Dean Burnetti Law

About Boating Accident Injuries

Lakeland Boating Accident Lawyer Dean Burnetti provides professional Boat Accident and Injury Attorney legal services in Polk County, including: Lakeland, Auburndale, Bartow, Davenport, Dundee, Eagle Lake, Fort Meade, Frostproof, Haines City, Highland Park, Hillcrest Heights, Lake Alfred, Lake Hamilton, Lake Wales, Mulberry, Polk City, and Winter Haven; in Highlands County, including: Avon Park, Lake Placid, Lorida, Sebring, Venus, Placid Lake, and Sylvan Shores; and in Hardee County, including: Bowling Green, Ona, Wauchula, Zolfo Springs, Gardner, and Limestone; and all of the Greater Central Florida Area.

Dean Burnetti Law, Polk's Leading Boating Accident Injury Attorneys

In 2017, the United States Coast Guard logged 4,291 boating or watercraft related accidents that involved 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries, and approximately $46 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.

When someone is injured on – or by – a boat due to the negligence of another person, party, entity, or even because of a defect in the boat’s design, they deserve monetary compensation to help with the financial losses they sustained due to their injury. 

Just as with other types of personal injury cases, boating injury victims can entitled to reimbursed for the cost of their medical care, compensation for their pain and suffering, reimbursement of their lost income, reimbursement of their lost earning capacity, as well as reimbursement for their damaged property and a spouse’s compensation for the loss of companionship.

It’s important to note, however, that accidents and injuries can happen on boats or other watercrafts through no fault of any one.  This means, that in order for you to be able to pursue a claim for your injuries, it must first be proven that someone was clearly negligent in the actions that led to your injury.

The majority of personal or pleasure boating accidents include the following scenarios:

Failure of the Boat Owner to Have and Maintain Legally Required Safety Equipment on Board
Florida’s boating laws require all personal or pleasure boats, no matter how small, to have certain types of safety equipment on board. 

Class A recreational boats under 16 feet in length (including kayaks and canoes) must carry boat lighting equipment, a ventilation system, a sound-producing device, such as a bell, whistle, or horn, fire extinguishers of the right size and type, visual distress signals if the boat is on coastal waters or high sea, and one U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, or III Personal Floatation Device for every person on board or being towed.

Class 1 recreational vessels ranging from 16 feet to less than 26 feet in length, in addition to the safety equipment described above, also require one throwable Type IV, U.S. Coast Guard -approved device in serviceable condition, and backfire flame control.  Furthermore, all passengers under the age of 6 must wear an approved Type I, II, or III Personal Floatation Device while the vessel is out of dock.  If the boat is
on coastal waters or high seas, it will also need approved visual distress signals for nighttime and daytime use.

In addition to all the above, Class 2 and Class 3 recreational vessels must have both a whistle and a bell that can be heard from one nautical mile away when operating on Federally controlled waters.  Furthermore, fire extinguishers need to be specifically matched to the boat type and length.

Injury (or death) caused by the lack of proper safety equipment on board could lead to a claim of negligence against the boat’s owner.

Collision with a Submerged Rock, Land, or Other Fixed Object
Even during the best of weather and clear visibility, a boat can hit a submerged object that is visibly undetected.  In poor weather or during times of poor visibility, boats can hit a jetty or run aground on the coastline.  If an injury (or death) to a passenger occurs due to a collision with a fixed object, the boat’s operator or owner may be liable, depending on the circumstances.  If the vessel’s operator is traveling slowly and cautiously and has nautical charts of the area, but hits a submerged object, they will probably not be found to be negligent.  Likewise, if they are speeding in the dark with dense fog in the area, and collide with a submerged object, they will likely be found to be negligent if someone is injured.

Collision with Another Boat
When two boats collide, both boats’ operators are typically found to be partially at fault.  Because of this, injured passengers of either boat may make a legal claim against both of the boats’ operators.  If one vessel operator was injured, he or she would be allowed to make a claim against the other boat operator if the injured party was found to be less than fifty percent responsible for the collision.

Likewise, in instances when a sailboat and a motorboat collide, the motorboat is more likely to be found negligent because maritime laws require motorboats to give sailboats the right of way and stay clear of them.

