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Understanding Negligent Use of Jet Skis or Boats Resulting in Injury

Florida is one of the premiere destinations for vacationing in the entire world. People travel from around the United States as well as from abroad to enjoy the lush beaches, beautiful everglades, and warm weather that are enjoyed extensively by Florida residents. One of the popular places for tourists to populate is the many beaches and waterways around the Sunshine State. But with the popularity of those bodies of water, combined with the increasing amount of commercial and personal watercraft, serious bodily injury or even death could occur if proper care is not taken. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident involving a personal watercraft on one of the waterways or beaches in Florida, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.

Negligence Leading to Accidents

A term that is typically identifiable by many, but not definable, is negligence. Negligence is the legal standard that is used to determine if someone’s actions caused a person harm and whether compensation should be received for such actions. A tricky aspect of the negligence analysis is that, although the elements are always the same, the applications of them are sometimes inconsistent. For educational purposes, the elements of negligence as they pertain to using a personal watercraft are described below:

The first element of negligence is establishing whether there was a duty owed by the individual driving the personal watercraft to the person that was injured. This is typically easy to establish. Like drivers of motor vehicles have a duty to other motorists, pedestrians, and passengers, drivers of personal watercraft have a duty to ensure that they are operating their vehicle in a way that ensures the safety of those enjoying the water around them.

The second important element at play is the identification of what the duty that is owed requires. For adults, Florida has recognized that those operating vehicles have the duty to operate such a vehicle in the same manner as a reasonably prudent person under the same or similar circumstances. Thus, the analysis is typically a comparison: did the operator of the Jet Ski or other personal watercraft control it in a way that another reasonable person would? When dealing with children, the duty generally changes to require the child to have acted in a way that is commensurate with another child their age with a similar intelligence level, training, skill level, and experience. Thus, under the analysis for children, it would initially appear that a child would be given some slack when determining their actions were reasonable or not. But that is not the case in Florida. The Florida Supreme Court has adopted the position that when a child engages in an inherently adult activity, such as operating a potentially dangerous personal watercraft, that child will be held to the standard of care that an adult would be, had they been driving the watercraft. Once a standard of care has been established, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached the duty.

Generally, the third element of negligence is a showing that the breach of duty by the defendant was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. This means that the plaintiff must show that had the defendant not breached their duty, the injury would have not occurred. In addition, the plaintiff must prove that the type of harm that occurred was the same type of harm that the defendant risked creating through his or her breach of duty. This simply means that the type of harm that occurred must have been reasonably foreseeable to the defendant.

Lastly, the plaintiff must show that he or she suffered damages. Though damages need not be physical or even economic in nature. In addition to damages for medical bills, lost wages, and loss of future earnings, plaintiffs can recover damages for pain and suffering.

Our Lawyers Can Help You Today

Jet ski accidents in Florida are on the rise and can leave residents and vacationers severely injured or worse. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident involving a jet ski or a personal watercraft in the Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach, or Jacksonville areas, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at the Pendas Law Firm as soon as possible. Contact us online for a confidential consultation on your case.

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