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Alcohol and Boating: A Fatal Combination in Florida

Alcohol and Boating: A Fatal Combination in Florida

According to the Recreational Boating Statistics Report from 2019, alcohol was the primary contributing factor in deadly Florida boating accidents. Despite an overall decline in deaths, alcohol has remained a top factor in these tragedies that devastate tourists and residents every year.  

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 54 boating deaths occurred statewide in 2018 alone. This number is higher than any other state, and of those fatal accidents, alcohol or drug use was attributed to 22 percent. Our highly trained boating accident attorneys at Jordan Law are all too familiar with these tragedies in this county and in nearby Seminole County. If you or a loved one were recently hurt while boating in Lake County, FL, reach out to our knowledgeable personal injury attorney right away to learn more about what rights you have to compensation for your injuries

How Lake County, FL Boating Accident Fatalities Happen

Top contributing factors reported by the FWC and Coast Guard:

  1. Distracted operation

  2. Improper lookout

  3. Inexperience 

  4. Excessive speed

  5. Failure to provide adequate safety equipment

  6. Turning recklessly or incorrectly into a wave

  7. Ignoring poor weather conditions or forecast and taking a boat out anyway

The highest percentage of deaths occurred in open motorboats (including flats-boats, skiffs, and center consoles), 63 percent in Florida, and 48 percent nationally. Next up would be canoes and kayaks, with 14 percent both in Florida and nationally. The following top contributor is personal watercraft, with 11 percent in Florida and 8 percent nationally.

Florida Law and Boating Accident Liability

Liability is a legal term that refers to someone’s legal responsibility. The person legally responsible for providing a duty of care in a Lake County personal injury lawsuit tends to be the one proven most negligent. 

Reasonable boating conduct demands that operators must follow a duty of care to operate the vessel to a safe and acceptable standard. Those who breach this responsibility and cause an accident that leaves others injured would be legally liable.

One common act of negligence is operating a vessel while intoxicated. Much like a DUI offense, boating under the influence (BUI) is against state law. A skilled boating accident attorney may use evidence of a BUI to prove the defendant’s negligence in an injury claim. This crime may also lead to an award of punitive damages for the injured parties. Reckless behavior like ignoring posted speed limits or failing to take a boating education safety course if the operator was born after January 1, 1988, can also build a solid argument for compensation.

Charter Cruise Liability Waivers Not Always Applicable to Injury Cases

Florida is full of boating charter and rental companies that tourists often enjoy. It’s not uncommon for them to sign a liability waiver before embarking on one of these cruises. Boating companies do this to avoid responsibility if something goes wrong while out on the water. But, these rarely apply to situations where a captain or crew member was negligent.

Any time you are asked to sign a waiver before going on an evening boat ride, make sure to understand the conditions you agree to thoroughly. Many provisions may render such an agreement useless, including:

  1. The waiver language was ambiguous or unclear.

  2. The waivers terms can be circumvented.

  3. The rights being signed away are not clearly defined.  

Although many boating personal injury lawsuits are brought into court under Florida’s maritime jurisdiction, these can also fall under Federal court jurisdiction. Once in the higher courts, boat owners have additional protections while victims have a shorter statute of limitations. It is helpful to have an experienced Lake County boating accident attorney available who is highly trained and well-versed in the Federal court process.

Did You Experience a Boating Accident in Lake County, FL?

Loved ones of accident victims, as well as survivors of a boating accident, may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit if negligence was involved. These types of cases can help them obtain much-needed personal injury compensation for wrongful death, lost wages, and medical bills. 

At Jordan Law, we approach every injury case we represent with compassionate dedication to providing you the best legal guidance available. We are eager to answer any questions or concerns you have about your case and will do everything possible to get the best recovery for your circumstances. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about what rights you have to compensation.

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