While car accidents seem to be one of the topmost causes of injuries and deaths, people tend to underestimate the dangers of the open water. Personal watercrafts such as a WaveRunner, Sea-Doo or a Jet Ski are usually associated with partying, adrenaline-rush, and beach-time fun. However, not many people realize that personal watercraft accidents statistically cause a greater number of severe injuries than any other type of boating accident.
So what happens after you’ve been hurt on a personal watercraft? For one thing, this accident is similar to a car accident, where you are able to file a personal injury claim. But just like with any other injury claim, your case will depend on several factors.
Should you file a personal injury claim?
Studies show that on average, 130,000 people are injured from personal watercraft accidents per year. In one year, the U.S. Coast Guard reported over 700 fatalities involving recreational watercrafts as well as over 3000 injuries nationwide. In Florida, jet ski accident victims may be eligible for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning ability, mental anguish, and loss of companionship, support, or consortium.
Accidents will always be unpredictable, but many could have been prevented if not for the negligent action of another. Similar to the rules of the road, if your personal watercraft injury was caused by a reckless, speeding, or intoxicated operator, they are considered the negligent party.
Most jet ski accidents are caused by:
- Falling at high rates of speed
- Colliding with objects like poles, docks, buoys, sand bars or debris
- Collisions with other jet skis
- Accidents due to inadequate instructions
- Accidents due to equipment failure
If your accident was due to the negligence of another driver, then you should contact a personal injury lawyer to file a claim as soon as possible.
Who is responsible?
When it comes to deciding who is responsible for a jet ski accident, the lines become a bit more blurred. Many things must be taken into consideration such as, was the driver knowledgeable about how to properly operate the equipment? And if they were, did their actions cause the accident? Also, did the victim sign a liability wavier before beginning their activities? Where a jet ski accident really differs from a car accident is that there will always be an “assumption of risk” defense against the victim because it was their choice to be involved in a potentially dangerous action.
The situation gets a little more complicated when jet ski renters are injured after signing a liability release waiver which protects the business from being sued when the renter does, in fact, get hurt. This waiver, if written properly, will protect the personal watercraft owner from certain lawsuits arising from injuries sustained while on the personal watercraft. For example, if you are riding a jet ski and accidentally hit a rock and fall off, the waiver protects the owner and you are ultimately responsible for the damages and your injuries.
However, while this waiver may protect the business owner from being sued when participants suffer certain injuries, the renter has not signed away all of their rights to sue the personal watercraft owner, manufacturer or other operators. If damage or injury occurs and the actual owner or manufacturer is at fault, you will still be able to file a claim against them. In order to sue the jet ski rental company, the injury which occurs must be the result of some sort of defect or negligent maintenance of the personal watercraft.
Though driving a recreational watercraft might not be nearly as common as driving a car, the popularity of these jet skis as a fun and exciting pastime is on the rise, as well as its injury and death tolls. Make sure you always follow directions, take precaution and drive safely.