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 County's Top Boating Accident Injury Lawyer providing experienced Boating Accident Injury legal representation in Central Florida

Each year, the Coast Guard logs over 4,000 boating accidents.  As a result, watercraft incidents cause over 600 deaths, 2,500 injuries, and $46 million in property damage each year.

When someone is injured on or by a boat because of someone else’s negligence, they deserve compensation.  This is true even if the injury was due to a defect in the boat’s design. Monetary compensation can help with financial losses caused by their injury.

Boating injury victims may be entitled to reimbursement for their medical costs.  They may also receive compensation for their pain and suffering.  Furthermore, their lost income and lost earning capacity may need to be reimbursed.  And they may be entitled to reimbursement for their damaged property.  Finally, the victim’s spouse might be entitled to receive compensation for their loss of companionship.

It’s important to note, however, that watercraft accidents and injuries can happen through no fault of anyone. In order to pursue an injury claim, there must be adequate proof of negligent actions that caused 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 to contain certain specified safety equipment, depending on vessel size.

Class A recreational boats are under 16 feet long and include kayaks and canoes.  Such crafts must carry the following:

Class 1 recreational vessels range between 16 feet and under 26 feet long.  In addition to the safety equipment described above, these vessels must also carry:

Furthermore, each passenger under the age of 6 must wear a Personal Floatation Device at all times. Also, if the boat is on coastal waters, it must carry visual distress signals.

In addition to all the above, when operating on Federally controlled waters, Class 2 and Class 3 recreational vessels must carry:

Furthermore, fire extinguisher types are delineated according to various boat types and sizes.

A boat owner’s failure to have appropriate safety equipment on board could lead to a claim of negligence against them.

Collision with a Submerged Rock, Land, or Other Fixed Object

Even during the best weather and clear visibility, a boat can hit a visibly undetected, submerged object. In poor weather or during times of poor visibility, boats can hit a jetty or run aground on the coastline. If a collision with a fixed object causes a passenger's injury (or death),  the boat’s operator or owner may be liable, depending on the circumstances. A vessel operator who travels slowly and cautiously and who carries local nautical charts will probably not be assigned blame if they hit a submerged object. Likewise, if they are speeding in the dark through dense fog and collide with a submerged object, they will probably be found negligent for any injuries that occur as a result.

Collision with Another Boat

When two boats collide, both boats’ operators must typically share the blame. 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, when a sailboat and a motorboat collide, the motorboat is more likely to be assigned blame.  This is 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 boat operator who 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 violates boating safety rules, and the operator is 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 are similar to those caused when a boat hits 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. Vessel operators must understand boat safety basics and boating navigation rules. Operators must also be able to handle boating emergencies as they transpire.

Failure of the Boat Operator to Pay Attention

The law requires boat operators to be alert and aware of all activity and circumstances surrounding the watercraft. 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. Some dangerous conditions arise suddenly.  However, many adverse weather conditions are 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 is another common cause of boating accidents and injuries. Boats must operate at a safe speed, which allows the vessel operator time to react when they encounter other boats or 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, ensuring its operating safety.

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. Most states agree that a boat operator is legally impaired if they have an 0.08% blood alcohol level .

Now that I've been injured in a boating accident, what do I do?

If you were injured by a boat operator’s negligence, you have the right to be compensated. 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.

Dean Burnetti Law Can Help...

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,
Lakeland, Florida 33803

Lakeland: (863) 287-6388

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