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Caution: Boating in Florida May Be Fun, but Know the Risks
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Caution: Boating in Florida May Be Fun, but Know the Risks


Summer is the time of year when people usually think about all the time they plan to spend outside enjoying the weather and spending more time with their family. While Florida’s climate allows for outdoor activity year round, there is still an emphasis on doing more during this season, now that children are out of school. Many of these activities happen on or around water due to the state’s geography, and as a result, Florida has one of the highest levels of boat ownership in the country.

A recent article in the Sun Sentinel looks at the rate of boating accidents throughout the state, and notes that Florida has the highest number of accidents annually in the country. Safety measures boaters can take to keep themselves and others safe are also described. Given the large part boating and the water plays in the lives of many Floridians, a discussion of what to do if you or a family member is involved in boating accident will follow below.

Common Types of Boating Accidents and Injuries
While the specific circumstance of each accident is unique, there are types of accidents that happen more commonly with boats and other watercraft, which lead to injury in many cases. The most common kinds of boating accidents include:

Two vessels colliding;
Capsizing;
Hitting a stationary object, such as a pier, dock or submerged object;
Towing accidents;
Someone falling overboard; and
Flooding that leads to sinking.

Because these accidents happen on water and often involve boats with exposed engines and propellers, the likelihood of experiencing a serious injury increases. Some common injuries in these situations include: spinal cord and brain injuries, drowning, lacerations, fractured/broken bones, concussions and burns. Certainly, the nature and severity of any injury will be determined by the facts of the accident, but knowing about the kinds of injuries that occur may help you to be more aware, and thus safer.

Finding Liability
Once an accident does happen and someone gets hurt, the next question, after medical treatment is addressed, is whether a boat operator was at fault. In order for someone to be held liable for your injuries, you must be able to prove in court that the person was negligent. In order for someone to be negligent they must first owe you a duty of reasonable care. Because operating a boat presents the foreseeable risk of harm, the operator owes anyone on his/her boat and other individuals in area a duty to act in a reasonable and prudent manner. If you are hurt because someone failed to exercise this duty of reasonable care, and you were hurt as a consequence, you may have a legal claim for negligence. Examples of actions by operators that would be considered negligent include: careless or reckless operation like driving the boat while intoxicated or speeding, operator inattention, lack of a proper spotter or lookout and operator inexperience. These types of claims must be filed in a court within four years of the accident, so it is important to take action as soon after the accident as possible.

Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you were injured in a boating or watercraft accident, and want to see if you can recover for your injuries and suffering, it is best to talk with a personal injury attorney who can evaluate the merits of your case.

AUTHOR: Pita Weber Del Prado

Copyright Pita, Weber & Del Prado
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.
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