As the temperatures rise and Florida’s waterways become more congested, boating accidents become more frequent. With 2,000 marinas, 1,700 miles of rivers, more than 3 million acres of lakes and 8,000 miles of coastline, Florida is a mecca for boaters. Unfortunately, Florida is also home to the highest number of boating accidents.
In 2011, the most recent year for which state data is available, there were 67 boating fatalities in Florida, a 24 percent increase since 2008. Boating injuries also rose 12 percent during that same time frame, with 431 in 2011.
Recently, two St. Johns County men were killed and a local woman seriously injured when their motorboat struck a dock near the Pelican Reef neighborhood. The accident occurred at approximately 10:15 p.m. on Sunday during Memorial Day weekend. According to witness interviews, the boat was traveling at a high rate of speed prior to the collision and none of the occupants were wearing life jackets.
Boating accidents are attributed to a variety of factors including speeding, reckless operation, inexperience and alcohol impairment. Accordingly, many of Florida boating accidents are preventable. Below are several key tips to remain safe on the water:
- Never use drugs or alcohol before or during boat operation.
- Use and maintain the right safety equipment including life jackets, fire extinguishers, boats lights, and emergency supplies.
- Watch the weather and take appropriate steps to avoid boating in inclement weather.
- Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
- Take extra precautions when navigating at night or in reduced visibility; boaters should always operate at a slower speed and be on the sharp lookout for lights of other vessels, channel marker and docks.
- Do not overload your boat.
- Follow the rules of the waterway.
Whether sailing, speed boating, fishing, or just relaxing in the sun on a boat, your safety is dependent on other people following the proper safety precautions. When they fail to do so, it can lead to serious injury or wrongful death.
Personal injuries that occur on the water often involve hospitalization, doctor visits, rehabilitation, medication, and even surgery. And the medical expenses associated with this care can be astronomical. If you are an accident victim, you should be reimbursed for all damages and costs associated with the accident and compensated for your lost wages, pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one has been in a boating accident, our lawyers can help. Contact the North Florida personal injury attorneys at Canan Law. Our firm represents clients throughout the northeast Florida area, including in St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra and Palatka, and offers a free initial consultation.
Call us at (904)824-9402 or stop by our offices at 43 Cincinnati Avenue in downtown St. Augustine if you have any questions about a personal injury case.