Fort Pierce is best known for its mesmerizing waterways, where boating is one of the most favorite pastimes. The city boasts a barrier island and an Atlantic Ocean coastline stretching across miles.
Although most boating trips are safe, accidents do happen, thereby resulting in severe boating injuries. Every year, locals and tourists get injured on speedboats, jet skis, and chartered fishing vessels. These injuries are quite severe and sometimes may even be life-threatening.
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Boating Injuries – Alarming Statistics
According to the Florida Wildlife Commission:
- Approximately 766 boating accidents were reported in 2017
- These boating accidents led to 67 fatalities and nearly 437 injuries.
- During the same year, 52 percent of the boating accident deaths resulted from drowning, and 43 percent resulted from the trauma of being in such an accident. After all, boating accidents can be overwhelming and frightening as you are left at sea far away from land.
And did you know that, according to the US Coast Guard Boating Safety Division, the most dangerous state in the US for fatal boat accidents in Florida, with nearly 679 boating accidents in 2019? The figure may be lower than recorded in 2017 but is higher than the figures in other states. Boating accidents cost Florida an estimate of a total of more than $9.2 million in damage.
Steps to Take If You Are in a Boating Accident
If you are in a boating accident, here’s what you should do immediately:
Seek Medical Aid
If you are injured in a boating accident and aboard, seek medical aid without any delay. It is because symptoms of injuries may take longer to appear. You may feel fine after the accident but realize hours later that you are severely hurt.
However, if you have fallen overboard, you need to shout for help so that other people on the boat can rescue you. And if the boat is broken or sinking, climb on to floating debris and signal for help. It is advisable that whenever you are at sea, you must wear a life jacket. It will keep you afloat.
Move the Boast to a Safe Location
Move the boat to a safe location to ensure that you’re not in harm’s way. The vessel should be moved away from oncoming boats’ path to avoid getting hit by another passing boat again.
Contact the Coast Guard for Help
Severe boating injuries cannot be treated on the boat. It would be best if you got on the shore to seek aid. Therefore, reach out to the coast guard to report the boating accident and ask for help. According to your situation, they will arrange resources and ensure you are rescued.
However, once you contact the coast guard, make sure you stay in the same location to find you easily. The coast guard will also create a report detailing the accident by collecting evidence from the scene, talking to passengers, boat operators, and inspecting vessel damage. This report is crucial from an insurance coverage perspective as it will help you prove fault and get fairly compensated for injuries sustained.
Gather Information about the Boating Accident
While you wait for the coast guard and ascertain that you’re out of immediate danger, try gathering information about the boating accident on your own. Information that you should try to collect at the accident scene includes:
- Boat operator’s name, address, and phone number
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of the passengers aboard any of the vessels in the accident
- Identification and registration number of the vessels involved in the collision
- Insurance policy number and company names of those who are involved in the accident
If you have a smartphone, take some photographs of the surroundings and boats damaged. Also, take photos of the safety gear on board, visible injuries, and any other thing that may serve as valuable evidence when you file a compensation claim for boating injuries and safety in Fort Pierce.
Report the Boating Accident
According to Florida’s federal law, you need to file a boating accident report if:
- Some are killed
- Someone drowns and disappears from the vessel.
- Someone is injured severely and need proper medical care beyond first aid.
- If the damage to the boat is more than $2000
Consult and Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer for Boating Injuries and Safety in Fort Pierce
After the boating accident has concluded, and you are seeking medical treatment for injuries, make sure to contact our experienced Fort Pierce personal injury lawyer for legal assistance. Schedule a consultation with our lawyer to determine whether there is a legal claim against the third party or the boating operator.
Our attorney will review your case carefully and suggest the best course of legal action in your situation. At Shiner Law Group, we are strongly committed to helping victims fully compensated for boating injuries sustained due to someone else’s negligence or careless behavior. Fort Pierce residents have trusted us for legal services and case representation for boating and watercraft accidents for years.
