Boat Accident Attorney in Big Pine Key30338 Overseas Highway, Unit 7
Big Pine Key, FL 33043
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Big Pine Key Boat Accident Lawyer
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), boating accidents and fatalities have increased considerably in recent years. Distracted boating and failing to maintain a proper lookout are some leading causes of accidents and injuries.
Boating and spending quality time on the water is a way of life in the Florida Keys. However, when an accident happens, the consequences can be tragic for all involved and change victims’ lives forever.
You could be entitled to compensation if you or a loved one was hurt due to a boat operator speeding, boating under the influence, or engaging in other reckless behaviors. Morgan & Morgan’s determined boat accident lawyers in Big Pine Key want to help you get justice. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to determine whether you have a legal claim.
Common Types of Boating Accidents in the Florida Keys
Most people visit Big Pine Key to enjoy the many water-based activities the area has to offer, whether boating, jet-skiing, or non-motorized paddling. However, with an ever-increasing number of watercraft in Keys waters, accidents are becoming more common and can include:
- Boat collisions
- Jet ski crashes
- Boats injuring swimmers or divers
- Slips and falls on boats
- Watercraft crashing into channel markers, docks, and other fixed structures
- Boat fires and explosions
- Sinkings due to boat defects or grounding
- Capsizing in rough seas
- Persons falling overboard
Reasons for Boating Accidents
Most boating accidents occur due to operator carelessness or recklessness. According to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), the top causes of accidents include:
- Operator inattention or inexperience
- Failure to maintain a proper lookout
- Boat machinery failure
- Violation of navigation rules
- Boating under the influence of alcohol
- Inclement weather and hazardous waters
- Destructive wakes
Since most boating accidents occur due to operator error, you could have legal recourse and recover compensation if you were hurt in a boating accident in the Keys. A boat accident lawyer in Big Pine Key can help clarify your options and move forward with a compensation claim on your behalf.
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Who Is Responsible for Your Injuries and Damages in a Boating Accident?
Determining liability in a boating accident can be complicated. Depending on the facts of your accident, liable parties can include:
The Boat Operator
An operator might be responsible for your injuries and financial losses if their negligent conduct caused the accident. For example, if a boat operator was drunk or speeding excessively, you could hold them accountable for the accident.
Other Vessel Operators
If your accident happened due to another boat, jet ski, or another watercraft, the other operator could be responsible if they were speeding or driving the boat without paying attention.
If you or a loved one suffered harm on a tour or diving boat, you could have a claim against a commercial entity, such as:
- Boat tour operators
- Boat rental companies
- Dive or snorkeling trip operators
- Marina management companies
While most accidents happen due to human errors or carelessness, some occur due to a defective watercraft. If your boating accident resulted from a boat manufacturing defect, you could pursue compensation from a boat maker or part manufacturer.
In some cases, you could hold multiple defendants to account for your damages. However, since boating accident claims can be complex and challenging, consider hiring a boat accident lawyer in Big Pine Key to represent your best interests.
What Are Your Next Best Steps After a Boating Accident in Big Pine Key?
If you or a family member is hurt in an avoidable boating accident in Big Pine Key, you should take some crucial steps to protect your legal rights, including:
- Taking pictures or videos of the accident scene and boat damage
- Seeking medical advice immediately
- Contacting a boat accident attorney for help and legal advice
Seeking legal counsel could be essential for recovering the total worth of your boat accident claim. Our qualified and experienced attorneys can gather crucial evidence proving your claim and your damages, build your case against the responsible party, and fight for the best possible outcome of your case.
What Are Florida Boating Laws and Regulations?
Surprisingly for a state famous for its water-based recreational activities, Florida has relatively few boating rules and regulations. Lax state laws arguably contribute to accidents. Currently, Florida law does not require:
- Minimum age for operating a boat
- Boating licenses (for most)
- Mandatory training or water safety courses
Therefore, tourists and locals alike may be operating boats with no or little experience or formal training, potentially putting other boaters at risk.
Boaters Must Observe Some Regulations
There are some rules that boat operators in Florida must observe. According to the FWC, regulations for boaters in Big Pine Key include the following:
- Operators must act reasonably and prudently when driving a boat.
- Excessive wakes that could cause a hazard to other boats must be avoided.
- Operators must observe speed limits such as “no wake zones.”
- Vessel operators must not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Sufficient life vests must be available for all boat crew and passengers.
- Anyone born after January 1, 1988, must pass a boat safety course to be allowed to operate a boat powered by 10 horsepower or more.
However, there are many other regulations boat operators in Florida must observe. Failing to adhere to rules and regulations could make a boat operator liable if an accident or injury occurs.
What Are Common Injuries in Big Pine Key Boat Accidents?
