With over 1300 miles of coastline and another 1500 miles of navigable inland and intercoastal waterways, it is no surprise that recreational boating is a huge business in Florida. Spending time on the water can be a great way to bond with friends and family and enjoy the beautiful weather in Wesley Chapel.
If you are a frequent boater, you likely understand the dangers of operating a watercraft. Unfortunately, when inexperienced and reckless boaters take to the water, they often make matters more dangerous.
If you were recently in a water vessel accident, you may be dealing with severe injuries, significant property damage, and high medical bills. With the help of a dedicated personal injury attorney, you could seek compensation for these losses through a settlement or lawsuit. Our Wesley Chapel boat accident lawyers can help you navigate the legal system as you recover from the incident.
Laws Governing Boat Operations in Wesley Chapel
Many states require boaters to obtain licenses or certificates before they can legally operate a vessel on the state’s public waterways. However, Florida does not require vessel operators to have licenses.
You must be at least 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft in Florida. Additionally, If you were born after January 1, 1988, you must take a boating safety course before you may legally operate a boat of more than 10 hp. Otherwise, there is no minimum age to operate a vessel on state waters. A knowledgeable accident lawyer can inform you of the boating laws in this area.
What are the Common Types of Boating Accidents?
The combination of the high volume of water traffic and many inexperienced boat operators in Florida leads to many watercraft accidents in the state. According to the United States Coast Guard, the most common types of fatal recreational boating accidents are:
- Collisions between vessels
- Collisions between a boat and a fixed object
- Falls overboard.
Many of these types of incidents are rooted in negligence. A seasoned attorney could investigate the specifics of your boat wreck to identify potentially negligent parties.
Who Might Be Liable for a Watercraft Collision?
If you wish to obtain compensation in a boat accident claim, you must prove another party was negligent. Negligence is a failure to behave as a normally cautious person would have under similar circumstances. Any party who did not take reasonable care to protect the safety of others might be considered negligent and liable for your boat accident injuries.
The operators of the water vessels involved in the incident could be liable. Additionally, the owner of a boat might be responsible, especially if they entrusted it to someone they had reason to believe might operate it recklessly. Depending on the circumstances, other potentially liable parties may include:
- Other passengers
- The local government
- The boat manufacturer
- The person responsible for boat maintenance
The legal team at our firm will help you build a case based on the specific parties responsible for your water vessel accident.
Proving Negligence After an Accident on the Water
Proving negligence requires you and your attorney to show that someone breached the duty of care they owed you, directly causing the accident. You must also demonstrate how the incident directly led to your injuries and losses.
Vessel operators have a duty to comply with applicable laws, boat owners have a duty to maintain their craft properly, and boat builders must produce a safe and seaworthy vessel. A failure to meet any of these obligations could constitute a negligent breach of duty. A diligent attorney can help you gather evidence to prove the other party in your boat crash acted negligently.
What Damages Might Be Available?
Once you prove the other party was negligent, you can seek compensation for all economic and non-economic damages you suffered due to the accident. Common examples of economic losses include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and lost earning capacity. Non-economic damages may include:
- Emotional anguish
- Physical pain
- Permanent disability
- Scarring and disfigurement
Our experienced lawyers who are themselves are avid boaters can help you demonstrate how the watercraft incident diminished your quality of life so that you can obtain the compensation you need.
The Benefits of Working with an Attorney
There are legal statutes that have the potential to complicate a personal injury claim. Because of these complex laws, it is often best to seek out a qualified lawyer before initiating a legal claim.
One potential barrier to compensation is the state’s pure comparative negligence law. According to Florida Statutes § 768.61, if an injured party bears some responsibility for the accident, they may not collect their full damages award. Instead, the court will reduce their compensation by their degree of fault.
Whether you are seeking a settlement with an insurance company or preparing to go to court, the at-fault party will likely attempt to shift some of the blame to you to reduce their own liability. Attorney Mike Hancock has over 30 years of legal experience. As a former insurance attorney, he knows how these entities operate. Additionally, as a boater himself, he has the knowledge and understanding of Florida boating laws. Having a Wesley Chapel accident lawyer on your side can be a tremendous asset in your boating accident case.
Allow a Wesley Chapel Boat Accident Attorney to Help with Your Case
Boating accident cases can be complicated. There may be multiple potentially liable parties blaming each other for the incident. Obtaining reasonable compensation requires the skill of a qualified lawyer with deep knowledge of negligence laws in Florida.
Our Wesley Chapel boat accident lawyers can vigorously fight for you to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.