The Risks of Playing on the Water and What to Do if You Are Injured
As summer starts to draw to a close and kids think about going back to school, everyone feels pressured to get in as many summer activities as possible. Florida, being almost completely surrounded by water and containing many lakes and rivers inland, is a mecca for any and all things involving the water. Playing on the water is a pastime enjoyed by both young and old, and it can be easy to forget that these places hold the potential for injury if one is not careful. Experiencing any accident is usually a traumatic experience, but accidents on jet skis or other watercraft have the additional factor of water that can quickly disorient a victim and increase the likelihood of additional injury or death. A recent news story out of Miami discussed a watercraft accident near Picnic Island where one man was killed and two women injured after the watercraft struck a channel marker. Because these activities pose an inherent risk to participants, it is important to be aware of the hazards, and to know what to do if an injury occurs due to someone else’s negligent behavior.
At first glance, it may seem that accidents on the water would be less serious because the water would act as a cushion to break someone’s fall, but if a person is propelled into the water at high speed, the surface becomes as unforgiving as concrete, and the same types of injuries are possible. In addition, many accidents involving watercrafts, especially jet skis, occur near the shoreline, which means the presence of other vessels or markers become hazards that a person can hit with the watercraft or with his/her body when propelled into the air. According to statistics from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for 2015, Florida had 161 accidents with 128 injuries and 4 fatalities, and Miami-Dade County had one of the highest accident rates in the state with 33 total accidents and 29 injuries. This means that almost every watercraft accident in the Miami area resulted in an injury. In some of the most serious injuries, injuries victims sustain include brain and spinal injuries that occur when the head or spine collides with hard objects or is penetrated by a foreign object. In fact, the report referenced above shows most accidents involved collisions with fixed objects or with a vessel, which makes the likelihood of victims experiencing high impact events substantial. In addition, broken bones, lacerations and internal injuries are common types of harm accident victims can experience.
Holding Someone Liable
In light of the significant effect any of these injuries can have on a person’s life, an important question to ask is when a person or business can be held legally liable for injuries. If another party’s careless behavior caused the injury then he/she may be responsible for financial compensation to cover damages related to medical bills, lost wages and mental suffering. In order prove a person is liable, the plaintiff in a personal injury case must show that the defendant was at fault and was the cause of the accident. Fault can be due to:
- negligence by the other party through a lack of proper care or skill in operating a vessel; or
- failure to follow rules and regulations issued by state and federal authorities (Florida has the Florida Vessel Safety Law).
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you suffered an injury in an accident involving a jet ski or other watercraft, make sure to talk with a personal injury lawyer about holding the other party accountable. This ensures that you are not stuck paying bills or absorbing the impact of lost wages while the responsible party escapes his/her legal obligation to reimburse you. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado works hard to gather all the evidence necessary to succeed in these cases, and can the merits for legal action on your accident. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.