Yacht Accidents: Know Your Rights
Yachts are recreational boats or ships used primarily for leisure. There are a wide variety of yachts, ranging in length from 33 feet up to several hundred feet. Those smaller than 39 feet are commonly referred to as cabin cruisers or cruisers, while super yachts are typically over 79 feet and mega yachts are over 164 feet long.
Traditionally, ownership and use of yachts were only for the “rich and famous.” However, more and more individuals are able to afford to partake of some of the luxuries associated with yachting. As the number of yachters increase, so do the number of accidents. A yachting lawyer knows the injuries incurred in such accidents can be quite serious, and some accidents may even lead to death. Accordingly, anyone who has sustained injuries or lost a loved one after a yachting accident or any other type of recreational boat incident is encouraged to contact a well-versed attorney who can advise you of your legal options and rights.
Common Injuries and Risk Factors
Even on luxury vessels like yachts, passengers and those working onboard can experience various injuries, some of which are more common than others. Besides drowning, some of the common injuries that can occur include broken bones, lacerations, head and back injuries and contusions. But what causes these injuries?
Some of the factors leading to injuries include crashes with other vessels, slip and falls, hypothermia and propeller strikes. Additionally, there is also the issue of passengers and/or workers failing to use or misusing personal floatation devices, which is a serious problem that can play a huge role in accident injuries. Alcohol consumption also plays a part in many yacht accidents, as does the inability of passengers and/or workers to swim and their failure to abide by basic boat safety rules.
Yachts are certainly big business throughout Florida and it typically takes several crewmembers to maintain and operate the vessel. Crewmembers and their families should be aware that they are protected by the same laws that protect commercial ship crewmembers. Yacht crewmembers are not typically eligible to make workers’ compensation claims. However, they do have rights under maritime law and the Jones Act.
Yacht crewmembers are entitled to maintenance and cure just like commercial vessel crewmembers. To learn more about your legal options and rights, contact a knowledgeable yachting attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
What Should You Do After the Accident?
If the accident occurred in Florida, the operator and/or owner is required by law to file an accident report with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement or the area sheriff/police department.
More specifically, operators and/or owners must submit an accident report within 48 hours of the incident if someone dies within 24 hours of the incident, if an individual disappears from the vessel or if someone requires medical treatment beyond that of first aid. If there is only vessel and/or property damage, the accident report can be filed within 10 days of the incident.
The laws governing yachts and other recreational boats can be very complex. However, working with a skilled lawyer can help accident victims gain a better understanding of their rights under the law. Contact Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. to learn more.