent in some way, and that can be hard to do.            

Boating accident attorneys in Florida handle many cases of personal injury caused by operators’ negligence or reckless behavior. They have extensive knowledge of the boating rules and regulations that ensure the safety of people and property while in the water.

A boating accident attorney will also have access to resources for proving the liability of another party for causing catastrophic injuries, long-term disability, or death in boating accidents that may not otherwise be available to victims.

If you or someone close to you sustained serious injuries in a boating accident due to operator negligence, reckless or careless behavior, or impairment due to alcohol or drugs, you have the right to claim compensation. You can most effectively do that by consulting experienced boat accident attorneys.

Leading Causes of Boating Accidents

No proper lookout/Inattention Operating a vessel in the water is a lot like driving a car. The operator must always look out for anything in the water that might lead to an accident. Even for a few seconds while at low speeds, any inattention can still result in serious injuries, property damage, or someone going overboard. No proper lookout was the most common cause of boating accidents in Miami for 2020.
Operator inexperience Florida requires an operator to take and pass a boating safety course. Still, there is no substitute for experience when it comes to operating a boat safely, especially when it comes to bad weather, equipment failure, and navigating crowded waters.
Careless/reckless operation Florida law requires operators to act reasonably and prudently to ensure the safety of people and property in the water. Examples of careless and reckless operations include:Operating a boat at high speedSlamming into a big wave at high speedCrashing into other boats or objectsWeaving through congested areasOvercrowding

Ensure that you receive full and just compensation when involved in a boating accident by contacting Diamond and Diamond Miami attorneys. Schedule a free consultation today.


Pro tip

“If you’re injured in a boating accident involving more than one vessel, you may be entitled to sue the boat operator who caused the accident.”

– Diamond and Diamond Miami

Diamond and Diamond Boating Accident Attorneys in Miami

Boating accidents are prevalent in Florida because of the large number of vessels typically operating in the waters around the state. State laws guard the safety of people and property by regulating how operators should behave while in the water.

Unfortunately, those laws could not prevent the 534 injuries or the 79 deaths that resulted from boating accidents in 2020. While only some accidents are due to negligence, even one is too much because those accidents are entirely preventable.

If you suffered injuries in Miami because the operator was negligent in some way, you need a boating accident attorney from Diamond and Diamond Lawyers. They have decades of experience handling personal injury lawsuits and serve multiple areas in Florida, including Miami. When you need a compassionate and professional advocate to help you get through your traumatic experience and compensation for your losses from the party at fault, you want Diamond and Diamond by your side.As a boating accident victim, you should know your legal rights. Get a free evaluation of your boat accident case today.

Boating Accident Attorney FAQs

Operator negligence in boating accidents may include:

  • Going out in bad weather
  • Jumping a wake or large wave at high speeds
  • Contravening FFWCC regulations
  • Overloading
  • Going at high rates of speed in congested areas

The Jones Act, or more properly known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which is a federal statute, protects seamen injured while performing their duties by giving them the right to sue employers for personal injury, provided the vessel was in transit at the time of the incident. It parallels Florida statutes regarding the operators’ duty of care to their passengers while the vessel is in operation.

According to the FFWCC, a boating accident is reportable under the following circumstances:

  • A person dies or disappears under conditions that imply possible death or injury
  • A person sustains an injury that requires medical treatment beyond first aid
  • A minimum of $2,000 in aggregate property damage occurred 
  • Total loss of a vessel

Yes, some boats and onboard devices, such as generators, run on gasoline. The exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide, an odorless and colorless gas. Without adequate ventilation on the boat, carbon monoxide can accumulate and silently kill the people inside. CORRECT.

Yes, even recreational boating can cause serious financial damage. In 2020, over 5,200 accidents were reported by the U.S. Coast Guard. These accidents resulted in 767 deaths and $62.5 million worth of damage to property. CORRECT.

It depends on the situation. Similar to other personal injury cases, claims for compensation for boating accident victims are often based on the negligence of the party at fault. However, some cases are due to more specific issues, such as maintenance or reckless driving of the boat. Hiring a boat accident attorney is critical to finding out what is needed to file boating accident claims.