Answers to Common Florida Boating Law Questions

There is a common misconception that recreational boating is largely unregulated in the Sunshine State. Maybe it’s because renting a boat for the day is so easy, or because so little is required to access the public waterways.

Boating is one of Florida’s best pastimes, but it can be dangerous. Accidents happen all the time, often because other boaters fail to take their responsibilities seriously. Property is damaged, people are injured, and some even lose their lives.

As you can imagine, when you are dealing with enormous and very expensive vehicles — often captained by people who have absolutely no boating experience — negligence and injury are real concerns.

Boat accidents happen on water, on land, at docks, in marinas, and anywhere else watercraft might travel. The property damage tends to be substantial, and the bodily injuries are typically severe.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boat accident, you need to know your rights under Florida boating law. At Viles & Beckman, LLC we have decades of cumulative experience in championing the rights of boat accident victims throughout the Sunshine State.

Below, you will find answers to some of the most common questions about Florida boating law. We hope they help.

Which Laws Govern My Boating Accident?

Different laws apply to different areas of the water. Fortunately, victims have rights in virtually any waterway.

Many of our boating accident clients have been injured while on a lake or inland waterway, or just off the coast of Florida. All of these accidents are governed by Florida’s state laws. Depending on the facts of your case, those laws may include specific maritime statutes or court decisions, in addition to general personal injury law.

If your accident occurred in deeper ocean waters, your accident may fall outside Florida’s jurisdiction and solely within the province of federal law. Federal admiralty law is very complex. It is important to choose a lawyer with meaningful experience in this area. Our Fort Myers boating accident attorneys can help you identify the appropriate set of laws for your case and then understand your rights accordingly.

Do DUI Laws Apply to Boating in Florida?

Drunk boating is illegal. Florida has strict statutes against boating under the influence (BUI), and these rules resemble conventional DUI laws. In Florida, boaters are presumed to be under the influence if they register a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher.

Unfortunately, drunk boating is extremely common. The culture of recreational boating in Florida is one that encourages intoxication. Too many boaters fail to recognize that boats are just as dangerous as cars. There is no excuse for drunk boating. Our Fort Myers boating accident attorneys are prepared to hold intoxicated boaters accountable for the harms they cause.

Who is Liable for My Boating Accident Injuries?

Boat accidents often involve multiple defendants. Among those who may be liable for your damages are:

  • The driver or owner of a boat on which you were a guest
  • The driver or owner of a boat that hit you or collided with your boat
  • The boat’s manufacturer
  • The manufacturers of defective flotation devices or safety equipment
  • The dock owner
  • The marina owner
  • Anyone responsible for an obstruction in the water
  • Anyone else whose negligence contributed to your injuries

What About Personal Watercraft, Smaller Vehicles, and Offshore Accident Sites?

While the law does recognize some distinctions among different kinds of watercraft, you should know that you do have rights, even if your accident involved a personal watercraft, pontoon, offshore platform or vessel, or any other kind of water vehicle or maritime site. The experienced Fort Myers boating accident attorneys in our office can help you with any of these injuries, even if a conventional “boat” was not involved.

What If I Signed a Waiver?

Waivers are common in the boating world. Marinas, rental companies, and commercial boat owners are just a few of the parties known to routinely insist that their patrons sign cumbersome and complex legal waivers.

These waivers are not always enforceable. The validity of a given waiver depends in large part on the contract language, the circumstances of your case, and even the conditions under which you signed it. It’s best to bring the documents to our Fort Myers boating accident attorneys for closer review.

What if the Boater Who Hit Me Was a Tourist from Another State or Country?

Generally speaking, your rights are fully enforceable even if the at-fault party is not a Floridian. Cases involving out-of-state defendants demand focused representation. That’s why it is so important that you choose an experienced legal team. Our Fort Myers boating accident attorneys can help.

How Much Will Your Services Cost? Can I Afford to Sue?

At Viles & Beckman, LLC we are proud to offer our services at no up-front cost to all of our personal injury clients. That means you won’t owe us anything unless and until we settle or win your case. Even then, the total cost of our services will only amount to a portion of your total recovery.

We also offer a free initial consultation. This preliminary, no-pressure, no-obligation meeting will allow you to discuss your situation in detail with one of our Fort Myers boating accident attorneys. We can answer your questions, explain your rights under Florida boating law, and help you determine whether you have a case worth pursuing.

Studies show that victims who hire an attorney typically secure a much higher financial recovery for their damages. There is nothing to lose.

What Are My Best Next Steps?

Contact us online or give us a call. If you have already received medical attention for any pressing injuries, scheduling a free legal consultation with our office is your best next step. There is no cost and no obligation.

Please contact us online or call 800.648.4537 to schedule a free consultation with our Fort Myers boating accident attorneys today.