Residents and tourists are encouraged to enjoy boating in St. Petersburg and Florida’s natural resources while also following boating safety laws. Although boat accidents are not fully avoidable, there are ways to prevent them.
Boating Safety Requirements
Anyone in Florida who is born after January 1, 1988, who is operating a motorized vessel of 10 hp or greater, is subject to current boating safety education law. Upon passing an approved boater safety course and having an official identification photograph taken, they can be issued a Florida boating license by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The license will have the operator’s photograph on it.
Common Causes of Boating Accidents
According to the 2019 Boating Accidents Statistical Report, there were over 723 boating accidents reported and 66 boating-related fatalities. There were also seven missing persons.
Because the boating safety education laws only apply to those born after January 1, 1988, the FWC believes that it is older, middle-aged boaters who have experienced but never completed a safety course that are the ones who commit more boating violations or natural resource destruction.
The most common reason for boating accidents is a combination of operator inexperience and operator inattention. Boat operators must stay alert and focused despite the many possible distractions that are onboard. Years of experience out on the water teach a person what to look out for, allows rules and laws to become second-nature, and helps keep a person cool under pressure during emergency situations.
Another cause of boating accidents is alcohol use. Going out for a nice day on the lake or on the river sounds like fun, but boat operators must remember to stay sober before bringing the vessel back.
The Duty Of Care Owed By Boaters
The boat operator has a duty to exercise reasonable care and to provide a boat that is reasonably safe. When it comes to determining liability in a boating accident, some of that will depend on whether or not the boat operator or owner should have known a navigational rule or admiral law.
It is also extremely important to wear life jackets while boating or keep them within reach in the case of an accident. Even the best swimmer can become exhausted trying to stay afloat while waiting for help, especially if the waters are choppy. In fact, drowning is the number one cause of boat accident deaths, especially falling overboard and drowning. Guests are also obligated to exercise a duty of care for their own safety.
How Boat Accident Lawyers Can Help
If you have been injured in a boating accident or if a loved one was killed in a boating accident, then you will need an experienced and knowledgeable boat accident lawyer preparing your personal injury or wrongful death claim. To schedule your free case evaluation with Lewis & Castagliola, P.A., call now.