With its year-round warm weather, Florida is one of the most popular places for boating in the country. Unfortunately, Florida also has a higher amount of boating accidents per year than any other state in the United States. Boating accidents are often caused by inexperienced or careless operators driving their boat too fast for the conditions, not maintaining a proper lookout or operating their boat while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In Florida there is no minimum age to operate a boat. Section 327.395(1), Florida Statutes, provides that anyone born after January 1, 1988, must have a boating safety identification card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Anyone born before that date does not need a boating license to operate a vessel which means there are many boaters operating their vessel without any education on boating safety and likely without much experience.
In 2019, there were a total of 961,266 registered vessels in Florida, 723 reportable boating accidents, 453 injuries, and 65 fatalities. Monroe County in South Florida leads the State of Florida for the highest amount of boating accidents at 88 accidents in 2019, followed by Miami-Dade County which has the second most boating accidents in the State at 73 accidents. The primary causes of these accidents was inattention while operating the vessel, followed by speeding.
These factors were cited as the cause of the 2016 death of Jose Fernandez, the Miami Marlins star Pitcher. Fernandez and two other young men died when the 32 foot center console operated by Fernandez slammed at high speed into an unlit rock jetty. An investigation determined that speed, alcohol and drugs were all a factor in the tragic accident. Incidentally, collisions with a fixed object is the second most common type of accident, behind collision with another vessel in Miami-Dade County.
Boating accidents can be prevented by operating a boat responsibly, following speed limits, and not operating a boat or jet ski while under the influence. If a boat operator fails to do these things, and their negligence results in an accident leaving someone injured, or even dead, they may be responsible for the damages they have caused.
If you or a family member has been injured as the result of a boating accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Please contact Bonner Law at 305-676-8800 for a free consultation. We have over 30 years of experience in personal injury litigation.