Lake County, Florida is called Lake County because of the number of lakes. I live on Big Lake Harris, which is one of Lake County’s 1000 lakes and 200 square miles of water. With water comes boats. In 2016, there were 905,000 boats registered in Florida, which ranks number one in the United States. In my subdivision, we have 14 slips, and I frequently sit out on the dock watching people fish, jet skiing, water skiing, and boating. With great weather, a lot of water, and a bunch of people, sometimes accidents happen on the water and people are severely injured or killed. In 2017, Florida had 766 reportable boating accidents, with 436 injuries and 67 deaths.
Types of Boating Accidents Causing Death
By far the most frequent type of incident causing death was falling overboard and drowning. In 2017, Florida lost 25 folks to falling overboard. This was followed by the boat capsizing, collisions with fixed objects (docks,piers, rocks, jetties), and collisions with other boats.
Types of Boating Accidents Causing Injury
Of the 437 reporting boating injuries in 2017, 50 of the injuries included abrasions and contusions, this was followed up by broken bones, burns, and head injuries.
Can I bring a claim if a family member died in a Leesburg boating accident?
The answer to this question is yes. A claim will have to go forward under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act. The claim is brought by the personal representative of Estate of the person who passed away. The personal representative brings the claim on behalf of all the statutory survivors who are identified in the law. In order to prove a wrongful death claim, you will have to show that someone was negligent, and the negligence caused your loved one’s death. Some of the factors that are looked at include the facts of the accident, the experience of the person piloting the boat, and whether any drugs or alcohol were involved.
Can I bring a claim for personal injury in a Leesburg boating accident?
The answer to the question is yes, if you are able to show negligence on the party. Determining negligence will depend on the local rules and regulations, and specific facts of the accident. Again, it is important to determine the experience the person piloting the boat, whether alcohol was involved and the facts of what transpired just before and at the time of the accident.
Proving Negligence in a Leesburg, Florida Boating Accident
The legal standard for determining negligence will depend on whether the boating accident occurred on a navigable and non-navigable waterway. Most lakes in Central Florida including the Harris chain of lakes will be considered a navigable waterway because the Harris chain will eventually lead to the St. Johns River, which will eventually lead to the Atlantic ocean. Why is this important? Because if its a navigable waterway – it is covered under Federal Maritime Law.
The Federal Standard for boat operators is that of “reasonable care.”
On the other hand, if the waterway is non-navigable the standard will be considered under Florida law, which has the higher standard upon any operator [of a boat] to exercise the highest degree of care to prevent injury. The difference between reasonable care and the degree of care to prevent an injury could be the difference between getting compensation for an injury and not getting compensation for an injury.
What to Do if You Are Injured in a Leesburg Boating Accident
If personal injury occurs during a boating accident in Leesburg. It is important to seek medical assistance as soon as possible. A common cause of injury in a boating accident involves brain injury because of oxygen deprivation and drowning. Serious injuries such as bone fractures and concussions are also common when boat passengers fall or are thrown off the vessel in a collision with another boat or object.If it is safe, document the vessel’s operator license, registration number, the location of the accident, the water and weather conditions at the time of the accident and the contact information for other individuals involved in the accident.
Potential Limits of Liability in Boating Accidents
There is a weird quirk in Maritime law that has been around for 100s of years, which can limit liability in boating accidents. If the accident happened on a navigable waterway, the defendant can file a claim in federal court to limit any potential liability to the value of the vessel, which can seriously limit the potential recovery in these matters. There are a number of exceptions to the limitation of liability, however, the vessel owner’s petition has to be challenged otherwise the amount of compensation available can be seriously limited.
This is one reason why you need an experienced boating accident lawyer, immediately so you don’t get deprived of receiving just and adequate compensation for your injuries. Contact us today.