Fort Pierce is a popular place for boating in Florida. Featuring a barrier island and miles of deep blue and scenic Atlantic Ocean coastline, Fort Pierce is best known for its stunning waterways. Though most boat trips in Fort Pierce are safe, accidents can occur. Maritime injuries can be serious and at times even life-threatening. Hence, a boating accident can incur high medical costs, loss of wages, mental anguish, loss of future earnings, pain, and suffering. In such a situation, you need an experienced, knowledgeable, and professional Fort Peirce boat accident lawyer to fight your case and help you get compensated for injuries and losses incurred.
Contact Shiner Law Group today to discuss your case with our seasoned Fort Pierce boat accident lawyer. We will review your case in detail and provide you with the best legal course of action. If a death of a loved one has resulted from a boating accident in Fort Pierce, you can also file a wrongful death claim. The Shiner Law Group provides our clients with legal assistance with compassion, commitment, and care. We go the extra mile to get justice.
What is Considered a Boating Accident in Fort Pierce?
A boating accident is any accident that occurs on a vessel or as a result of the vessel’s operation. Slip and fall or trip and fall, improper boating operation, and collision all qualify as boating accidents. Passengers injured on motorboats, yachts, cruise ships, pleasure boats, water taxis, and jet skis can also file a boat accident claim.
Fort Pierce Boating Accident Statistics
According to the U.S. Coast Guard survey in the year 2020:
- The total number of boating accidents reported was 5,265
- Death caused by boating accident were 767
- Injuries caused by boating accidents were 3,191
- Approximately $62.5 million of property damage occurred due to recreational boating accidents.
The fatality rate was 6.5 deaths/100,000 registered recreational vessels, which should be a 25 percent increase from the death rate due to boating accidents recorded in 2019. Moreover, compared to 2019 statistics, boating accidents soared by 26.3 percent in 2020 while the number of deaths and injuries increased by 25.1 and 24.7 percent, respectively.
Florida, in particular, also saw an increase in the total number of boating accidents between 2019 and 2020. Statistics for Florida show that there were:
- 679 boating accidents in 2019 and 804 accidents in 2020
- 62 deaths due to boating accidents in 2019 in Florida, while the number increased in 2020, resulting in 72 deaths.
- Though these statistics are frightening, understanding the top causes of boating accidents in Fort Pierce is crucial to keep safe and minimize risk, plus you can be aware of when you may be eligible to file a claim.
Before we discuss the top causes, here is a quick overview of some of the common vessels on which boating accidents occur. These include:
- Cruise ships
- Inflatable boats
- Cabin cruisers
Top Causes for Boat Accidents in Fort Pierce
Boat accidents can occur due to many reasons—environmental and human error. Take a look at the top causes for boat accidents that may qualify for a compensation claim in Fort Pierce, Florida.
The captain of the boat must be attentive at all times. They have to be aware of the wind, water, and weather conditions. Failure to do so can lead to accidents with other vessels or fixed objects such as piers. When boat operators are inattentive or distracted, they fail to respond to volatile water or weather conditions promptly and appropriately. Hence, accidents become inevitable.
Inexperienced Boat Operator
This is the second leading cause of boat accidents. Statistics show that in 2020 nearly 612 accidents occurred because of inexperienced boat operators, which caused 343 injuries and 56 fatalities. Operating a boat is not simple. The boat captain (in charge of piloting the vessel) should be experienced, knowledgeable and certified with safety training. Inexperienced operators are far more likely to violate boating regulations and engage in risky behaviors resulting in accidents.
When cruising on the waterways of Fort Pierce, the designated lookout person must stay focused. However, failure to do so can inadvertently cause accidents as they may fail to warn the captain about the hazard or obstacle in the way. According to Recreational Boating Statistics 2020, improper lookout led to 578 accidents in the U.S. which caused 409 injuries and 28 deaths.
Speeding is one of the top and primary contributing factors to boat accidents. Though you may feel the thrill and adrenaline rush when the boat speeds, there is no need to rush because the current can change at any moment. This means that objects can become visible and appear out of nowhere, resulting in collisions and severe injuries. Therefore, it is advisable to maintain a boat speed that is easy to control and manage no matter what comes in the way.
When miles away from land, the last thing you want is to experience a mechanical failure or watch your boat catch fire. Although boat fires are increasingly rare, they happen and can expose passengers and boat operators to the risk of severe injuries and fatalities. Additionally, mechanical failure like defective parts or equipment malfunctioning occurs because of a flaw in the vessel design or poor maintenance.
Anyone piloting the boat must be aware of the navigation rules. These rules help the operator properly navigate and interact with other vessels in the water and are one of the best ways to prevent boat accidents. However, the risk of accidents increases when boat operators violate the navigation rules.
Hazardous Weather Conditions
Weather changes rapidly in large bodies of water. Hence, failure to monitor the weather while at sea increases the risk of an accident.
