How Can You Determine Fault in a Boating Accident in Florida?
Boating and jet skiing alike are two sports that many enjoy in the Sunshine State. Central Florida is home to many freshwater springs and lakes that locals often choose for their water sports activities before making the drive to the east coast’s Atlantic Ocean, or the west coast’s Gulf of Mexico. Boating is a lot of fun, but if an accident happens, it can become dangerous. While fatalities aren’t widespread in Florida boating accidents, severe injuries for those involved are.
If you’ve been involved in a boating accident and sustained injuries or property damage – you have every right to sue the other party for compensation. However, determining fault isn’t always straightforward. With a professional boat accident attorney from The Umansky Law Firm on your side, obtaining compensation is definitely possible. So let’s go into further detail about how a Florida court will analyze a boating accident to determine which party was at fault.
How to Determine Fault by Proving Negligence
For successful property damage or personal injury cases relating to a boat accident, you must prove that the other party was negligent. That’s not always easy when there aren’t many witnesses on the water to recount the scenario. Proving negligence means proving that the other party failed to use reasonable care when operating their boat or jet ski, or broke the law in one way or another. Just because you sustained injuries from the boat accident doesn’t automatically make for a successful case in proving the other party operated carelessly.
Both parties could be at fault if they were operating on the water during a restricted time. If one party was speeding in a zone with restrictions, those cases could be more cut-and-dry for determining fault. The following are common situations for a boating accident to occur, and why proving fault can be complicated.
Accidents Involving Two Boats Colliding
When two boats collide into one another, both can be found at fault. The judge will examine the facts surrounding the accident and might allocate a percentage of fault to both parties. Florida is considered a comparative fault state. That means that whichever party was allocated a higher percentage of the blame must pay that percentage of the awarded settlement.
For example, if two boaters collided and the compensation that was awarded was $10,000 – the party who was determined to be 70% at fault would have to pay $7,000 to the party that was 30% at fault. If both parties were equally at fault, either would be awarded a settlement. They can, however, sue the other for liability if they choose to do so.
Accidents Involving a Boat Hitting the Wake of Another Boat
In Florida, it’s illegal for boaters to ride in the wake of another. However, some scenarios can place liability on the boater who created the wake. That includes situations where the boater:
- Created the wake in a “no-wake zone”
- Was operating recklessly in an area with low visibility, or
- Was operating and created a wake in a congested area.
All three situations could place fault on the boater who created the wake. The boater who got caught in the wake most likely didn’t have a way of avoiding it.
Accidents Involving a Boat Hitting an Unseen Object
If a boat causes an accident by hitting an unseen object, that boat will likely be at fault and responsible for the damages. Boaters are required to use navigational equipment that detects objects that are invisible to the human eye. If a person operating a boat fails to use this equipment, then they’re breaking the law. If they are using navigational equipment but are speeding too fast to avoid the object, they will still be at fault. Speeding through areas with low visibility is also cause for proving negligence.
Turn to a Professional Boating Accident Lawyer in Orlando to Help
Boating is a fun activity that many enjoy in Florida. But when an accident occurs, the resulting injuries can be severe. At The Umansky Law Firm, we understand the complications involved with boating accidents, and the thorough investigations that must be done to determine fault. If you or a loved one gets involved in a boating accident, call on our boating accident attorneys to defend you and your case so you can have the best fighting chance to receive compensation for your injuries. We offer free consultations and are available to contact day or night. Call us or fill out a contact form online today.