Tampa Boat Accident Attorneys
Compassionate Advocacy for the Injured
If you were injured in a boating accident in Tampa, you should know that you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. You should not have to shoulder the burden of your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering on your own. At Michles & Booth, our team of dedicated injury attorneys is prepared to fight for you.
We know how to navigate the legal system and will do everything in our power to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
Common Causes of Boating Accidents
A boating accident refers to any incident that occurs on water involving a watercraft or boat that results in damage, injury, or loss of life. These accidents can happen on various bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, oceans, or even smaller waterways. Boating accidents can be caused by a variety of factors.
Here are some of the most typical reasons behind boating accidents:
- Operator Error: Many boating accidents occur due to the operator's lack of experience, improper training, or inattentiveness. Failure to follow navigational rules, overestimating boat handling capabilities, and not paying attention to surroundings can lead to collisions, grounding, or capsizing.
- Speeding: Operating a boat at excessive speeds increases the risk of losing control, especially in crowded or unfamiliar waters. High speeds can also make it difficult to react to obstacles or sudden changes in the environment.
- Alcohol and Drug Use: Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs judgment, coordination, and reaction time, leading to a significant number of boating accidents. Alcohol is a leading contributing factor in fatal boating incidents.
- Weather Conditions: Unexpected changes in weather, such as sudden storms, high winds, or rough waves, can pose serious dangers to boaters. Ignoring weather warnings and not being prepared for adverse conditions can result in accidents.
- Equipment Failure: Mechanical failures, such as engine problems or steering malfunctions, can cause accidents, particularly if the boat is not well-maintained or inspected regularly.
- Inadequate Safety Gear: Not having or improperly using essential safety equipment like life jackets, distress signals, fire extinguishers, and flares can increase the severity of boating accidents and jeopardize lives.
- Inexperienced Passengers: The behavior of passengers who are not familiar with boating rules and safety protocols can lead to instability or tipping if they move improperly on the boat.
- Hazardous Waters: Boating in areas with underwater hazards, strong currents, or shallow waters without proper knowledge or navigation tools can result in collisions or groundings.
- Lack of Navigation Lights: Operating a boat without proper navigation lights during low visibility conditions, such as at night or in fog, increases the risk of collisions with other vessels.
- Reckless Behavior: Activities like "wake surfing" (riding the boat's wake without a tow rope) or "bow riding" (sitting on the bow while underway) can lead to accidents if not done responsibly.
Florida Boating Laws
Florida law requires anyone born on or after January 1, 1988, to complete a boating safety course and obtain a Boating Safety Education Identification Card to operate a vessel with a motor of 10 horsepower or greater.
There are minimum age requirements for operating a personal watercraft (e.g., jet ski) and other vessels with motors, depending on the type and horsepower of the vessel. Generally, anyone under 14 years old may not operate a personal watercraft. However, there are exceptions for supervision and education.
Most vessels with motors must be registered with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). Additionally, vessels meeting certain criteria may need to be titled.
Boaters must operate their vessels in a manner that does not endanger others or property. Reckless operation is prohibited. Florida law requires certain safety equipment on board for different types of vessels, including personal flotation devices (life jackets), fire extinguishers, sound-producing devices (whistle or horn), and visual distress signals.
Different waterways may have varying speed limits. In general, boaters should operate at a safe speed and observe posted speed limits and wake zones.
Boaters must follow the rules of navigation, similar to road traffic rules, to prevent collisions and ensure safe navigation. Like a vehicle-related DUI, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) while operating a vessel is 0.08%.
Lastly, boaters involved in accidents resulting in injury, death, or significant property damage are required to report the incident to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Ready to Help You Today
If you or a loved one was injured in a boating accident, you should not hesitate to reach out to our team for guidance. Michles & Booth is a team of trial attorneys that have the knowledge, skill, and resources to effectively represent our clients in and out of the courtroom. We have the experience and resources to effectively advocate for you and can help you understand your legal options.
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