The operator needs to stay sober because alcohol slows reflexes and clouds judgment. Operator impairment can cause accidents even at sea. However, staying sober isn’t easy as intoxicating substances are common to many boating activities. And even if the operator remains substance-free, intoxicated passengers can cause extreme distraction.
If you have been injured in a boat accident or lost a loved one due to any of the reasons stated above, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our Fort Pierce boat accident lawyer. Our lawyer will evaluate your case and provide you with the best guidance and step-by-step assistance much needed to ensure that you get the compensation entitled to. Severe Fort Pierce boating injuries may result in hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain management, lost wages, physical therapy, and diminished physical capacity.
Understanding the Responsibility of a Fort Pierce Boat Operator
In Florida, boat operators and owners must ensure that passengers on the boat are safe at all times. Therefore, boats should be operated responsibly by experts to prevent injury risk. If they do not fulfill this responsibility, victims can hold them legally liable for boating accidents.
All boats in Florida, including Fort Pierce, must fulfill the state’s registration and marking requirements. Plus, the boaters must be aware of the navigation rules and causes behind boating violations. Additionally, safety laws mandate boat owners to supply safety jackets to the passengers and carry all the necessary safety equipment before they head out to sea. This includes fire extinguishers, throwable rings, flares, and navigational lights.
If your injuries are worse due to a lack of safety equipment in a boating accident, the boat operator or owner may be held negligent and responsible. However, how your Fort Pierce boat accident attorney pursues the case will make all the difference. With our experienced lawyer for your case representation, you can be confident that you will get justice and be rightfully compensated.
Types of Boating Accident Injuries in Fort Pierce
The injuries sustained in a boating accident can vary depending on factors like:
- How it occurred
- Nature of the boating accident
- The scale of the accident
However, some of the most common injuries in boating accidents are:
- Brain injuries
- Bruises and scrapes
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord damage
- Internal organ injury
Fort Pierce Boat Accident Attorney Frequently Asked Questions
After a boat accident in Fort Pierce, victims have many boat accident legal questions in their minds related to whether or not and how to recover compensation. Take a look at the FAQs below to learn more about compensation recovery and boating accidents from a legal standpoint.
Do I have to prove negligence for a boating accident in Fort Pierce, FL?
Yes, to get compensated, the victim must prove negligence. You must prove that the other boater failed to operate with reasonable care or violated the law. For example, they were boating under the influence, without a license, or operating the vessel recklessly and carelessly. Therefore, you must prove they had an obligation to operate safely, but they ignored and breached it, thereby causing severe injuries to you.
What to do after a Fort Pierce boating accident?
Once you are in a boating accident in Fort Pierce, you should first seek medical aid. Ask the boat operator to call for help using their radio or mobile phone. Once you address your medical needs, you need to report Florida boating accidents to avoid penalties, fines, and loss of evidence.
Also, contact our Fort Pierce boat accident lawyer to discuss your legal options and ways to recover compensation for injuries and losses sustained.
Vessel operators in Florida must report the boating accident if:
- A life is lost
- Somebody has disappeared or gone missing
- There are substantial injuries that require treatment beyond first aid
- There is a total loss of a vessel
- The damage caused by accident equals at least $2,000
You must report to the following:
- The Law Enforcement Division of FWC (the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
- The county sheriff
- The police department of the municipality
Remember that you can get charged with a criminal offense if you fail to report promptly.
Why should I hire a Fort Pierce boat accident attorney?
You can enjoy many benefits if you hire our lawyer for a boat accident in Fort Pierce. These include:
- Step-by-step legal assistance
- A stress-free experience
- Quality case representation
- In-depth case investigation and evidence collection
- Filing of the claim and completing all paperwork
- Negotiation with the insurance company
At Shiner Law Group, we never settle for less. If negotiations are not fruitful, we will take the case for trial. Our goal at Shiner Law Group is to get you fully compensated for the injuries sustained so that you can cope set on the path to recovery without the financial burden.
What is the Statute of Limitations for boating accidents in Florida?
The Florida statute of limitations for a boat accident governed by Florida law is four years starting from the accident date. The Florida state boating law applies to waters that are within the boundaries of the state.
On the other hand, boating accidents where the admiralty law takes precedence should be filed three years after the accident. Federal maritime or admiralty law primarily takes precedent in private or nautical maritime disputes on the lakes, bays, rivers of the Atlantic Ocean waters, which are shared between states.
Who can pursue a boat accident lawsuit?
Any person who is injured or has incurred a loss in a boat accident because of negligent conduct can file a lawsuit.
What can a victim of negligence in a boat accident expect to receive?
If you are injured in a boat accident due to the boat operator’s negligence, it is comparable to an injury in a car crash. Therefore, if you can prove the negligence directly for your injuries, then you may get compensated for the following:
- Medical treatment and future medical expenses
- Amputation, disfigurement, and permanent or temporary disability
- Lost earnings
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Personal suffering
- Pain and loss