Boating is one of the most popular water activities in Florida. But according to the U.S. Coast Guard 2020 Recreation Boating Statistics, the Sunshine State also comes on top with 804 boating casualties for that year alone. Oftentimes, these boat accidents could have been prevented; accidents caused by negligence can lead to boating accident injury settlements.
If you've been involved in a boating accident, you should know your legal rights and explore your options for a fair settlement. In this article, we're going to discuss the factors that you need to consider in a boating accident claim.
Negligence is a key factor when it comes to filing a compensation claim. But just because you got injured in a boat accident doesn't automatically mean that someone was negligent.
When assessing a negligence case, there are four elements that you need to prove. The first one that you need to establish is that the defendant owes a duty of care to the plaintiff.
Duty of care is a legal obligation of an individual or organization to act with reasonable care. It also means avoiding behaviors or omissions that could be reasonably foreseen to cause harm to others.
In a boating accident, a duty of care is owed by the boat operator to their passengers, as well as other water users. However, the boat owner, manufacturer, and even the passengers are also expected to act and behave with reasonable care.
The next element that you need to prove is the breach of duty. In boating, a breach of duty occurs when the operator fails to provide reasonable care while doing their duty.
To give you a clearer picture of how a personal injury claim works, here are common causes of boating accidents that might prove a breach of duty:
The operator is required by law to pay attention to the boat, the passengers, and the environment where the boat is operating. Just like with a car accident, boating accidents can also happen due to being distracted. Therefore, the boat operator must refrain from using their phones, eating while driving, or doing any other non-driving activity while on the waters. This also involves boating under the influence (BUI), which is considered a punishable offense in Florida law.
Boat operators are expected to be knowledgeable about operating their vessels. It also includes understanding whether the water currents, water depths, and weather conditions are good for boating. They also have to make sure that they have the proper tools and equipment on board.
Additionally, a nationally-approved boating safety education is encouraged to gain the skills needed for a boater to be confident on the waters.
Other than the operator, another individual is needed to serve as a proper lookout. The task of a proper lookout is to scan the area around the vessel by sight, hearing, or any available means. This is to make a full appraisal of the situation and avoid the risk of collision.
Recreational boats run at different rates of speed depending on the situation or the posted limit. However, excessive speed refers to the pace that is way above what a reasonable and careful person would do under the same condition. Too much speed might cause the boat to flip or a passenger to fall off.
Other than routine maintenance checks, it is imperative that the operator or the boat owner perform a safety check before every boat trip. This includes checking if there is enough fuel in the tank, all equipment is working, and there are spares or tools onboard for repairs.
The next element is called causation. This is where you prove the connection between the negligent operation and your boating accident injuries. You have to be able to show that the operator's negligent actions or inactions caused the boating accidents that led you to suffer from serious injuries.
Working with a personal injury attorney will be especially helpful at this stage. They will help collect the evidence you'll need for a strong case and fight for you if ever your claim goes to court. If you think it's another expense, most personal injury lawyers offer free consultation and only get paid if you get compensated.
The final element that you need to establish is the damages. In a personal injury lawsuit, "damages" refers to the amount of money awarded to boat accident victims. The aim of the compensation is to restore the victims to their pre-incident position.
In a comparative negligence state such as Florida, the damages the victim will receive will be reduced if it is proven that they were partially at fault for the boat accident. For example, if the victim was proven to be 50% at fault for acting recklessly while on the boat, then their compensation will be reduced by 50% as well.
In a boating accident, the plaintiff might be compensated for special and general compensatory damages.
Also called "economic damages", special damages are awarded for the monetary loss or expenses incurred because of your minor or severe injuries. This includes:
On the other hand, general damages are awarded for losses or costs that are not quantifiable. This includes:
On the subject of a wrongful death claim, the surviving family members might receive both special and general compensatory damages. This can include the funeral and burial costs, emotional distress of the surviving members, and loss of companionship.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Florida boating accident, then you have the right to file a personal injury claim. John C. Murrow is a Tampa, Florida boating accident attorney who can help you pursue compensation for your injuries.
Call Attorney John today at (813) 999 4950 for a free consultation.
The blog published by John C. Murrow Law is available for informational purposes only and is not considered legal advice on any subject matter. By viewing blog posts, the reader understands there is no attorney-client relationship between the reader and the blog publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney, and readers are urged to consult their own legal counsel on any specific legal questions concerning a specific situation.
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