Hitting Another Boat’s Wake
When a boat suddenly hits the big wake of another boat, the jolt can knock standing passengers to their knees, thrust seated passengers out of their seats, and even toss them overboard.  Unfortunately, liability for a wake accident can be hazy at best.  Safe boating practices, as well as boating laws, require boat operators to be diligent in their observation of potential hazards which could damage their boat or injure their passengers.  In the event of a wake accident, liability depends on various circumstances, including:

Depending on various circumstances, the operator of the boat that created the wake could also be legally negligent.  If the boats were in a no wake zone (such as in inner harbors or marinas), even a small wake would violate the boating safety rules, and the operator would be negligent.  If the boat was speeding through a busy area among other boats, causing a large wake, it’s possible that the operator who caused the wake could be found negligent for creating too large of a wake for the area.  However, if the wake accident occurred in an isolated area, the boat operator who caused the wake is unlikely to be found negligent.

Hitting a Wave
Injuries caused by a boat hitting a wave can be similar to those caused by a boat hitting a wake.  However, since there is no other boat to hold liable, the boat operator’s negligence will depend on the same type of circumstances as in a wake accident, including:

An Inexperienced Vessel Operator
The United States Coast Guard cites vessel operator inexperience as a common cause of boat crashes. All vessel operators are required to understand the basics of safely operating a boat as well as the boating navigation rules. Operators must also be able to handle boating emergencies as they transpire.

Failure of the Boat Operator to Pay Attention
Boat operators are legally required to be alert and maintain a sense of awareness of what is going on around the watercraft, both in activity and in circumstance.  If another vessel’s operator and/or the operator of the boat on which you are riding fails to pay attention and, in doing so, causes an injury, this could result in a legal claim or personal injury lawsuit.

Failure of the Boat Operator to Properly Watch for Hazards
Often, a conscientious boat operator designates a “lookout” to help them spot any potential hazards.  When they fail to do so, this increases the likelihood that they may collide with another boat or some other obstacle in the water.

Dangerous Weather Conditions and Perilous Waters
Both weather and water conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly.  While some dangerous conditions cannot be predicted, many adverse weather or water conditions can be anticipated. Watercraft operators have a duty to be aware of all potential water and weather dangers that may arise.

Violating or Neglecting to Observe Navigational Rules
Just as there are traffic laws on the road, there are navigational rules that apply to driving in the water.  If a boat operator fails to follow the rules of navigation and causes a collision that injures a passenger on his or another boat, that operator is legally liable for that person’s injuries and the financial obligations that arise from those injuries.

Speeding (or failure to observe a safe speed) is another common cause of boating accidents that cause injuries.  Just like with automobiles, boats must be operated at a safe speed, which allows the vessel operator time to react when they encounter other boats or other dangers on the water.

Equipment Failure
There are strict laws regarding equipment and its maintenance on all watercraft in Florida.  Proper equipment maintenance is vital for operating the watercraft safely.  The boat’s owner is legally responsible to maintain the boat and its equipment in a method that ensures that it is safe to be operated in water.

Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs (whether illegal, prescribed, or over the counter), causes a significant percentage of serious injuries and deaths on the water. Just as in all 50 states of the U.S. agree that an automobile driver with a 0.8% blood alcohol level means they are considered to be impaired, most states also consider a boat operator with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% to be legally impaired.

So, after being injured in a boating accident, what do I do?
Similarly to a car accident legal claim, if a boat operator’s negligence caused you to become injured, you are entitled to monetary compensation.  This compensation would cover your physical and mental pain and suffering, your lost wages, your loss of earning capacity, scarring, anticipated future medical treatment, and the value of your medical bills already incurred by the accident.

No matter how you were injured or if a loved one was killed in a boating accident and you aren’t sure what your options are, the attorneys and staff at Dean Burnetti Law are familiar with every aspect of your case.  They are eager to navigate the legal system for you as you travel down the road to physical and financial recovery.  Call Dean Burnetti Law at 863-287-6388 today to schedule your free and confidential consultation.

The attorneys and staff at Dean Burnetti Law are familiar with every aspect of Boating Accident Injuries, including soft tissue damage, bone injuries, nerve damage, organ damage, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, burns, and even drowning or other causes of death. Our team is highly qualified and waiting to serve you.

Dean Burnetti, Esq

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1937 East Edgewood Drive, Suite 102,
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