Boating Accident Lawyer in Hialeah
With its beautiful weather and oceanside location, boating has become one of Florida’s most popular recreational activities. With over 900,000 registered boats in the state, Florida ranks as one of the top three states for boat registrations. But with more people sailing the seas, they have become more and more crowded, and accidents are more likely to occur. If you were involved in a boat accident in Hialeah Florida, a lawyer who understands the complexities of Florida’s boating laws can help.
Causes of Boating Accidents
Collisions with other vessels are the main causes of boating accidents in Florida. These types of accidents often occur when a vessel has a serious malfunction. Some examples of boat accidents include:
- Colliding with other boats or vessels
- Damage caused by large wakes
- Colliding with a fixed object
- Explosions or fuel-based fires
Additionally, accidents often occur when a vessel operator fails to use proper judgment under the circumstances. Two leading causes of poor judgment include inexperience and the use of alcohol. According to the Coast Guard’s annual report , there were 5.3 deaths per every 100,000 registered recreational vessels and alcohol use represents 19% of deaths in these fatal accidents. Additionally, 74% of boating accident deaths occurred where the operator of the vehicle did not receive any boat safety instruction. The coast guard noted that the top five factors that contributed to boating accidents were:
- Machinery failure
- An inattentive operator
- Excessive speed
- Improper lookout
- Operator inexperience
While it may not always be apparent what caused an accident to occur, an experienced boating accident lawyer in Hialeah can help determine the factors that contributed to an accident, and assist in building a case for compensation for any injuries or damage that resulted from the accident.
Boating Laws in Florida
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) provides the relevant regulations for anyone operating a boat in the state of Florida. Some of the more important  state that:
- With some exceptions, all vessels must be registered at the local tax collector’s office
- Registration numbers must be displayed and the certificate of registration must be on-board the vessel at all times
- Notice must be given to the FFWCC as quickly as possible following a boating accident
- It is unlawful to leave the scene of a boat accident before reporting it to the authorities
- All boat operators are responsible for operating their vessels in a reasonable and prudent manner
- Operating a vessel while impaired by drugs or alcohol is a violation of Florida law
- Vehicle operators born after January 1, 1988, must pass a boater safety course and possess identification
- A violation of the Federal Navigation Rules is also considered a violation of Florida law
Boating accidents occur more frequently when the driver of a vessel fails to follow the proper rules and regulations. When a boating accident results in property damage or personal injury, it may be necessary to seek compensation through the boat owner, their insurance carrier, or both. This is where a competent boat injury lawyer in Hialeah can help. Marine lawyers have the experience necessary to help determine if a rule or regulation may have been violated, and who should be held responsible for any injuries or damage.
Liability in Boating Accidents
Despite having a large number of registered boats, Florida does not require boat owners and operators to carry vessel insurance. As a result, it may be more difficult to be compensated for damages and injuries that result from a boating accident.
Even though boat insurance is not required by Florida law, it may be required by a lienholder if the boat was leased or purchased with a loan. When a boat operator has boat insurance, the first avenue for seeking compensation would be filing a claim with the owner’s insurance company.
The amount of insurance coverage a boat owner may purchase will vary greatly depending on the value of the boat, the amount the owner was lent for the boat’s purchase, and what limits of liability the boat owner chose to purchase under their policy. Due to the difficulty in knowing how much insurance coverage is available under an insurance policy, the amount of compensation recoverable following a boating accident cannot be determined until a claim is filed.
Insurance companies are always looking out for their own interests first. Therefore, it is in their best interest to pay out as little compensation as possible following a boating accident. Negotiating for adequate compensation is not only difficult but could result in a settlement that is inadequate to fully compensate for the victim. Under these circumstances, a boating accident lawyer may be your best tool in getting the best settlement or verdict possible.
Following an accident, a boating accident victim might consider having a lawyer file a lawsuit directly against the owner of the boat if they do not have insurance to pay for compensation. For personal injury lawsuits in Florida, one would normally have a lawyer file a lawsuit in a Florida court. However, boating accidents that occur on the water are not as straightforward. Under certain conditions, Federal Admiralty Law may apply and a Federal court rather than a Florida state court would have jurisdiction over the case.
Understanding when a Federal court would have jurisdiction over a state court can be complicated. A maritime lawyer has the experience necessary to understand the issues involved in determining the proper jurisdiction. A consultation with a boating accident lawyer in Hialeah can help you determine if and where a lawsuit should be filed.
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
Where would I file a lawsuit if I was injured?
Determining jurisdiction following a boat accident is often difficult to determine. When an accident occurs on the water, Federal Admiralty Law may apply, and a lawsuit would then need to be filed in Federal court, rather than state court. A Schlacter Law boating accident attorney in Hialeah can help you determine where a lawsuit should be filed.
What if the boat operator didn’t have a boating license?
In Florida, a boating license is not required by a boat operator. However, any boat operator who was born after January 1, 1988, must have successfully passed a boater safety course. Therefore, it is important to determine the age of the boating operator at the time of the accident.
What if I was partly to blame for an accident?
In negligence cases, Florida is considered a comparative negligence state. Even if the victim was partially to blame for an accident, they may still be entitled to compensation. The amount of compensation would be reduced by the percentage the victim is responsible for their own injuries.