Recreational boating is enjoyed by people across the country but is an especially popular pastime in Florida. While boating is meant to be fun, boating accidents and injuries are becoming more prominent with each passing year and Florida leads the rest of the country in boating accidents and injuries. From 2015 to 2019, Florida had more boating accidents and related injuries or deaths than any other state.[i] Most of these boating accidents could have been prevented though, if it weren’t for the carelessness or negligence of other boat operators.
Boating Accidents can be caused by an array of natural and unnatural events. But rough seas and harsh weather are not the leading causes of boating accidents. Rather, operator negligence causes most boating accidents. Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol are the top five causes of boating accidents in the country.[ii] However, alcohol accounted for over 100 boating related deaths in 2019, making it the leading cause of boating fatalities.[iii] Overall, alcohol and controlled substances accounted for 32% of boating related fatalities.[iv] About 70% of accidents also occurred where the operator had not taken a boater safety course.[v]
Boating negligence accounts for significant property damage as well. In 2019, boating accidents involved about $55 million in property damage.[vi] In 2019, nearly 1/3 of all boating accidents involved a collision between two or more vessels.[vii] Unfortunately, the likelihood for accidents, deaths and injury increase as the weather in Florida improves and as more recreational boaters occupy popular spots along the coast.[viii]
Operating a boat comes with responsibilities that are similar to operating a vehicle. However, boats and boat operators are regulated by federal maritime law, rather than federal and state traffic laws. Still, a negligent boat operator can be held liable for damages and injuries cause by their negligence.
If you have been injured in a boating accident because of a boat operator’s negligence, please contact Michael P. Bonner, Esq. at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 305-676-8800 for a free consultation. Mr. Bonner is an attorney with thirty years of experience handling personal injury claims.
[iii] Boat U.S. Magazine, Alcohol the Leading Factor in Boating Deaths, (September/October 2020).
[vi] See Boat U.S. Magazine, supra note 3.