Florida has more registered recreational water vessels than any other state in the nation. In 2011, there were 922,491 registered vessels and an estimated one million non-registered vessels in the state. Little compares to the calm of a light-wind cruise on a sailboat, a leisurely outing on a motor boat, or the thrill of a ride on a speed boat. There is something special about being on the water and leaving the land behind.
Along with these pleasures come the potential dangers of being offshore. Such dangers include those posed by the water as well as the dangers of being hurt on a boat, crashing into another vessel, or falling into the water and drowning.
Some of the following statistics are reported by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Division of Law Enforcement. In order to be a reportable boating accident in Florida, at least one of the following six conditions must be met:
- Someone dies
- Someone disappears in a situation that indicates a possible death or injury has occurred
- Someone receives medical care beyond immediate first aid
- At least $2,000 damage to the vessel or vessels or other property has happened
- The vessel is a total loss
A total of 742 boating accidents occurred in 2011. Monroe County had the highest number of reported accidents and injuries:
- 93 total accidents
- 6 fatalities
- 66 injuries
Causes of Boating Accidents
Common causes of reported boating fatalities in 2011 include:
- 51 percent of the operators had no formal boat training
- 39 percent of fatal accidents were caused by people falling overboard (this was the main cause of boating fatalities)
- 63 percent of deaths in fatal boating accidents were caused by drowning
- August and November were the deadliest months (nine deaths occurred in each month)
- 15 percent of boating fatalities were linked to alcohol or drugs
- 93 percent of the fatalities were males (62)
- The total fatality count for 2011 was 67
- 68 percent (45) of the fatalities were operators over 35 years old
- 91 percent of all fatal accidents occurred in boats 21 feet or shorter
Other causes of boating accidents include boats crashing into each other and failing to yield the right of way. Another cause of boat accidents is foul weather.
Boating Accidents and Negligence
Many deaths are caused by people falling overboard and drowning. The operator of the vessel should be sure there are enough life jackets for everyone aboard. Failing to do so could be considered negligence. Inflatable life jackets are relatively unknown, but are convenient and easy to use.
Other examples of negligence that may contribute to the cause of or severity of a boating accident include:
- Lack of knowledge, experience and education by the driver/owner of the boat
- Not keeping the boat and motor in proper working order
- Drinking while operating the boat
- Not paying attention to speed limits or regulations
Contact a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or someone you love was seriously in or if your loved one was killed in a Miami boating accident, you can seek experienced legal help from the personal injury lawyers at Baron & Herskowitz. We represent individuals and families in Miami and throughout the state of Florida affected by serious personal injuries and fight to ensure they recover the maximum amount of financial compensation possible. To schedule a consultation to discuss your case, contact us today.