It is no mistake that Florida is dubbed “The Sunshine State.” Blessed with a warm climate and an abundance of bodies of water, it is perennially a go-to local tourist destination. People of all ages flock to Florida to enjoy what it has to offer. Senior citizens move to Florida to spend their retirement years in the warmth of the State. Families travel to Florida for its amusement parks and other attractions such as zoos with exotic animals, while university students and young professionals spend their spring break here to bask in the state’s beautiful sunshine.
Because of its climate and many beaches, you will never run out of activities to take part in here in Florida. With its many pubs and bars that are open until the wee hours of the morning, you can have fun with your friends and family. During the day, families can spend their time at the beach and try out the many activities available, such as riding in boats. However, with all the fun to be had, there are also dangers to look out for.
While we don’t always plan for things to go wrong, there are instances in which they are unavoidable, especially when our activities involve heavy machinery and the open waters. This can lead to injuries to yourself, members of your family, or friends.
Keep reading to find out what causes Florida boating accidents and what to do if you are ever in one.
What should I do when reporting Florida boating accidents?
Cases of boating accidents in Florida seem to be on a steady rise. In fact, because Florida has the most number of registered boats than any other state in the country, it also accounts for the most number of boating accidents, making up 10% of the total number. In 2018, there were 625 cases of boating accidents reported in Florida. Out of this number, there were 59 fatalities and 307 serious injuries. 2019 saw a rise in the number of cases by 11.5%, with 723 cases of boat collisions being reported. The number of cases even rose further in 2020, which saw 836 cases of boating accidents.
Of 836, 402 involved collisions, and 44% of this was attributable to the boat operator’s inattention. Boat operators are supposed to treat boat operations similarly to driving a car or a truck. Undivided attention is required and any form of distraction should be avoided. However, distractions can’t always be avoided and this can lead the boat operator to fail to recognize the dangers present, such as other boats present in the waters with them. Other reasons why boat accidents occur are: the intoxication of the boat driver; inexperienced operators; equipment failure; speeding; etc.
Regardless of how the accident happened or who caused it, everyone involved in a Florida boat crash is required to stay at the scene, render assistance to anyone who needs it, and call the authorities to report the crash. There are certain situations in which you are also required to file an official report with the U.S. Coast Guard. As a responsible boater, it is important that you understand these requirements and take the necessary steps to protect yourself, your family, and any potential claim for damages at the scene of the accident. You might also need to call a boat accident lawyer in order to protect your rights, either as an injured party or as the one who caused the accident.
When a Boating Accident Must Be Reported
If you were involved in a boating accident and believe the driver of the other boat was speeding, driving recklessly, or drunk, you should call the police or Coast Guard regardless of injuries or damage and make the appropriate report. Federal law requires that a collision on the water be reported to U.S. authorities within 48 hours of the crash if any of the following are true:
- Someone died in the crash.
- Someone was seriously injured and required medical treatment beyond first aid.
- A person is missing, and there is reason to believe they were injured or killed.
- There is damage to vessels or other property totaling $2,000 or more.
A recreational boating accident report form from the Coast Guard will ask for detailed information about the vessels and people involved, the injuries and damages sustained, and possible factors that contributed to the crash, including the following:
- Alcohol or drug use
- Excessive speed
- Overloading of the vessel
- Hazardous weather conditions
- Violations of navigation rules
- Improper anchoring
- Operator inattention or inexperience
- Machinery or equipment failure
- Sudden medical events such as seizures or heart attacks
These reports must be completed by someone from each of the boats involved in the crash. If you or someone on your boat was seriously injured and the driver of the other boat is found to be at fault, this report could help a potential personal injury claim later on.
Florida Boating Accidents Are Deadly Serious
In 2018, there were over 625 reported boating accidents in Florida, including 59 fatalities and 307 serious injuries. Residents of Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Navarre, and Niceville who are injured in boating accidents caused by irresponsible boaters should contact a boating accident attorney to discuss the possibility of holding the responsible party liable for their losses. Browning Law Firm welcomes boating accident injury claims and invites you to schedule a free initial consultation today.