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When Negligence Leads To A Boating Accident


Who doesn’t love a day out on the water? Whether you’re fishing, skiing, or just soaking up the sun, boating is a popular recreational sport for Floridians of all ages. But what happens when your day in the sun turns to tragedy? An experienced personal injury attorney can intervene on your behalf in such a situation, especially if negligence is a factor.

Boating Statistics

Florida leads the nation in boating accidents, with 671 reported incidents in 2016. Unfortunately, Florida also leads the boating fatality rate, with 52 reported deaths.

Recent Florida Boat Accidents

Accidents, both major and minor, occur with alarming regularity on Florida waterways. Consider some of the incidents from May 1017, each resulting in noteworthy injuries and property damage;

  • A 2-boat collision occurred in Fort Lauderdale in May 2017, resulting in at least two serious injuries and other minor injuries.
  • An airboat accident resulted in one fatality and 5 other injuries in the Everglades.
  • A vessel collided with the Midpoint Memorial Bridge killing one child and causing serious injuries to two others on board.
  • The ejection of a man from a boat near Jaycee Park resulted in serious injuries.

Accidents on the Water

Boating accidents come in many forms. The most common type of accidents, listed in order of frequency, includes the following:

  • Falls overboard;
  • Collisions with fixed objects;
  • Capsized vessels;
  • Flooding;
  • Collisions with other boats;
  • Running aground.

Where, specifically, do boating accidents occur? Most frequently, lakes and ponds are the sites involving accidents. Other areas, in order of frequency, include:

  • Rivers and creeks;
  • Bays and sounds;
  • Oceans or gulfs;
  • Canals and cuts;
  • Inlets and passes;
  • Ports and harbors.

Operator Information

The boat operator is essentially in charge of the vessel while in operation. What do we know about vessel operators in relation to accidents? Statistically, the majority of these operators are age 51 or older. Seventy percent of operators involved in accidents have had no formal boating education. Issues associated with accidents on the water vary:

  • Alcohol use;
  • Improper look-out;
  • Distracted driving;
  • Inexperience;
  • Speed;
  • Behavior of boat occupants or skiers;
  • Weather;
  • Overloaded boats;
  • Sitting on the gunwale, transom or bow;
  • Dangerous waters;
  • Sharp turns.
  • Reckless driving;
  • Improper anchoring.

While the majority of victims are reasonably good swimmers (72 percent), 82 percent of them were not wearing flotation devices. That can be a serious problem when a catastrophe occurs.

Boating Safety

Guidelines for safe boating are essentially just common sense precautions. Since the majority of boating fatalities occur in small, open boats during the daytime in good weather, it can be concluded that safety can be achieved with a few basic actions to ensure passengers do not fall overboard and boats don’t capsize. Besides paying attention and alcohol free, other tips include:

  • Attach the ignition safety switch to the driver in some way;
  • Don’t allow passengers to sit in areas not specifically designed for sitting;
  • Don’t overload the vessel;
  • Don’t allow people to move around when the boat is in motion;
  • Slow down as necessary during turns;
  • Secure the anchor line to the bow, not the stern;
  • Distribute the weight in the boat evenly.

Don’t suffer in silence.  If you or a loved one has incurred serious injuries or property damage in a boating accident due to the negligence of another, let the practiced team at the Law Offices of Robert W. Elton in Daytona and Ormond Beach intervene for you. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.