Living here in Miami, FL, the boating accident attorneys at our law firm have seen many tragedies occur along many Florida waterways. Some incidents are caused by unfavorable weather, and others are the result of equipment problems. Yet, time and time again, most of the accidents involving vessels like motorboats, sailboats and even Jet Skis are the result of someone’s negligent actions or deliberate wrongdoing.
A day out on a boat can be a lot of fun, but there are numerous dangers at sea that can turn a fun outing into a tragic one. Speeding, Boating under the Influence (BUI), failing to pay attention to other boaters, and inexperience are just some of the many factors that can cause a vessel to crash or capsize. Boating accidents can result in serous – and sometimes fatal – accidents, so it’s important to always abide by the highest precautions in order to ensure the safety of everyone onboard.
Luckily, the victims of a recent boating accident here in Miami survived their ordeal without a scratch. But what went wrong, was negligence what caused the entire incident?
Last Sunday, a party boat carrying 30 people and a dog was cruising around Biscayne Bay and capsized. Among the boaters were students from the University of Miami, Miami Dade College and several workers from the Brickell area who decided to rent a 45-foot catamaran for the weekend. They were on the way back from a sandbar at around 5:30 p.m. when the boat suddenly began to lean forward, causing water to come into the vessel.
All 30 passengers and the dog were thrown into the water near the Miami Seaquarium, but luckily, no one (or animal) was injured and the victims were quickly rescued by witnesses who watched the entire accident. Paramedics arrived shortly thereafter.
Was this just a freak boating accident or is there more to it?
Frankly, it’s not surprising that an accident of this magnitude was reported this weekend. After all, the Columbus Day holiday meant one extra day of partying for boaters, and of course, one extra day to drink. Some people take the festivities a little too far and become careless with their alcohol consumption, this all too often leads to accidents.
Though the investigation is still ongoing, officials are looking into several possibilities. It is unknown whether the person at the helm was a licensed Captain, or whether any mechanical problems with the vessel itself may have contributed to the capsizing accident. We also don’t know whether the vessel was carrying more weight than it was capable of safely carrying. If the party-goers filled the boat with more weight than it was designed to carry safely this would affect it flotation ability, and this can cause many issues especially with a sail boat.
Another theory argues that the party boat wasn’t really a party boat at all. Some officials are saying that the boat was overloaded, but not with a bunch of friends from school or work. Instead, some believe it was an illegal charter, transporting people back and forth from Nixon Beach.
Even if you think you know all there is to know about sailing or boating, accidents can still happen. And even though no one was hurt and it seems that the partygoers enjoyed their experience, one partygoer who was asked about the accident didn’t even seem to care, saying it was “no big deal.” Others appear to share his sentiments, never really thinking they were in any danger to begin with. Someone is going to have to answer for any damage to the boat, and any of its equipment that was damaged.
It’s almost a sure bet that not everyone on board was wearing lifejackets, which is another big mistake when out on the waters. It’s important to be realistic when it comes to boating and to know the steps to take in case of an emergency. At any given moment, a boater may be struck by another vessel or may crash into a seawall or other structure. Upon impact, most passengers – if not all – will be thrown into the water, many with injuries and concussions. Without a lifejacket, victims who are hurt may not be able to stay afloat and may drown before help can arrive.
Miami is no stranger to boating accidents because of the carefree, party attitude many don during weekends and holidays (and sometimes weekdays as well). We have one of the highest rates of maritime accidents in the nation, so it’s important to face the facts and try to be as safe as possible while out on the open water.
The more we are educated about the dangers of boating, the more fun we can actually have because we will know we at least did everything we could to stay safe. Driving the speed limit, having designated sober pilots, fully inspecting vessels for possible mechanical problems, and making sure all passengers are wearing lifejackets are just some of the many ways we can reduce the chances of getting hurt in a boat accident.