There were over 915,000 boats registered in the Sunshine State in 2015, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) records. With so many registered boats plus the one million non-registered vessels that actively use Florida’s waters, it is no surprise that we regularly lead the nation in boating accidents. In fact, in 2015, Broward County and the Keys were the two deadliest places for boaters in Florida, reports the Miami Herald.

Establishing fault and liability after a boating accident in Fort Lauderdale is much like that for an auto accident. The party whose negligence primarily caused the accident is the party that can be financially liable for the victims’ damages. Determining fault is often complicated, though. There may be multiple parties involved, weather conditions may play a role, defects with the vessel can be a factor, and fault is often the subject of debate.

Because the damages are typically substantial with boating accidents, it is always a good idea to seek a boating accident attorney’s advice before filing a claim. For a free consultation with a boating accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, call Montero Law Center at 954-767-6500 today.

What are the most common types of boating accidents?

There were 57 boating accidents in 2015 in Broward County. These accidents caused dozens of injuries and over $3.6 million in property damage. By far, the most common type of boating accident was a collision with another vessel. Colliding with a fixed object was the second most common type. Other common boating accidents include:

  • Flooding
  • Falling overboard
  • Grounding
  • Capsizing
  • Fire/explosion
  • Falling aboard the vessel
  • Striking an underwater object

What are the primary causes of boating accidents?

Involved parties must report all boating accidents that result in injury, death, or more than $2,000 in property damage to the FWC. The investigating officer files a report and notates the primary cause. According to the accident reports, some of the most common causes and contributing factors of boating accidents include the following:

  • No proper look-out
  • Excessive speed
  • Operator inexperience
  • Operator inattention
  • Machinery failure
  • Weather and hazardous waters
  • Alcohol use
  • Hull and equipment failure
  • Poor maneuvering
  • Overloading
  • Congested waters
  • Lack of proper lights or proper ventilation
  • Failing to abide by the rules of navigation

Who is liable for a boating accident?

The first step in determining fault is a careful investigation of the accident. What caused the accident to occur? You can use various sources of information to identify fault, such as the police report, eyewitness accounts, defective boat components, and testimonies from involved parties.

Boating accident claims hinge on negligence. In legal terms, negligence simply means failing to uphold a duty of care to act in a reasonably safe manner so as not to cause harm to befall others. Boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol (BUI) is negligence, as is operating a vessel at a speed that is unsafe for conditions.

Boating accident victims have the right to file a claim against the party whose negligence or carelessness primarily led to the accident. Usually this means filing a claim with the at-fault party’s (defendant’s) liability insurer. If the defendant is not insured or his/her policy is not enough to cover your losses, you can take the claim to court to pursue recovery. 

What if I am partly at fault for my boating accident?

Even when you are partly at fault for a boating accident, you can still recoup some of your losses. Florida abides by a law called the Pure Comparative Fault Rule, which provides that injured parties can still recover losses even if they are partly to blame. In fact, they can still recover even if they were as much as 99 percent at fault.

The kicker is that your degree of fault will reduce your damage award. Let us say you sustained $10,000 in losses in a collision with another vessel. The insurer deems the other party 70 percent at fault for failing to yield right of way and you 30 percent of fault for speeding. If you win your claim, your damage award would total $7,000.

This is why establishing fault and liability is such a critical part of the claims process. To increase your chances of recovering a full settlement, we will investigate your accident and begin building defenses against any potential accusations of fault.

What types of losses can I recover in a boating accident claim?

You might be entitled to recover damages for all of your monetary and non-monetary losses that result from a boating accident. These include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Emergency services and transportation to a medical facility
  • Loss of wages, disability, and loss of benefits
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Emotional losses (referred to as “pain and suffering”)
  • Lost quality of life
  • Property damage

CAUTION: Do not sign any settlement offers without first getting a full evaluation of your claim. Montero Law Center can assess the full value of your claim and account for the totality of your current and future losses. This way, you can better ensure you get the full amount you are entitled to. Agreeing to an offer prematurely could cost you thousands of dollars. Run your offer by our team first.

Does Montero Law Center accept boating accident case in Ft. Lauderdale? 

Our attorneys at Montero Law Center have been helping injured victims in Fort Lauderdale for over 30 years. Our clients can vouch for the quality of our service and the passion for victims’ best interest that we bring to table. We can facilitate all types of boating accident cases in Fort Lauderdale, including those involving private and commercial boats.

Contact us today at 954-767-6500 for a free consultation and see how we can be of service to you.