Recreational boating is a popular activity in Florida that attracts people of all different types. Some are highly skilled at boating, but many are not. Florida does not require boaters to be licensed to operate watercraft in Florida, nor does it require boaters to be insured. This can lead to dangerous conditions on the water–especially on lakes, bays, and inlets, where boat traffic is high. If you are injured on the water, what do you do?
Seek Medical Care.
First, of course, is to seek medical care. If you have suffered a serious injury, this is a no brainer. But, sometimes people will leave injuries that are not life threatening go untreated based on the expense of seeking care. This is a shortsighted and foolhardy course of action. Sometimes, traumatic injuries that seem minor could have hidden consequences that could affect your physical and mental well being for the rest of your life. Often, when it comes to seeing a doctor, you can’t afford not to.
Determine the cause.
Second, determine what caused the accident. Very rarely do boating accidents occur due to an unforeseen “Act of God”. Most often, accidents are due to boaters themselves. When on the water, many boaters do not understand or heed aids to navigation or idle speed zones. They will also not maintain their boats with proper safety equipment, such as lighting and personal floatation devices.
And in egregious situations, they will boat while heavily intoxicated or allow a child to drive the boat. If these types of willful or careless disregards for safety caused your injury, the person responsible is also responsible for the cost of any injury or damage he or she may have caused to you.
Check for Insurance Coverage.
Third, if you are injured due to the irresponsible acts or failure to act of another while on the water, determine if that person carried boaters insurance to compensate you, and, if you are a boat owner, take a look to see if your insurance policy covers you for these types of injuries. Once again, unlike car insurance, boat insurance is not mandatory in Florida. However if a boater has insurance, it often contains coverage for persons injured due to that boaters negligence.
If a boater does not have insurance, and you have your own boat insurance, check your policy for “uninsured boater” coverage. What this means is that if you are injured by another while boating, your insurance will step into the shoes of the at-fault boater to compensate you for your losses. And, of course, if you don’t currently have uninsured boater coverage, make sure you get it as soon as possible for your own protection.
Get Help Soon
Lastly, if you feel you need assistance or legal representation in dealing with any of these issues, consult a lawyer right away. Michles and Booth specializes in negligence cases and will give you a free consultation if you are injured on the water.