Boating Accident Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale
With its warm weather and over 1,300 miles of coastline, Florida is one of America’s top destinations for boating. Trailing only California and Michigan, Florida has the third-highest number of registered boats at over 922,000 registered vessels.
With such a large number of boats, it’s no surprise that there are numerous accidents involving boats each year. In 2018, Florida had over 600 boating accidents resulting in 59 deaths and over $7 million in damage to property. This ranks Florida as the state with the most boating accidents.
Injuries are quite common when boat accidents occur, including broken bones, lacerations, and even death. If you were involved in a boating accident and sustained an injury, you may be entitled to compensation. A Fort Lauderdale boating accident lawyer with Schlacter Law can help access the circumstances surrounding the accident, and evaluate if compensation is available. Call today for a consultation.
Causes of Boat Accidents in Fort Lauderdale
There are numerous causes of boating accidents. Some causes include:
- Overboard incidents
- Machine failure
- Alcohol usage
- Rule violations
- Dangerous weather conditions
Even though boats are operated on the water, they are not immune to fires. Cabin fires are a leading cause of boating accident deaths. Once a fire starts aboard a vessel it is extremely difficult to contain and can spread quickly. When a boat fails to have the proper fire fighting equipment, such as a fire extinguisher, the damage can be extensive, and injuries can include burns, smoke inhalation, and even death.
Not surprisingly, overboard accidents are also an extremely common cause of boating accidents. With rough seas and large waves, it’s easy for a boat passenger to lose footing and fall off a vessel. When a boat is traveling at high speeds, hitting the water can result in serious injuries and possibly death.
Collisions make up a large portion of boating accidents as well. Collisions occur when two or more vessels hit each other. More often than not at least one vessel is moving at a high rate of speed. In addition to hull damage, passengers can fall following the impact, hit their heads on bulkheads, or suffer any number of injuries.
Speeding is a serious hazard and results in numerous boating accident injuries. Large powerful boats can easily reach speeds that are unsafe for the conditions. Additionally, most ports have posted speed limits and no-wake zones. Failing to obey the rules can result in situations where a boat is moving to fast to control, leading to collisions and injuries.
When a boat malfunctions, it can leave a boat in a dangerous situation. Common machine failures include improperly functioning engines, failing bilge pumps and non-functioning navigation equipment. Any type of equipment failure can leave a boat stranded at sea, or leave an immobile boat in the path of a large ship.
Similar to cars on land, boats at sea encounter far more accidents and injuries as a result of a vessel operator operating their vessel while under the influence of alcohol. Florida prohibits the use of alcohol while operating a boat, and someone is considered under the influence if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 or higher. Under Florida law, anyone considered under the influence of alcohol may be fined $500 or imprisoned for 6 months following a first conviction. A second conviction carries a fine of $1,000 and 9 months in jail and a third conviction carries a fine of $2,500 and jail for up to a year. Alcohol lowers reaction times and impairs judgment, and often results in serious injuries.
Failing to follow the rules of the sea can also result in injuries. Understanding buoy markers, navigation lights, and other rules are essential in ensuring that a boat is operating safely for both its own passengers and other boats nearby. When rules are ignored collisions can occur, followed by injuries.
Inexperience is responsible for boating accidents as well. Not only is it important to be properly licensed to operate a vessel, but experienced boaters are also better able to anticipate the result of a situation better than someone who has never operated a boat before. Even if no speed limit is posted, experienced boaters are better able to evaluate their own abilities and operate their boats within those limits. Failing to do so puts drivers and passengers at risk of injuries.
Finally, while in Fort Lauderdale, weather conditions can play a large role in boating accidents. Failing to plan for rain or rough weather can leave a boat stranded at sea, unable to locate the shore, and prone to large swells that can rock a boat back and forth and flood lower compartments. Even when rain is not present, large waves can inundate a boat, particularly as large storms are just starting to approach the shore. Experienced boaters can anticipate when weather conditions are changing and may be dangerous. Failing to plan for rough weather, or failing to stay off the water altogether can create a dangerous situation for boat operators and passengers.
When to Call a Boating Accident Attorney
Following a boating accident, it is important to establish who is at fault for the accident. Fault may lie with the operator of a vessel you were aboard, or perhaps it was the operator of another vessel. The company that leased or sold a vessel may also be responsible in cases where equipment failed or the company failed to maintain the boating equipment properly. Or possibly a boating captain headed out to sea knowing a storm was on its way. There are numerous parties that might be responsible for a boating accident, and it is essential to determine who the responsible party is before proceeding with a claim. Establishing who is responsible is the first step in seeking compensation for any injuries that resulted from a boating accident. If you are unsure of who is responsible following a boating accident, a boating accident lawyer can help.
Having assisted in numerous boating accident claims, Schlacter Law understands the issues present in a boating accident lawsuit. We can help determine who is responsible, where a claim should be filed, and assist in seeking as much compensation for any property damage or injuries that result.
How We Handle Cases
- Your attorney will aggressively investigate your case. Schlacter Law will compile all necessary evidence needed to maximize the value of your case. Which includes but is not limited to photographs, police reports, security camera footage, witness statements, medical bills and medical records.
- You will remain in constant contact with Schlacter Law about the progression of your case.
- Your attorney will present your case to the insurance company and will attempt to resolve your case before the case goes to court for maximum compensation.
- Your attorney will make every effort possible to resolve the case as quickly as possible for the most amount of money you may be entitled to. You will be actively involved in the negotiation process with your attorney. Schlacter Law understands that this is your one opportunity to get justice for your loss.
- If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, Schlacter Law will be fully prepared to bring your case to court to fight for the justice you deserve.
- At no cost to you, Schlacter Law will hire any experts and professionals needed to maximize your recovery and present your case in the strongest form possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I was partially at fault?
If you contributed to an accident in Fort Lauderdale you might still be able to receive compensation. Florida is a comparative negligence state which allows a plaintiff to receive compensation even if they are partly responsible for their injuries. Any award for compensation would be reduced by the percentage a court determines the plaintiff is responsible for their own injuries. If you have any questions concerning who might be at fault, contact a boat injury lawyer at Schlacter Law so we can help evaluate a potential claim.
Do I have to file a claim immediately following an accident?
While it is not required to file a claim immediately following an accident, there are time limits in Fort Lauderdale on how long after an injury occurs that a lawsuit can be made in court. This is known as the statute of limitations, and in Florida, this time limit is four years from when the accident occurred for a negligence suit. Be sure to talk with the marine lawyers at Schlacter Law as soon as possible to ensure that no important deadlines are overlooked as maritime law may apply. Maritime law has its own set of rules and regulations and may have shorter statutes of limitations.
Compensation following an accident could include the cost of any damage done to boating property, as well as any injuries that were sustained. Injuries can be costly, including short and long-term medical care. Additionally, compensation might include the loss of income due to the accident, as well as pain and suffering and mental stress. Consulting a Fort Lauderdale attorney can help evaluate any possible compensation available after an accident.