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Orlando Boat & Jet Ski Accident Lawyer

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, Florida is the nation’s leader in boating accidents, including boating deaths. While not an honor of which any state would yearn, the fact that the title of most fatal state in which to boat is given to Florida should not come as a huge surprise, given the sheer mileage of coast lines, rivers, and lakes, not to mention the supreme year-round boating weather. In fact, there were a total of 899,635 registered watercraft in the state of Florida in 2014, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. While hundreds of thousands of locals and vacationers take to the waterways for sport and pleasure in various types of watercraft, very few laws and regulations, and even fewer law enforcement, mean that those vast numbers are largely left to their own devices. Seatbelts are mandatory in Florida passenger vehicles, yet no law exists for the mandatory use of life jackets. No roll cages or airbags exist for boat occupants, and instead of the trouble and danger being over within moments after the initial collision, such as the case of a traffic accident on land, the problems may just be beginning for the crash victims of a boating accident.

The cause of death in 78 percent of all boating fatalities is drowning. In 2014, Florida had a total of 577 watercraft accidents and 67 deaths, the majority of which were drowning victims that were not wearing life jackets. In fact, 84 percent of those victims were not wearing life jackets. However, if you or your family members were injured, or a loved one died, the fact that life jackets were or were not being worn at the time means little in terms of liability. If another party was the cause of the collision and caused injury and/or property damage, they should be held liable for paying those damages. To ensure the responsible party pays for the trauma they caused by their negligence, contact an experienced Orlando boat & jet ski accident lawyer today.

Different Types of Water Users Travel At Different Speeds

Consider the slow, meandering pace of a troller to that of the erratic, high speeds of a jet ski operator. Now, throw alcohol into the mix, as well as operator inexperience. All these factors, and more, are present every day in the waterways of Orlando. Alcohol, operator inexperience, operator distraction, excessive speed, and lack of a proper lookout all lead to some of the main causes of watercraft accidents. And, to take us back to the difference in speed of the jet ski and troller, the huge discrepancies among various boaters equates to a highway with some drivers going five miles an hour, some 30, and others 75. While some areas have no wake zones and speed limits, the vast majority of waterways are unpatrolled or insufficiently patrolled to keep all users within the prescribed speed.

Swimming Injuries

Swimmers and waders have a right to use waterways too. However, motor boats and jet skis pose a great hazard to swimmers. When operators are going too fast, are not paying attention, or do not have a proper lookout, swimmers can suffer life threatening injuries.

The Role of Alcohol on the Water

Many people who get injured by other motor boat and jet ski operators are victims of the other party’s intoxication. Whether you were a passenger of the intoxicated operator, were swimming, or were on a vessel of your own, you deserve compensation. Alcohol and drug impairment greatly increases the chance of an accident happening when boating or jet skiing. Unfortunately, many Florida residents and out-of-state tourists either do not understand the law, or they simply ignore it because they believe that they will not get caught, or that they are fully capable of operating their vessel even while intoxicated. Operating a motorized watercraft while drunk can actually be even more dangerous than driving drunk for the following reasons:

  • Most people are not as familiar or experienced operating a boat as they are with a car;
  • Any collision or accident on water can turn deadly in seconds due to the risk of drowning;
  • Vibrations and the rolling motion of a motorboat or jet ski on the water can mask a person’s intoxication so that they are not as aware of their impairment;
  • Intoxication increases a person’s desire to take risks, which is already heightened due to the excitement of operating a jet ski or motor boat, and also seemingly unchecked by law enforcement out in the ocean or lake.

What if I Was Intoxicated But Got Injured By Another?

As a swimmer, paddleboarder, kayaker, canoer, passenger on a boat, or even as the operator of a boat, the sole fact that alcohol was present in your blood should not exclude you from receiving compensation if you are injured by another. Any level of alcohol in your blood can, and most likely will, be used against you by the other party’s insurance company in order to reduce the insured’s degree of liability. An attorney can help dispel liability on your part to maximize your compensation, even if you had been drinking.

  • Operating a vessel while drinking an alcoholic beverage is actually legal in Florida. It is not legal, however, to operate a motorized water vessel while intoxicated (Boating Under the Influence or BUI).
  • A “vessel” is virtually any type of watercraft, under Florida statute 327.02. This includes kayaks, jet skis, canoes, water skis, wakeboards, and even paddle boards.
  • A Blood Alcohol Content(BAC) of 0.08 is considered intoxicated in Florida. However, a level of 0.05 or greater can also be considered impairment if accompanied by other evidence, according to BoatEd.com.

Injured By a Reckless Operator? Call an Orlando Attorney Today

If you have been involved in a boat or jet ski accident, it is imperative that you reach out to a legal professional for assistance. Contact the experienced Orlando boat & jet ski accident lawyers of The Pendas Law Firm today at 1-888-573-6327 to discuss your options and secure your financial future in this difficult time.

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