Boating Accidents

Our law firm has extensive experience representing plaintiffs injured in both commercial and non-commercial boating accidents. If you have been injured in an accident, contact Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. for a no-cost, no-obligation, consultation to review the facts of your case. Our attorneys are a great resource for accident litigation information.

Accidents can involve any type of recreational water activities that employ marine vessels. Some good examples include water skiing, parasailing, scuba diving, kayaking and fishing. If the accident occurs on navigable waters, then admiralty and maritime rules or state rules on the operation of vessels could apply. A boating accident lawyer should be able to determine from your specific facts what rule set applies. If the accident occurs on non-navigable waters (such as a small lake) then the laws of the state where the accident occurred would apply.

A Legal Team on Your Side

Most non-commercial marine accidents occur on pleasure craft and personal watercraft. In fact, personal watercraft, or “PWCs,” account for a high number of cases requiring a boating accident attorney. Sometimes these vessels are called wave runners or jet skis, but those are commercially trade-marked, brand-specific names of the Sea-Doo and Yamaha corporations, respectively.

Private vessel and personal watercraft liability can arise from the following situations:

  • Driver inattention. Distractions and the failure to anticipate the movement of larger vessels in confined areas.
  • Off throttle steering. Most personal watercraft utilizes an onboard engine which operates a pump jet and directional impeller to create thrust for propulsion and steerage. When the throttle is not engaged, the pump jet is not producing thrust. The maneuverability of many PWCs diminishes and eventually ceases.
  • Driver inexperience.
  • Passenger slip and fall. Boat decks are notorious for being slick so passengers should wear boat shoes. Despite proper footwear, negligence and disregard for reasonable safety precautions can still result in injuries to passengers.
  • Excessive speed.
  • Reckless driving. Commonly called “show boating,” reckless driving often occurs when owners attempt to demonstrate the capabilities of a new vessel or when judgment is impaired by the use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Operating under the influence. Similar rules apply to operating a marine vessel under the influence of alcohol. Many people are unaware of these DUI rules or disregard the rules, increasing the danger of boat operation.

This list is not an exhaustive list of issues that can give rise to liability when a boating accident occurs. It is crucial to contact an attorney, if you or a loved has experienced any type of injury from a boating or personal watercraft accident.

Florida Vessel Laws

In Florida, recreational and commercial boating laws are governed by state and federal rules. Federal law, which is enforced by the United States Coast Guard, generally regulates safety devices, required personal floatation devices and general navigation requirements. The Coast Guard is specifically tasked with enforcing the Collision Avoidance Regulations (also known as the “Rules of the Road” or “COLREGS”) which set forth rules for inland and international navigation. States like Florida also have their own vessel saftey regulations, which are codified in state law. Where the COLREGS are silent, state regulations govern marine vessel operation and conduct.

In Florida’s jurisdictional waters, state law governs a myriad of water activities. These laws are explained in detail in chapters 327 and 328 of the Florida Statutes.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a boating accident, we invite you to speak directly with a highly qualified lawyer at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. For more information regarding our services and qualifications please feel free to contact us.