Miami Boat Accident Attorney
Boating is a way of life in South Florida. If you live in Mouth Florida, chances are you either own a boat, know someone who owns a boat or will have the opportunity at some point to go out on a boat.The number of vessels registered in Florida increased to 950,740 in 2018. In fact, the state of Florida leads the nation in registered vessels.
Additionally, it is estimated that up to one million non-registered vessels actively use Florida’s waters, and it appears that the boating population is still growing. Unfortunately, there is an ever-growing number of boating accident cases with many of them involving serious personal injury or even death. If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating accident, it is imperative that you contact a Miami boating accident attorney right away. When boats or other types of watercraft crash, the consequences can be tragic. The Law Offices of Suarez & Montero are here to help victims of yacht, boat and personal watercraft accidents in South Florida.
Understanding Maritime Laws and Regulations of Florida
Florida maritime law regulates all maritime occupations in addition to all recreational and commercial activities that take place in the state’s rivers, lakes, swamps, and surrounding ocean waters. It is important to note that a violation of the Federal Navigation Rules is also a violation of Florida law. Boaters in Florida must be mindful of both state and federal maritime laws. If you have been involved in a boating accident in Florida state waters, we can use our thorough understanding of Florida maritime law to help secure the compensation you deserve. Many boaters have questions regarding Florida maritime law, and our team of experienced attorneys has answers. Below is a list of all of the major laws and regulations boaters should be aware of in Florida:
Persons involved in boating accidents must render aid and alert the appropriate authorities as soon as possible following an accident. The operator of a vessel involved in a boating accident where there is personal injury beyond immediate first-aid, death, disappearance of any person under circumstances that indicate death or injury, or if there is damage to the vessel(s) and/or personal property of at least $2,000, must, by the quickest means possible, give notice to either the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the sheriff of the county in which the accident occurred, or the police chief of the municipality in which the accident occurred, if applicable. It is unlawful for any person operating a vessel involved in a boating accident to leave the scene without giving all possible aid to the involved persons and without reporting the accident to the proper authorities.
Careless or Reckless Operation:
Boaters in the state of Florida have an obligation to help ensure the safety of those around them. If a boater has caused an accident as a result of gross negligence or carelessness, he or she can be held responsible for damages. Anyone who operates a vessel with willful disregard for the safety of persons or property will be cited for reckless operation which is a first-degree misdemeanor. All operators are responsible for operating their vessel in a reasonable and prudent manner with regard for other vessel traffic, posted restrictions, the presence of a divers-down flag and other circumstances so as not to endanger people outside of the vessel or property. Failure to do so is considered careless operation (a non-criminal infraction).
Excessive speed, particularly in an area where speed limits are in place, can be incredibly dangerous. Boat operators must strictly obey speed restrictions in areas of water where they are posted and must not create excessive wake that could create a hazard for other boaters.
Boat operators in the State of Florida must register their vessels (with the exception of non-motor-powered vessels less than 16 feet in length) with a local tax collector’s office in order to legally operate them on state waters. Each registered boat must have its registration number clearly displayed, and registration papers on-board and available for inspection whenever the vessel is operated.
Equipment and Lighting Requirements:
All vessels are required to have at least one personal flotation device that is approved by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) for each passenger, as well as all USCG-mandated safety equipment. Children under the age of six must wear a USCG-approved personal flotation device at all times while aboard a vessel that is underway.
Boating Under the Influence:
It is unlawful to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In the State of Florida, a boat operator is presumed to be under the influence if he or she has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher.
How Common are Boat Accidents in Miami
In South Florida, boat accidents occur much more frequently than you may think. In fact, boat accidents are far more common in South Florida than nearly anywhere in the United States. Florida led the nation in boating accidents, deaths and injuries, according to a U.S. Coast Guard survey of 2018 marine incidents. There were 607 boat accidents last year, resulting in 57 deaths, 297 injuries and more than $7 million in property damage.
Common Causes of Boating Accidents
In South Florida, the most common type of watercraft involved in boating accidents are motorboats, personal watercraft, cabin motorboats, kayaks and canoes, and pontoon boats. Boating accidents can be caused by a number of internal and external factors. Knowing why accidents happen can help you stay safe. Common causes of boating accidents are listed below:
- Reckless operation of boat
- Poor weather conditions
- Lack of training or experience in operating boat
- Fires or explosions
- Lack of proper safety equipment
- Alcohol use
- Illegal substances
- Mechanical failure
- Improper maneuvering
- Lack of boat maintenance
- Not maintaining a safe or posted speed.
