Liability for a Boating Accident in Florida: Who’s at Fault When a Boat Crashes?
Florida, with its second-longest coastline in the U.S., offers an abundance of water-based and recreational boating activities for locals and thrill-seekers from all corners of the world.
Yes, boating is a way of life in Miami and other parts of Florida. Unlike in the Northeast, where boaters have no choice but to winterize their boats in winter, residents of Miami can enjoy the use of watercraft year-round.
However, along with the nearly endless boating opportunities that come with water-based activities in Florida also comes the risk of serious injuries. This was the case in a recent boat accident in Fort Lauderdale.
Boat Crashes into a Jetty in Fort Lauderdale
Four people sustained injuries in a boat crash in Fort Lauderdale after a boat collided into a jetty. As reported by WSVN, rescuers responded to the boat accident near South Ocean Lane just after 12 a.m.
As seen from the exclusive footage by 7SkyForce, the 4-engine, 42-foot center console vessel faced upwards along the rocks following the collision. Investigators found that the vessel was attempting to enter the Port Everglades inlet when it crashed into the south jetty.
Two men and two women were involved in the crash. Two of the victims were ejected from the boat, while the other two remained on board after the crash.
BSFR Lt. Andres Hernandez told CBSMiami that it is still unknown how the boat crash happened. Hernandez presumed that the boaters might not have seen the rocks or were not following their guides and beacon lights. This could mean that the operator of the boat did not know “where the jetty ends and when it starts.”
As a result of the collision with a jetty, three people on board the boat suffered minor injuries. The woman who was ejected from the vessel sustained a severe injury and was airlifted to the hospital.
How is Fault Proven in a Boating Accident?
Proving fault in a boating accident can be complicated because, in order to prove that the operator of a boat was liable for your injury, the injured party must prove negligence.
In other words, you must show evidence that the operator deviated from reasonable standards of care when operating the vessel. A boat operator owes a duty of care not only to passengers on board of his or her watercraft, but also surrounding swimmers and vessels.
The injured party seeking compensation after a boat accident must establish these three elements of a personal injury claim:
- The operator owed a duty of care;
- The duty was breached; and
- You suffered damages due to the breach.
Under Florida law, an injured party is allowed to recover damages even if it is found that he or she is partially at fault. However, the pure comparative fault doctrine would reduce the amount of damage by the portion of the plaintiff’s fault.
For example, if the injured boat passenger’s damages amounted to $200,000, but the investigation shows that the passenger was 10% at fault for the boat crash, the costs will be reduced by $20,000.