In addition to sunny weather and a temperate climate, Florida is also known for its beautiful lakes and surrounding scenery. With more than 30,000 lakes in Florida and nearly 8,000 of these lakes having a surface area greater than one acre, boating remains a popular recreational activity throughout the state. Unfortunately, the calm and placid nature of lakes, compared to the ocean, can often give way to irresponsible boating, such as operating a boat while under the influence. Due to their sheer size and power, boats can cause immense destruction, not only to property but also to the persons involved in a boating accident. The attorneys at Alba & Straile PLLC represent the injured and family members of those killed in an accident involving a boat
In Florida, the operation of a boat requires observance of Florida’s Vessel Safety Law. For classification purposes, a boat is synonymous with a vessel. It includes any artificially, or motor propelled watercraft, barge, or airboat, or similar vessel capable of being used as a means of transportation on water. Because all vessels, of whatever classification, are considered dangerous instrumentalities in Florida, boat operators have a duty to exercise the highest standard of care. When an accident occurs involving the breach of a duty owed to another, the negligent party can be held liable for resulting injury or loss.
There are specific safety items that are required by state and federal laws to be onboard a vessel, such as:
- Visible distress signals
- Fire extinguishers approved for marine use
- Navigation lights as specified by the United States Coast Guard Navigation Rules
- Personal floatation devices, approved by the United States Coast Guard for each person on board
- Sound producing devices such as a referee’s whistle
Boating accidents can happen for a variety of reasons and often involve multiple victims. For instance, passengers aboard a boat can be severely injured in a collision with another vessel or object. In other scenarios, those engaged in recreational activities such as swimming, jet or water skiing, and knee or wakeboarding, are injured due to a negligent or reckless boat operator. Unfortunately, the latter type of accident can often be the most tragic because a collision between a boat and a person can result in severe injury, if not a fatality.
As with other negligence matters, there are time limitations associated with filing a boating accident lawsuit. Therefore, it is vital to seek legal consultation as soon as possible following a boating incident in Florida.
Criminal Law and Boating
A person in violation of Florida law concerning the operation of a boat can be charged with a civil or criminal violation. Law enforcement officers can arrest if they have probable cause that a crime has occurred. Many boating accidents occur as a result of impairment or intoxication. Party-boating or boating while impaired has come to be an all-too-common occurrence throughout Florida. While our attorneys don’t frown upon recreational boating, we also feel that a crew should designate a sober boat operator before venturing out on the water. In general, the operator of a vessel found to be impaired can be held liable for injury or loss.
However, there are also circumstances where the boat owner, although not operating the vessel, negligently entrusts the vessel to another due to the owner’s impairment or lack of reasonable judgment. A boat operator that exhibits willful disregard for the safety of passengers or property can be cited for the crime of reckless or careless operation. Additionally, it is unlawful for a boat operator to leave the accident scene without providing aid to injured persons and reporting the accident to the authorities.
Know your Legal Options
The boating accident attorneys of Alba & Straile PLLC represent the victims of accidents involving motorboats, sailboats, airboats, personal watercraft, homemade vessels, and similar boats. Wherever the incident occurred in Florida, our experienced team of personal injury attorneys will assess your matter to seek maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.
If you have been arrested or investigated for a crime concerning a boating incident, our attorneys have extensive experience in criminal defense. Alba & Straile PLLC is dedicated to justice and committed to providing our clients with compassion, attention to detail, and ease of attorney accessibility. Our Florida boating accident and criminal law attorneys can provide you with the sound legal representation necessary to effectively and efficiently address your boating-related legal needs. Contact us at (352) 371-9141 to schedule a consultation.