- Distracted operation of boat
Injuries in Boating Accidents
When collisions involving boats and other watercraft occur, injuries that are sustained by operators and passengers tend to be serious. It is especially perilous when boats travel at excessive speeds because passengers do not have the same safeguards that cars have such as airbags and seat belts. Some of the most common injuries sustained during boat accidents include:
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Cuts and lacerations
- Broken bones and fractures
- Spinal cord injury
- Brain injury
Steps to Follow after a Boating Accident
If personal injury occurs during a boating accident in Miami, safety becomes paramount. It is important to seek medical assistance as soon as possible. A common cause of injury in a boating accident involves brain injury from depriving the brain of oxygen in a drowning incident. Serious injuries such as bone fractures and concussions are also common when boat passengers fall or are thrown off the vessel in a collision with another boat or object. When safe to do so, document the accident by taking note of the vessel’s operator license, registration number, the location of the accident, the water and weather conditions at the time of the accident and the contact information for other individuals involved in the accident.
Unfortunately, it is common to hear of accidents involving a boat or jet-ski operator who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the accident occurred. Following an injury in a Miami boating accident, it is important to document the treatment of your injuries. We recommend keeping a diary where you can document frequency and type of treatment, any incurred expenses, missed work and the treatment progress. If a claim for damages is denied, it is important to have sufficient evidence to prove the expenses incurred as a result of a boating accident. With time, memories tend to fade and records may become lost, which the insurance companies use to avoid providing just compensation for the victims of boating accidents.
How Can a Miami Boating Accident Attorney Help You?
The victims of boating accidents in Miami, Ft Lauderdale, and the greater South Florida area are often eligible for monetary compensation for their injuries under Florida law. You may be eligible for damages covering medical expenses, future medical care, pain and suffering, lost wages, or loss of enjoyment of life. In a fatal boating accident, the victim’s family may collect for expenses, emotional trauma, and loss of companionship and financial support. The skilled lawyers at Suarez & Montero are available to help you with your Boating accident personal injury lawsuit. Our attorneys are knowledgeable about all aspects of maritime law and all local South Florida laws pertaining to boating accidents. We investigate immediately, negotiate skillfully, and litigate aggressively, seeking maximum compensation for every client. Call today for a free consultation.
Compensation for Injuries Sustained in a Boating Accident
If you have been injured in a boating accident, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against any responsible parties. Depending on the situation, the boat’s operator, owner, or manufacturer could have been at fault. Due to the varying federal, international and Florida state maritime laws, building a case for a boating accident can be a complex process. Luckily, our legal team of Miami boating accident lawyers has decades of experience handling claims involving boating accidents. With an extensive understanding of the laws involved, we can make sure you’re fully compensated for any medical bills, pain and suffering and other damages you may have experienced.
Speak to our Miami Boat Accident Lawyer Today!
At Suarez & Montero, our team of boating accident attorneys in Miami will work with you every step of the way, offering the expert legal guidance you need to win your lawsuit. We will take care of all legal matters that relate to your claim and develop the best legal strategy for your individual case to ensure the successful recovery of your damages. This includes determining the economic and non-economic compensation you’re entitled to, identifying who should be held liable for your injuries, losses and damages. We will not rest until we have developed and presented the most persuasive argument possible, and ensure you receive fair and just compensation for your damages.
Frequently Asked Questions
At the earliest stages of a personal injury claim, it is difficult to predict when, or even if your case will go to trial. To ensure that you are justly compensated, we cannot initiate settlement negotiations until your medical treatment is complete. Whereas many law firms handle their cases intending to dispose of them primarily with fast settlements, our attorneys are willing and able to bring your claim to trial to maximize your return.
Each case is unique and must be valued individually. Factors that affect the value of a case include the degree of the defendant’s fault, the nature and extent of the injuries, the length of treatment and recovery time, whether there is comparative fault, and whether punitive damages are appropriate. Clients may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, emotional trauma and mental anguish, property damage, disfigurement, and pain and suffering.
As a general rule, the attorney and client may structure their contingent fee agreement as they choose. But Florida law sets limits for the percentage of recovery that an attorney may charge. If the agreement exceeds those limits, it will be presumed to be excessive unless prior court approval is obtained to allow the attorney to charge more than the presumptive limit. Different limits are established for different stages of the litigation. Through the time of filing an answer or a demand for appointment of arbitrators, the contract may provide for a recovery of 33 1/3% up to 1 million dollars.
You must file your case within the Statute of Limitations, a fixed period of time dictated by the law. In many injury cases you are required to bring your case within four years from the date of the event that caused the injury. For an explanation of these statutory time limits, always consult with a Florida personal injury lawyer experienced in these matters.