Boating / PWV Accidents
Recreational boating has become extremely popular as Florida’s population has increased. As a result, there are now more boat versus boat collisions and boat versus personal watercraft collisions than ever before. Recreational boats may also hit channel markers or sand bars causing injury to it’s occupants. Obviously alcohol and boats are a dangerous combination. On cruise ships, elevators frequently mislevel causing unsuspecting visitors to fall out of the elevator and injure themselves. Casino boats and fishing charters and even sometimes large cruise ships can choose to head out to sea in extremely dangerous weather, unnecessarily endangering the safety of the passenger. On board fires or even sinking ships can also cause injury. Different laws apply to boating accidents. Florida has a state statute, which states:
“All vessels, of whatever classification, shall be considered dangerous instrumentalities in this state, and any operator of a vessel shall during any utilization of the vessel, exercise the highest degree of care in order to prevent injuries to others”, unlike the rule relating to motor vehicles. This statute relieves the owner of liability if the owner is not operating the vessel or present on the vessel when an injury occurs. However, it is possible to hold the owner of a vessel liable in negligence when the owner negligently entrusts the vessel to another.
Federal statutes often referred to as admiralty laws or maritime laws, will often apply to ships outside of the state’s territorial waters, specifically three miles from shore on the Atlantic side and nine miles from shore on the Gulf side of the state. Included within maritime law is the doctrine of un-seaworthiness. A vessel is not seaworthy if it lacks the proper equipment or devices to allow it to engage safely in the trade for which it was intended. In addition to federal maritime law, there are several federal laws, which protect employees who work on boats: The Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act. These laws are intended to protect employees who work on vessels on any “navigable” waters, regardless of whether those waters are considered state waters or federal waters.
If you have been injured while boating, we may be able to help you bring a claim against the operator and owner of the vessel. Commercial vessels tend to carry insurance. Private vessels are often insured under a policy of insurance purchased specifically to cover the boat, or sometimes by the owner’s homeowner’s insurance.
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Personal injury attorneys at Brumbelow Drechsel in St. Petersburg, Florida, represent clients throughout Florida and most frequently the Tampa-St. Pete metro area, including Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor, Largo, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Pinellas Park, and St. Pete Beach; from counties including Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Citrus County, Manatee County, Sarasota County, Hernando County, and Pasco County.