In the world of sad statistics, here’s another. Florida leads the nation in boating accidents yet again. In 2011 the number reflected 742 recorded boating accidents with 67 fatalities (2011 data). It should not surprise as Floridians get to enjoy boating all year round and there are almost 1 million registered vessels in Florida. Because Florida is the number one State in vessel registration, it reasons that we should have the highest incidence of accidents and fatalities but it needn’t be that way. Drowning is the number one cause of death in boating fatalities. This is a shame as a life vest could have saved each of those lives. When you board a friend’s boat, make sure you ask for a life vest, the owner is required by law to have safety equipment, including vests for each passenger who boards the vessel.
Alcohol plays a large role in Florida’s boating statistics. To some, there is nothing more logical and enjoyable than a nice day on the water and a packed cooler with your adult beverage of choice. Be advised that our waterways are patrolled now more than ever and Boating under the Influence Florida Statute 327.35 makes it unlawful to operate a vessel along the same lines as an automobile; if the person has a breath alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. Penalties range from a fine to no more than 6 months confinement for a first offense but escalate for a second and then a third conviction.
Florida’s waterways are for us all to enjoy with our families. Be safe and use common sense. Take a boating class, study and be careful. Careless boating injures innocent families. If the injuries are the result of either defective equipment or operator negligence, you may be entitled to collect damages for property damage to the vessel, lost wages, medical expense as well as pain and suffering, much like an automobile accident case.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a boating accident, they should seek legal advice and guidance with a firm like Gibbs and Parnell who have taken many of these case to trial and settled many more of them with great success.