Why Choose Our Attorney for Boating Accident Claim?
It is crucial to hire our lawyer after a boating accident for all the right reasons. Here are some of them:
- Unlike accidents that happen on land, watercraft and boating accidents are unique. The physical evidence often gets washed away by the water or sinks below the surface.
- Besides this, there are a handful of boat reconstruction experts than there are for auto accidents in Florida.
Thus, it is difficult to justify your claim amount unless you have a seasoned and knowledgeable boating accident lawyer in Fort Pierce, like ours representing and handling your case. Our wealth of experience and skills in the boating accident domain and access to boat reconstruction experts enable us to protect our clients’ rights, investigate the case in-depth, and maximize your compensation claim. We have the requisite knowledge and expertise to pursue maritime injury and wrongful death claims and get you the compensation you and your family deserve.
What are Typical Causes of Boat Accident Injuries?
Boating injuries and accidents in Fort Pierce, Florida, can occur in many ways. However, the most common causes are:
Collision with other boats
Boat operators must comply with 1972 (72 COLREGS) International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea or 33 CFR 83 the Inland Navigation Rules. They are obligated by law to be familiar with and follow the boat operation rules for passenger safety and minimize accidents.
In particular, they must abide by:
- Rule 7 – the risk of collision
- Rule 8 – action to avoid a collision
- Rule 14 – Head-on Situation
It observed that boat operators disobey rule 14, which results in accidents. Rule 14 states that when two boats are near or meeting on reciprocal courses, each should alter their course to starboard to avoid a head-on situation.
Thus, when two boats collide, the fault is determined based on the maritime rules. If the negligent party’s boat operator failed to keep a proper lookout, did not use proper port to port passing in to avoid a head-on, and failed to make alterations, shall be held responsible. It mainly shows their negligence and non-compliance with the maritime rules of the road.
Fire is another reason for boat injuries. A boat may catch fire for a variety of reasons such as:
- Fuel leakage
- Engine failure
- Equipment malfunction
This is precisely why the US Coast Guard mandates that boats less than 26 feet should carry 1 type B fire extinguisher. However, vessels between 26 feet and 40 feet should have 2 type B-1 or 1 type B-II fire extinguishers unless they already have an approved fixed system. Similarly, for vessels that are of 40 feet or nearly 65 feet, they are mandated to have either three type B-1 or 1 type B-II and type 1 B-1 unless they already have an approved fixed system.
In situations where the boat ignites and catches fire, passengers onboard may have very little time to act and respond. Thus, it is advisable to wear your lifejacket and abandon the boat. However, the boat operator should follow the proper safety measures and procedures of using a fire extinguisher aiming at the flames’ base to put out the fire safely before anyone gets hurt or injured. Simultaneously, you must summon for help on the radio.
But as mentioned above, when the fire erupts on a boat, there is practically no time to react, which often leads to devastating personal injuries.
Overboard and Drowning Accidents
Sometimes workers or passengers may fall overboard. The impact can injure them seriously and also render them unconscious. And this, along with harsh water conditions, lack of life jackets, the ability to swim, and injuries that interfere with a person’s ability to stay above water, can lead to drowning accidents.
Suction into Vessel’s Propellers
Sometimes injuries may occur because of motorboat propellers. Propeller injuries may occur when passengers accidentally fall over the bow or climb on the swim platform while the vessel is in gear. Another cause of suction into and injuries from vessel propellers is when the boat operator negligently tries to reverse towards a skier or anybody else in the water.
Propeller injuries are catastrophic and often result in death. If the victim survives, they are likely to live with lifelong pain or a permanent disability. These injuries require costly treatments and a long recovery time, which can be financially burdening. It is best to consult a lawyer to determine the best legal procedure to get compensated and ensure financial stability in such a situation.
Reckless or Speeding Vessel Operation
It may be fun to go super fast on the water and feel the wind blowing through your hair, but at the same time, it can be hazardous. Operating a boat recklessly can result in an accident and, thus, injuries or wrongful death.
