Florida Boat Accident Law: The Basics

The state of Florida contains thousands of miles of lakes, rivers and coastlines, which means it’s no surprise there are more boat accidents in Florida than any other state. What should you do if you’re injured in a Florida boat accident? This guide will help you determine your next steps.

Boat accident laws and location

The location where a boating accident occurs typically determines which set of laws the accident falls under. Laws for the state of Florida apply to boat accidents that happen on bodies of water that are contained entirely in the state.

However, the majority of Florida’s navigable waters, including many rivers, lakes, bays and, of course, the Atlantic Ocean are located in or along two or more states. Boat accidents that occur in these locations are governed by federal maritime law, which is sometimes called admiralty law.

Statute of limitations for boating accidents

A statute of limitations is the time frame in which you can file a lawsuit following an accident. For boat accidents in Florida, the statue of limitations varies according to several factors:

  • Boat accidents on waters governed by Florida law have a 4 year statute of limitations
  • Boat accidents on waters governed by maritime law have a 3 year statute of limitations
  • Boat accidents that result in death have a 2 year (or sometimes 18-month) statute of limitations
  • Boat accidents on cruise ships may be 6 months to 1 year — the statute of limitations is listed on cruise tickets, which serve as binding legal contracts

If you’re injured in a Florida boating accident, you should consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible regarding the statute of limitations for your particular circumstances.

Boat accident lawsuits in Florida

If you’re injured in a boating accident, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit and receive compensation for pain and suffering as well as any medical expenses. As with other personal injury lawsuits, you must be able to demonstrate that the person you’re suing was negligent and that negligence led to the accident.

Some of the common types of negligence in a boat accident include:

  • Improper speed or boating fast in a posted no-wake zone, which endangers the life or property of another person
  • Boating in a restricted area
  • Boating without regard for posted speeds, wake restrictions, diver-down flags, or other boaters
  • Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Letting boat passengers ride on the seat backs, bow, or other areas where they might fall overboard
  • Exceeding the maximum loading weight, number of people, or horsepower set by the manufacturer of the boat

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has reported that alcohol and drug use account for one-third of the boat accidents in Florida each year.

The Miami trial lawyers at Baron, Herskowitz, and Cohen have successfully represented many clients in boat accident lawsuits and personal injury lawsuits of all categories. Contact us today to discuss the details of your boat accident or personal injury case.

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