Florida is home to beautiful crisp blue waters and endless sunny days, making the state one of the most sought-after destinations for recreational boating. While the number of registered vessels has decreased in the past decade, Florida is still home to over 900,000 recreational boats and over 30,000 commercial vessels. However, the vast number of vessels in the waters are still causing hundreds of accidents year after year. Boating accidents can lead to bodily injuries, not to mention property damage that can hurt your finances. Let’s take a look at the latest boating accident statistics in Florida, what to look out for, what to do if you or someone you know is ever involved in a boating accident, and what you should expect from working with a boating accident lawyer.
The Rising Number of Boating Accidents in Florida
Florida leads with the most boating accidents in the country. In 2017, Florida accounted for 723 boating accidents, with California falling second with 350 reported accidents – that’s a 106% difference. Florida’s boating accidents also reached an all-time high in 2017 with 766 reported accidents, even though this same year a record 48,301 boating safety education cards were issued. One of Florida’s most alluring appeals is its year-round good weather, which invites locals and tourists alike to explore its beautiful waters. In 2017, spring and early summer months witnessed the most boating accidents, with July leading the charts with 113 reported accidents. While every county in Florida has seen its fair share of reportable accidents, these are the top five counties for boating accidents in Florida in 2017:
- Monroe County – 1 in every 306 registered vessels was involved in an accident
- Miami-Dade County – 1 in every 893 registered vessels was involved in an accident
- Broward County – 1 in every 722 registered vessels was involved in an accident
- Pinellas County – 1 in every 1,125 registered vessels was involved in an accident
- Lee County – 1 in every 1,111 registered vessels was involved in an accident
On average a registered vessel in Florida has an accident rate of 1 in 1,233. These accidents lead to an average of $8,531,187 in property damages, 437 reported injuries, and 67 fatalities.
Who’s to Blame for Boating Accidents?
Much like with car accidents, the primary type of boating accident is a collision with another vessel, accounting for 28.7% of all reported accidents. This is followed by collisions with a fixed object, flooding, falls overboard, and hitting an underwater object. With most of the boating accidents reported in Florida involving the boat’s owner in 81% of the cases, it is not surprising that the number one cause of accidents is driver inattention. Other causes include:
- Operator inexperience
- Machinery failure
- Excessive speed
- Careless operation
- Alcohol use
In case of a boating accident, the leading cause of the accident is critical to determining who is liable. If the boat operator was speeding, operating under the influence, or if the passengers can prove the boat’s operator failed to provide reasonable safety, they may be held liable for the accident. In the case of a machinery failure, the manufacturing company and the rental company may be held responsible. In the end, all the events leading up to the accident need to be analyzed to determine who could be held accountable for the crash.
Common Injuries from Boating Accidents
Beyond the property damage associated with a boating accident, there are also bodily injuries that can be life-changing for the victims. In 2017, Florida waters witnessed 437 reported injuries, another all-time high in the past five years. The most common types of injuries reported in boating accidents in order of frequency include:
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Sprains and strains
- Neck injuries
- Spinal injuries
All of the above injuries can leave boat accident victims with high medical expenses, significant lost wages, and permanent damage that can be life-altering. Those involved in a boating accident have rights to recover from the losses experienced.
What to Do If You Are Involved in a Boating Accident
If you or someone you know has been involved in a boating accident, it is important that you understand your rights as a victim. You may be eligible to recover property damages, medical expenses, and other damages. Consulting a boat accident attorney can help you understand your rights and help you start detailing a case to file a claim to recover the damages you may be entitled to receive. A boating accident can be a traumatizing experience. Let the attorneys at LJ Law Group, provide you with the legal counsel you need to fight for the compensation you deserve.