Fort Myers Boating Accident Attorneys
Serious Representation for Victims Injured in a Boating Accident
Boasting both the Atlantic and the Gulf coasts, South Florida is renowned for its beautiful beaches and incredible waterways. Naturally, boating is important here, not only as means of transportation but also as recreation. Indeed, recreational watercraft are popular among locals and South Florida’s tourists alike. Unfortunately, recreational boating is often unskilled boating.
Every day in South and Southwest Florida, people are operating massive and incredibly powerful boats without training or licenses. Too often, they treat this responsibility as a game or a sport, resulting in injuries that cause innocent people to suffer serious financial, physical, and emotional damage.
Boats Can Causes Serious Injuries and Death
Alcohol and drug use are not uncommon. Police officers have a harder time detecting and regulating drunk boating than drunk driving but the two are equally dangerous. In fact, boats may have an even greater capacity for causing death and destruction.
Perhaps it comes as no surprise, then, that serious boating accidents are commonplace in and around Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, and the rest of South and Southwest Florida. But even though someone may have the ability to take a boat out on the waterway without any skill or knowledge, those people nevertheless have a duty to act carefully and to follow the law.
As experienced Florida injury lawyers, Viles & Beckman, LLC understand just how serious a problem boating negligence has become in our communities. That’s why we are dedicated to holding careless and dangerous boaters responsible for the harm they cause.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a negligent boat or watercraft accident in Florida, our experienced Fort Myers boating accident lawyers can help. Contact us online or by calling us at (239) 237-5615.
Serious Boat Accident Injuries
Given the combination of high speeds, little to no safety belts or straps, sharp propellers, hard surfaces, hazardous fixtures, and uncertain waters, boats are certainly dangerous vehicles. To make matters worse, their occupants are usually unprotected and unrestrained. Most people aboard South Florida’s boats fail to wear helmets or any other protective gear, with the possible exception of a personal flotation device (though many fail to take that step, too). In addition to the injuries that might occur in any other kind accident, boat accidents involve certain heightened risks.
Florida Boating Injuries caused by:
- Collisions with other boats
- Collisions with docks or piers
- Slip and fall/man overboard
- Falls from heights (such as a second story on the boat)
- Water skiing injuries
- Personal watercraft (jet ski) accidents
- Wakeboarding accidents
- Contact with submerged structures
- Impact with sandbars
- Rough waters or wake
- Fire and explosion
- Defective life jackets, floatation devices, or safety gear
- Defective watercraft or equipment
At Viles & Beckman, LLC our experienced Fort Myers boat accident attorneys are prepared to assist you with any kind of boat-related injury, no matter how serious or seemingly simple it may be.
When you schedule a free case review with our office, we can help you understand how the law might apply in your situation and determine the potential value of your claim.
Understanding Florida’s Boating Laws
Boating law is complicated. In Florida, these matters often involve a combination of federal, state, and local law. Additionally, multiple areas of law can intersect in these cases, demanding the attention of a skilled and experienced attorney.
The truth is that most boating accident attorneys, including those who work with typical car and auto accidents on a regular basis, are not sufficiently familiar with the intricacies of admiralty and Florida boating laws and regulations to thoroughly and effectively handle these cases in the way that their clients need them to.
At Viles & Beckman, LLC our experienced Fort Myers boating accident injury lawyers command a comprehensive understanding of Florida’s boating laws and the many other issues and authorities that may very well come into play. We are even prepared to handle cases involving deep-sea water injuries, federal vessels, U.S.-owned property, offshore injuries, and other complicated or novel areas of law.
Florida Boating Safety Tips
- Always wear a life jacket that fits well. In fact, life jackets could’ve saved the lives of over 80 percent of boaters who died in a boat accident.
- Make sure all passengers are in the boat before starting the engine to prevent injuries.
- Carry important safety equipment on the boat, like a first-aid kit, horn, flares, fire extinguisher, etc.
- Tell someone back on shore what your boat looks like, when you’ll be back, and who is on board. This is important incase something happens.
- Never drink alcohol or use drugs while you are responsible for a boat. It is simply a very bad idea.
- Make sure you give yourself a refresher on boating safety basics before taking out your friends and family, especially if it’s been a while.
- Get a free vessel safety check from the United States Coast Guard. Cool, right?
Boat Accident Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ’s]
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 boat 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 boat 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 boat 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 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.
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 boat 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.
Free Case Review with Viles & Beckman, LLC
Our firm is proud to represent victims of boating accidents throughout the entire state of Florida, including our home communities of Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Naples, as well as the Sunshine State’s many other popular boating destinations. If you need experienced legal representation for a negligent watercraft injury, we can help.
If you would like to schedule a free case review with an attorney in our office, please contact us online or call (239) 334-3933 right away.
About the Author of this Page: The above information was written or reviewed by one of the attorneys at Viles & Beckman LLC who have a combined experience of nearly 60 years: Marcus Viles, Michael Beckman or Maria Alaimo. The information provided in this article comes from years of experience trying legal cases outside and inside courtrooms throughout Florida along with extensive research.