The Florida law states that a boat operator that disregards passengers’ safety or property at speed and in a way that they endanger life or limb and damage property or injure another person shall be held guilty of reckless vessel operation.
Just like roadways, most waterways also have speed limits. So, excessive speed can increase collisions with other boats and even other hazards, such as a rollover.
Piloting a boat safely is difficult. Thus, as per the International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea Rule 5, boat operators must always maintain a proper lookout by sight and hearing; and any other appropriate means possible in the prevailing conditions and circumstances to avoid collisions and risk of injuries.
However, we often see operators being distracted by modern-day technologies. Talking on mobile phones, emailing, texting, and playing music on the vessel through a handheld device are some activities that can lead to distracted piloting, and hence boating accidents.
Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
Another cause of boating injuries in Fort Pierce is Boating Under Influence. Did you know that nearly 25 percent of drug use and alcohol abuse contribute to a boating accident? It is a violation of Florida law where a vessel’s operation is prohibited while impaired by drugs or alcohol use.
It’s crucial to understand that it is strictly against the law to use vessels like aquaplane, boats, water skis, and other similar vessels under drugs’ influence. This may include a barbiturate, narcotic drug, or marijuana, as these drugs can impair a person’s normal functioning.
Not many people know that alcohol is one of the many factors in boat accidents. Imagine if the skipper or the boat operator is intoxicated. They are unlikely to perform necessary and legally required rescue in a boat accident and where passengers are ejected from the boat into the water.
As per the law, it is the vessel owner’s responsibility to ensure proper maintenance and routine checks. If the boat owner/operator fails to keep the boat in good condition, it may increase the risk of mechanical failure such as:
- Failure of the steering mechanism
- Motor breakdown
- Problems with the hull of the vessel
So, in case you experience injuries due to a machinery failure, rest assured we’ll make sure that justice is served to you. In such a situation, the vessel owner and boat operator shall be held responsible.
Rapid tidal flows and sudden current changes can make the water hazardous and difficult to operate the vessel. While some waters are not easy to predict, some rough areas tend to attract small-sized vessel operators. Therefore, boat operators should be mindful of such conditions and ready to cope with them. Failure to do so can increase the risk of injuries.
Sometimes a wake or force of waves can cause water disturbance resulting from the boat’s hull passage, causing accidents, injuries, and even deaths.
Among the top three contributing factors for boating accidents and injuries is operator inexperience. Inexperienced boat operators who have not taken any boater safety education courses can pose a danger to them, passengers, and other vessels.
If you are in an accident because of an inexperienced operator, then you have the right to get compensated. However, it is essential first to consult our lawyer. We’ll assess the situation to determine if the boat involved in an injury claim was negligently entrusted to the inexperienced operator and lacked knowledge on navigating the boat. From navigation rules to admiralty law and handling the boat in emergencies, all boat operators should understand boating basics.
Get Trusted Expertise for Your Boating Injuries and Safety in Fort Pierce, FL
Whether you are a dock worker or a seaman who got injured on the job, or maybe a recreational boater sustained an injury due to someone else’s negligence, then you shall be entitled to compensation. However, navigating through the maritime laws alone is never advisable as they are complicated. Simply, get trusted expertise from us. We can help you understand your rights and provide quality guidance on the legal options you can pursue to seek justice and financial compensation.
Expert in boating injuries and safety in Fort Pierce, our attorney will handle and manage every aspect of your case from start to finish while focusing on recovery. Our goal is to get you compensated while ensuring a stress-free and smooth legal process.
The perfect combination of our rich experience, fierce advocacy, and a profound understanding of the unique challenges involved in different types of boating accidents gives us an edge over others. We will fight relentlessly to get you what you are entitled to when you have been affected by an accident on the water in Fort Pierce. Contact us for a free legal consultation. With us, you don’t have to settle for less. At Shiner Law Group we go the extra mile to ensure your financial security and peace of mind. Let us help.