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Jacksonville 904-201-8226
Lake City 386-752-5511

Jacksonville Boat Accident Lawyer

Lake City and Jacksonville offer numerous opportunities for recreational boating, including Alligator Lake, St. John’s River, and of course, the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, the large amount of boating also means a large amount of boating accidents. Boating accidents have the tragic potential to result in catastrophic injuries or wrongful death when a negligent boater collides with another vessel, swimmer or personal watercraft. The Jacksonville boat accident lawyers at Douglas & Douglas can help you get medical care and financial compensation if you or a member of you family is injured in a boating accident in Florida.

Florida Boating Accident Statistics

Florida has the most registered vessels of any state in the country. It also has the highest number of boating fatalities annually and the highest number of boating accidents by far. According to the 2016 Boating Accidents Statistical Report of Florida Fish and Wildlife, there were 714 boating accidents and 67 boating deaths in the state that year. On a county-by-county basis, Duval County was among the top ten counties with the most boating accidents.

Boating accidents can occur among any type of vessel and activity, including power boats, sport fishing, kayaking, water skiing, and personal watercraft such as jet skis. Personal watercraft seem particularly dangerous; although they make up only 13% of all registered vessels, they are involved in 26% of all boating accidents.

Boater Negligence Causes Boating Accidents

Operator negligence is a leading cause of Florida boating accidents. Most boating accidents are caused by a collision with another vessel, followed by collision with a fixed object. Falling overboard and drowning are the leading causes of death in Florida boating accidents. Some of the many ways boating accidents and injuries are reported include:

  • Collisions with other boats
  • Collisions with jet skiers, water skiers, kayakers or swimmers
  • Collisions with objects in the water, such as buoys or platforms
  • Capsizing a boat
  • Falling overboard and getting hit
  • Getting hit by a loose object on the boat deck
  • Accidents on negligently maintained docks or sea walls
  • Renting a watercraft to an obviously intoxicated or inexperienced boater
  • Renting watercraft that is defective or in disrepair
  • Renting watercraft without providing necessary safety gear
  • Fires/explosions
  • Falling in the boat

Florida Boating Safety Laws, or the Lack Thereof

The outcome of a boating accident can be as bad as or worse than a car wreck, but you don’t need a license to drive a boat in Florida. In fact, there isn’t even a minimum age someone has to be to legally drive a boat in Florida. All that is required is that if you were born in 1998 or after, then you have to take a boater safety course first. This course is not actually conducted on a boat, however. It is classroom-based, and these days, most people take the course online. Even this type of boater education is better than nothing, though. Of those involved in fatal boating accidents in Florida in 2016, 70% had no formal boater education.

Injured as a Swimmer or a Diver? An Attorney Can Help You Hold the Operator Accountable

Swimmers, divers, and snorkelers face extreme danger not from sharks or alligators, but from boats. Boat operators who are speeding, intoxicated, or do not have a proper lookout (or who meet all three of those criteria) are putting swimmers at serious risk in ocean, lake, and river waterways. It is the duty of a boat operator to keep a careful eye out, and provide their law-mandated care of duty to swimmers and others not in boats. Unfortunately, swimmers are commonly the victims of hit and run boating collisions, resulting in an extremely high drowning risk. Hit and runs are common on the waterways, just as they are common on the roads, and most water vessel operators believe that they can get away with it if their victim does not have a vehicle of their own. Divers with bright flags attached to nearby floats have been hit by motor boats before off the coast, as reported in the Sun Sentinel, only to be left for dead by uncaring boat operators. If law enforcement was able to track down such a hit and run operator, they may plead ignorant of the collision, or claim that the diver or swimmer was not wearing the bright swim cap or diving near a flagged buoy like they actually were. This is where an attorney becomes invaluable in arguing your case and holding the negligent party accountable.

If you were hit by a motorized boat as a swimmer, diver, snorkeler, water skier, tuber, or wakeboarder, you have the right to pursue financial compensation. Moreover, if you were hit by a boat operator who fled the scene, that person should not only be penalized in the criminal court, but your chances of winning a personal injury case are greatly increased.

Common Boating Accident Injuries Caused by Careless or Reckless Operators

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, recreational boating injuries are on the rise. In 2016 alone, injuries increased by 11.1 percent, while fatalities increased by 12 percent. This may be due to more inexperienced boaters taking to the waters, more people boating while intoxicated, or simply more boaters in general. Injuries sustained in water vessel collisions are often similar to those sustained in land motor vehicle collisions. However, there is an added risk of death due to drowning during boating accidents. Moreover, boat occupants are not protected by crumple zones, seat belts, safety glass, and air bags. During high speed collisions, occupants may be ejected into the water or into the other boat, resulting in broken limbs, whiplash, traumatic brain injury, and/or drowning. Common injuries caused during boating collisions include the following:

  • Traumatic brain injury;
  • Amputation;
  • Burn;
  • Dislocation;
  • Electric shock;
  • Broken bone;
  • Shock;
  • Spinal cord damage;
  • Sprain or strain;
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning;
  • Lacerations;
  • Contusions; and
  • Whiplash.

Deaths are most commonly caused by:

  • Drowning;
  • Trauma;
  • Cardiac arrest; and
  • Hypothermia.

Help is Available after Serious Boating Accidents in Jacksonville

If you or a loved one were injured in a boating accident, call the Jacksonville boat accident lawyers at Douglas & Douglas for a free consultation. We will learn about the facts of your case and let you know how we may be able to help you get compensation for your injuries from the negligent party responsible for your harm.

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