Tampa Boating Accident Attorney
Injured at Sea? Our Tampa Boat Accident Lawyers Can Help!
Florida residents have relatively easy access to the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, the Everglades, and the many beautiful waters throughout the state. While the water can be a great place to enjoy the Florida climate, fish, or simply sail, it’s important to remember your obligations as a boat owner or operator when taking to the water. Boating accidents can be financially and physically damaging or even fatal in some cases. Additionally, anyone who works aboard a sea vessel should be familiar with the legal protections afforded to you under maritime law and the Jones Act.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a boat accident in the Tampa Bay area, call the Tampa boat accident lawyers at Williams Law, P.A. to find out more about your case. Our Tampa law firm offers FREE initial case consultations to discuss your boating accident injury and determine how we can help with your claim. Call us today to speak with a highly-respected Tampa boating accident attorney at Williams Law, P.A.
Common Causes of Tampa Boat Crashes
The five most common causes of boat accidents are:
- Driving at high speeds
- Boat operator inexperience
- Bad weather conditions
- Equipment failure
Tampa Boat Owner Responsibilities
Many Florida citizens own jet skis, canoes, motorboats, sailboats, and various other types of watercraft to enjoy the waters. It’s imperative for any watercraft owner to secure the appropriate licenses and certifications to safely and legally operate these vehicles. Additionally, it’s wise to purchase an insurance policy for your watercraft and ensure that it has the necessary safety equipment. Equipment needed on a boat are:
- Life jackets for every passenger
- Emergency flares
- Fire extinguisher
- Spare towing ropes
- Emergency water/food
- Spare paddle
When navigating waters in and around Florida, be sure to follow any posted guidelines in the area and stay alert for markers, buoys, and any other navigational structures in the water. It’s important to know the area where you intend to use your watercraft so you don’t strike any underwater hazards, shallows, or other dangerous areas.
If you’re on a lake or near where people may be swimming, use extra caution and avoid areas with swimmers. Individual swimmers are generally hard to spot because only their heads are visible above the water. A boat operator who isn’t careful could collide with a swimmer and cause serious – even fatal – injury.
Boating Accidents With Other Boats
Should your vessel collide with another, the rules for determining liability mirror those for determining fault in a car accident. If you intend to sue the operator of the other boat, you must be able to prove that he or she was negligent in handling the vessel and that this negligence caused the accident. You’ll also have to prove how much the accident cost you, both in terms of injuries and financial burden suffered because of the damage.
Florida follows a pure comparative negligence law, meaning a plaintiff can recover damages in a lawsuit even if the judge deems the plaintiff partially at fault. If you had any share of the blame in your boating accident but believe the other party contributed more to the damage, it may still be in your best interest to pursue a lawsuit.
Boating Accidents and Jet Ski Accidents
Boating accidents don’t only involve boats, they also involve other watercrafts like jet skis, wave runners, etc. Our team of Tampa boating accident attorneys are also well-versed in handling cases including other types of water craft. Contact us to see how we can help you.
What Causes Jet Ski Accidents?
Like roadway users, boaters and jet skiers have responsibilities while on Florida’s waterways. They must operate their crafts with care and obey waterway rules. These include not drinking while boating, watching for other waterway users, and staying in control of the craft at all times. Many people don’t take these rules seriously, mistakenly believing that, because they’re on the water, the laws don’t apply. These negligent parties can cause serious injuries and even kill other waterway users. Jet ski accidents can stem from:
- Operators under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Incompetent or inexperienced watercraft operators
- Children operating boats or jet skis
- Speeding on the waterway
- Failing to scan the water for divers or swimmers
- Improper watercraft maintenance
- Watercraft part failures
According to data by the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol use is the leading factor in fatal waterway accidents. The highest number of accidents occur from collisions with recreational vessels, followed by collisions with fixed objects and vessel flooding. Understanding the most common causes of watercraft accidents in Florida can help you avoid becoming a victim. You cannot, however, control the actions of others on the waterway. If someone else caused or contributed to your recent accident, speak to our jet ski attorneys. You may have the opportunity to sue the negligent party for compensation.
Partial Liability for Florida Jet Ski Accidents
When operating a personal watercraft like a jet ski, operators must take due care to follow the rules of the waterway. Jet skiers must operate their crafts with care and according to the watercraft’s instruction manual. Speeding, performing tricks, and riding with too many passengers are all examples of dangerous operation. There are many jet ski accidents in which more than one party is at fault. After a waterway crash, the other party may likely try to use the comparative negligence defense. They may argue you were also responsible.
Even if you think you contributed to your collision, speak to our attorneys. It’s possible that you could still recover a partial award for your injuries. Florida is a “pure” comparative negligence state, meaning you could potentially take home an award regardless of your percentage of fault (unless the courts find you 100% at fault). In “modified” comparative negligence states, the courts must find the plaintiff below a certain percentage of fault – typically 49-51% – for the person to be eligible for compensation.
What to Do After a Jet Ski Accident in Tampa
Regardless of the circumstances of your jet ski or boating accident, contact our attorneys as soon as possible. You may be able to bring a personal injury claim against the other party on the grounds of negligence, recklessness, or criminal acts. There are many waterway laws in Tampa Bay that could apply to your specific case and help you receive compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Employee Protections for Tampa Boat Accidents
Many Florida residents work at sea, and the laws for injuries aboard sea vessels aim to protect injured employees from negligent employers. While most injured employees on land can depend on workers’ compensation insurance, this does not apply to employees who work at sea. The Jones Act allows injured seamen to sue negligent employers when their negligence causes injuries. Maritime law can be complex. Anyone injured while working at sea should reach out to an experienced Tampa boating accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Boating and enjoying watercraft activities in Florida can be fun, but it’s important to remember your obligations on the water. You must also remember your options for legal recourse should someone else cause a boating accident. Williams Law, P.A. wants to help injured boaters in Tampa and the surrounding areas that they can depend on our firm after boating accidents. Reach out to our team of Tampa boat accident attorneys to schedule a free consultation, and we’ll be happy to let you know how we can help.