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Considering the beautiful weather and wealth of water in and around the state, it is no wonder that Florida has one of the most vibrant recreational boating cultures in the country. In fact, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), there were more than nine hundred thousand boats registered in the state as of the end of 2015.

Unfortunately, many times, these boats are operated by people with little to no boating experience or who lack the maturity to operate a watercraft responsible. In either case, whether it is due to an absence of knowledge or negligent behavior, on the part of the responsible party, it can and too often does, lead to tragedy.

In 2014 alone, there were 62 deaths, 438 injuries requiring hospital care and just in Brevard County in 2015, a total of 3,483 boating accidents severe enough to require official intervention were reported. For an activity that is classified as recreational, these are sad numbers.

What is even sadder, though, is that most people don’t realize how Florida liability laws apply to watercraft and therefore go without receiving the compensation that they are justly entitled to.

What Laws Apply in a Boating Accident?

Thankfully, victims of boating accidents, in Florida, are protected by the law, regardless of where the accident occurs. Which laws will come into play, however, will depend on where on the water the incident happens.

On lakes, streams, inland waterways or just off the coast you will be protected by the full force of Florida’s liability laws. If you are out in the deeper blues of the ocean this may not be true. In these cases, it will fall under federal statutes and admiralty law.

Admiralty law is some of the most complicated in existence and you will need an experienced attorney to handle your case.

Who is Liable in a Boating Accident?

More often than not, and this one of the things that make boating accidents unusual, there will be more than one defendant in a personal injury case on the water. These may include but are not limited to;

  • Anyone else whose negligence contributed to your injuries
  • Anyone responsible for an obstruction in the water
  • Anyone responsible for obstructing the waterway
  • The boat’s manufacturer
  • The dock owner
  • The driver or owner of the boat that collided with you
  • The driver or owner of the boat you were on
  • The manufacturers of defective flotation devices or safety equipment
  • The marina owner

There are many special circumstances that can come into play when an accident or personal injury occurs on the water. BUI (Boating Under the Influence) is a common contributing factor. If the incident involves a rental boat or rental property, contract law, as it applies to waivers, may come into play and of course, if the accident occurs offshore, admiralty law will play a major role in how the case must be handled.

All of these situations are going to require that you be represented by an attorney that is knowledgeable and experienced with similar cases if you are to stand a chance against the insurance attorneys that will be representing the defendants.

In the Melbourne, Florida area, Brad Sinclair of Sinclair Law is a highly regarded and experienced attorney well versed in both Florida personal injury and admiralty law. If you have been involved in an accident or received an injury while boating give him a call today and see how he can be of service.