Most boaters never consider the risks they take when preparing for a fun day on the water in Big Pine Key. However, accidents and injuries can happen in various circumstances, including bad weather, collisions, or falling overboard. Common injuries in Big Pine Key boat accidents can include:
Cuts and lacerations can be common injuries in boating accidents, especially when objects become dislodged and fly around. Individuals thrown off the boat in an accident sometimes end up in the water, where they could be vulnerable to deep gashes and cuts from propellers. Propeller injuries can be catastrophic and fatal.
The impact during a boat collision can cause fractures and crushing injuries. Severe and complex bone breaks, such as compound fractures, can permanently impair the mobility of victims and cause disability.
Brain injuries can occur with a direct blow to the head in a fall or indirect trauma due to rapid back-and-forth movement of the head in a high-speed collision. Head and brain injuries can be debilitating and generally require immediate medical attention.
Spinal Cord Damage
Blows to the spinal cord due to a fall or boat collision can lead to temporary or permanent spine injuries. Permanent spinal cord damage or severance can lead to irreversible paralysis, severely limiting victims’ mobility and life quality.
You Could Be Entitled to Compensation
In boat accidents, victims can suffer numerous other injuries, including oxygen deprivation in a near-drowning incident, heart attacks, and hypothermia. Regardless of your type of injury, you could qualify for compensation if another is responsible for your accident. If you or a loved one is affected, our boat accident lawyers in Big Pine Key want to help you get justice and compensation.
What Compensation Could Boat Accident Victims Receive?
Severe boat accident injuries can negatively impact all aspects of your life, including your career, mental health, and family relationships. However, you should not have to shoulder the financial burden if another carelessly causes your injury. You could be entitled to the following damages and others:
- Medical expenses for your boat accident injuries
- Loss of wages and estimated future wage loss
- Property damage
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Physical pain
- Emotional anguish
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of a limb
How to Determine Wrongful Death Due to a Boat Accident?
Sometimes, the worst happens, and someone is tragically killed in a boating accident. While compensation cannot turn back time or bring your loved one back, receiving a payout can help you deal with the financial chaos after losing a family member.
Our boat accident attorneys in Big Pine Key can determine who is responsible for your loved one’s death and hold them accountable. Damages in wrongful death claims vary depending on the decedent’s age and other factors. However, you could be entitled to the following:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Mental pain and suffering
- Medical expenses before your loved one’s death
- Loss of income and benefits from your loved one
- Loss of support and services
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of parental guidance and instruction
Having a tenacious lawyer on your side can be critical for receiving what you deserve in a Big Pine Key wrongful death claim.
Is Boat Insurance Mandatory in Big Pine Key?
Boat insurance is not legally required for private boat owners in Florida, which can further complicate a compensation claim. While a negligent boat operator’s homeowners’ insurance may offer some limited coverage, this is not guaranteed. Depending on your claim, your only chance to get adequate compensation may be to go after the personal assets of the responsible boat operator.
If you were injured in a boating accident, you might not be able to file an insurance claim. Therefore, your best step can be to contact a personal injury lawyer specializing in boating accidents as soon as possible after you suffer a boating injury.
When Is the Best Time to File a Boat Accident Lawsuit?
When timing your lawsuit, it is crucial to consider Florida’s statute of limitations, which determines the deadlines for filing a legal claim. If you want to file a personal injury claim, you generally have two years to do so in Florida, according to Florida Statutes § 95.11.
To further complicate matters, you may be subject to maritime laws if your accident occurred outside of Florida’s waters, which could shorten the time to file a lawsuit.
Determining when to file a suit can be challenging. While you do not want to wait too long to recover a settlement, you should generally wait until you have reached maximum medical recovery. Determining your prognosis and the extent of medical treatments and bills you face in the future is critical for receiving a fair settlement. Filing too soon could mean leaving money on the table. Consulting with an attorney can be vital for determining the best timing for your lawsuit.
How Can a Boat Accident Lawyer in Big Pine Key Help Me?
Handling a complex boating accident claim on your own can be tricky, especially if you suffer from severe injuries and a lot of money is at stake. Our experienced boat accident attorneys can handle your claim from beginning to end while you are healing from your injuries. We can:
- Review your case
- Determine all responsible parties in your accident
- Gather evidence proving your claim
- Interview witnesses
- Provide expert witnesses to testify on your behalf
- Fight for the maximum possible compensation
You do not have to endure the struggle and stress of fighting with insurance companies or those responsible for the boating accident. Morgan & Morgan is here to help. You do not have to worry about attorney’s fees when we take your case. We can help you navigate the legal process and represent you for free. You will not receive a bill from Morgan & Morgan. We only get paid when you win and receive compensation.
Morgan & Morgan Has Your Back
If you are injured in a boat or jet ski accident, our motivated boat accident lawyers in Big Pine Key could help you recover the settlement you need to get your life back on track. Do not wait to seek help, as the time to file a lawsuit may be limited. Get started now and contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation to evaluate your claim.