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Boating Accidents: The Complication Of Proving Negligence

Boating on the open water provides year-round fun in Florida. But when accidents happen, the fun stops and the process of recovering from an injury begins. Part of the recovery process may include filing a personal injury claim to seek compensation for injuries. While boating claims are similar to other types of personal injury claims, they involve complex legal issues that accident victims should understand.

Determining Negligence is Key

In a boating accident case, it is critical to figure out who was responsible for your injury. As part of your claim you must be able to demonstrate that your injuries were caused by someone’s negligence. You injury alone does not prove that someone was negligent. In order to prove negligence, you must show someone failed to act with reasonable care and that your injury resulted from that failure to act.

Boat Accidents and Negligence

In some types of boating accidents. Determining negligence is not always simple. To understand the complexity of determining negligence, it is helpful to know the main types of boating accidents. The majority boating accidents fall into one of the following categories:

  • Collision with Another Boat: in an accident between two boats, it is possible that both operators will be partially at fault. This mean that injured passengers would be able to file a claim against both operators.
  • Hitting Another Boat’s Wake: if a boat hits a large wake, the impact to the boat can toss passengers around, throw them out of their seat or toss them overboard. Determining negligence when a boat hits a wake is complex. Florida law requires boat operators to keep watch for anything that may be a danger to the boat passengers. But the operator’s environment will play a role in determining negligence. Environmental factors that play a role in accidents include:
  • Wave size;
  • Speed;
  • Visibility;
  • Surrounding boat traffic; and
  • The type of boat (eg. motorboat or a sailboat).

It is also possible that the operator of the boat that created the wake may be negligent. The negligence of this operator also will depend on the location of the accident and boat traffic in the area. For example, negligence is possible if the accident occurred in a no-wake zone or in a crowded area. A wave accident is similar to a wake accident except that there is no other boat to factor into the equation.

  • Collision With an Unseen Object: even with good visibility, it is possible for a boat to collide with an unseen object. The operator’s liability for a collision with a hidden object will depend on the circumstances. Was the operator traveling slowly and using nautical charts? Or was the operator moving quickly in dense fog? These type of factors make it difficult to know whether a boat operator was negligent.

Contact An Attorney

As this brief discussion demonstrates, it is not always possible to immediately determine negligence after a boating accident. However, you may still need to collect damages for your injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured while on a boat ride and you are wondering what to do next, contact the Miami boat accident attorneys at the law firm of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. We can help you review your case and guide you through a personal injury claim. Contact us today to discuss your case.

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