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Navigating the Waves: Understanding Boat Accident Claim Laws in Florida

Florida, with its extensive coastline, numerous waterways, and a vibrant boating culture, is a haven for marine enthusiasts. However, the joy of cruising on the open waters can sometimes turn into a nightmare when accidents occur. Understanding the laws surrounding boat accident claims in Florida is crucial for those who find themselves facing such unfortunate situations.

Since the average boater does not possess a law degree, it’s very important that you contact an attorney who is well-versed in Florida’s boating laws if you are involved in a boating accident. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the basics of Florida’s boat laws to help you begin to navigate the waves.

1. Reporting Requirements:

In Florida, it is mandatory to report a boating accident if it results in death, injury, disappearance, or property damage exceeding $2,000. Boaters involved in an accident must file a report within 10 days. This ensures that authorities can investigate the incident thoroughly, helping victims seek compensation and justice.

2. Comparative Negligence:

Florida operates under a comparative negligence system when it comes to boat accident claims. This means that each party involved in the accident may be assigned a percentage of fault based on their actions leading up to the incident. The compensation awarded to a victim is then reduced by their percentage of fault. For instance, if a boater is deemed 20% responsible for the accident, their compensation will be reduced by that amount.

3. Insurance Requirements:

Boat owners in Florida are not legally required to carry insurance for their vessels. However, having insurance is highly advisable, especially considering the potential financial implications of a boating accident. Insurance coverage can assist in covering medical expenses, property damage, and other costs related to the incident. Regardless of anyone’s insurance status, if you have been involved in a boating accident, you should seek the advice of an attorney to determine whether you should be compensated for your losses or injuries.

4. Time Limits for Filing Claims:

Florida imposes a statute of limitations on boat accident claims, meaning there is a specific timeframe within which a victim must file a lawsuit. In most cases, a victim has four years from the date of the accident to initiate legal proceedings. Failing to file within this timeframe may result in the forfeiture of the right to seek compensation. In other words, don’t hesitate to contact a knowledgeable boating accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible.

5. Strict Liability for Personal Watercraft (PWC) Operators:

Florida law holds operators of personal watercraft, such as jet skis, to a strict liability standard. This means that PWC operators can be held responsible for any injuries or damages they cause, regardless of fault. Strict liability emphasizes the responsibility of PWC operators to exercise caution and adhere to safety regulations.

6. Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Laws:

Similar to driving under the influence (DUI) laws on the road, Florida has strict regulations regarding boating under the influence. Operating a vessel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is illegal. Boaters found in violation of BUI laws may face criminal charges and be held liable for any accidents or injuries caused while under the influence.

Boating accidents in Florida can have severe consequences, both physically and financially. Understanding the laws surrounding boat accident claims though can be confusing for boaters and victims alike. From reporting requirements to insurance considerations and liability standards, navigating the legal waters with the help of a skilled attorney ensures that justice is served and compensation is rightfully awarded to those affected by these unfortunate incidents. If you have been involved in a boating accident, please give Bulluck Law Group a call to schedule a consultation.


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