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Boating Accident Attorneys in Palm Harbor
Palm Harbor, Florida, offers residents and visitors substantial opportunities for recreational boating. Water sports enthusiasts have dozens of choices for boat charters and tours, and Florida locals own nearly one million recreational boats, according to 2021 data. Accidents on the water frequently lead to legal disputes, which may be the reason you're searching for boating accident attorneys in Palm Harbor. We're here to help if someone was being careless or reckless and caused an injury to you or a family member or caused damage to your property.
Boat owners and operators are responsible for the safety and welfare of passengers aboard their boats and others on the waterways. Negligence can result in collisions, capsized vessels, and passengers being thrown overboard, causing injury and, in tragic cases, even death. When the unthinkable happens, it's important to know that you don't have to deal with the repercussions of a boating accident on your own. In fact, we urge you not to, as boating accidents fall under maritime law, which can be difficult for a layperson to understand.
At Morgan and Morgan, our job is to make sure our clients get the maximum compensation possible while protecting their rights. We are fierce advocates for our clients and never require out-of-pocket payment. Instead, we're paid based on our results. We work on a contingency fee basis, a percentage of your settlement or court-ordered award. This means our clients don't have the added pressure of another upfront financial obligation on top of medical bills and other losses.
To get started, contact us today for a free case evaluation.
What Our Boating Accident Attorneys in Palm Harbor Can Do for You
When you're in any kind of boating accident, it's essential to get in touch with a legal expert who is knowledgeable of boating regulations and the legal liability for boating negligence. Morgan and Morgan's boating accident lawyers have extensive experience in maritime law and boating accident investigations. When we take on a case, we work tirelessly to get to the bottom of the cause of the accident and provide you with the expert legal guidance you need to recover compensation.
As lawyers, we are duty-bound to protect our client's rights and produce results for them. In order to be successful in a boating accident claim, we must demonstrate the following:
- The boat owner or operator owed you a duty of care. Duty of care is a legal responsibility to avoid behavior or omissions that could lead to harm to other individuals and their property. A legal duty of care is assumed by all persons to exercise reasonable care around other people and to act in accordance with how another reasonable person would behave under similar circumstances. Essentially, when we take on a responsibility such as owning or operating a boat, the duty of care is established, just like when we get behind the wheel of an automobile.
- The boat owner or operator was negligent by failing in their duty of care
- Negligence was the direct cause of the boating accident
- The boating accident caused your injuries or the death of a loved one
While this seems like a lot, our clients don't have to worry since we do all the heavy lifting to gather evidence and build your case. We encourage our clients to focus on their physical and mental well-being while we take care of legal disputes.
The evidence we use may include:
- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) incident report
- Eyewitness statements
- Photo or video documentation that was taken at the scene of the accident or at the hospital
- Medical records documenting injuries
- Results of background investigations into previous incidents with the other boat operator or owner
- Weather conditions at the time of the accident
- Drug and alcohol test results
- Safety equipment and maintenance logs
The evidence we gather and uncover is an essential part of determining fault for the boating accident, which will be directly linked to the amount of compensation you may be eligible to receive.
Morgan & Morgan
What Are the Primary Causes of Boating Accidents in Palm Harbor, Florida?
Palm Harbor has almost limitless access to the waterways, which is probably why Pinellas County has the second-highest number of registered boats in Florida. With a large population of boaters comes risks. In general, Florida has more boating accidents, injuries, and deaths than any other state in the nation. The most frequently reported accidents involve two vessels colliding or a single vessel colliding with a fixed object.
Even seasoned boat operators can let their guard down while enjoying a leisurely water excursion. However, these mishaps can cause devastating injuries and death. Here are the primary causes of boating accidents in Palm Harbor:
Distracted operators - Many boat outings are recreational in nature. A boat operator may feel a false sense of safety and fix their attention on entertaining passengers instead of focussing on the waterways. Anytime an operator is maneuvering while distracted can cause dangerous accidents.
Improper lookout - There can be numerous distractions on the water. However, boat operators have a duty to monitor their surroundings constantly. This may require directing passengers to move out of sightlines or removing equipment that may impede a clear line of site. It's essential for a captain to scan the bow, starboard, and port sides to safely navigate around other vessels, swimmers, and objects in the water.
Operator inexperience - While anyone born after January 1, 1988, is required to complete an approved boater safety class successfully and get a Boating Safety Identification Card before operating a vessel with ten horsepower or greater, an inexperienced operator can legally captain a boat on day one.
Intoxication - In Florida, it is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (BAC of 0.08% or higher). The first conviction could land an intoxicated captain in jail for up to six months. However, the civil ramification of causing a boating accident while impaired are almost always complete liability for any damages they may cause.
Excessive speed - Just like driving, speeding while boating greatly increases the risk of a collision or loss of control. Florida waterways have speed warning signs that should be adhered to so that other boaters, swimmers, and even manatees aren't harmed.
What's the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Boating Accident Claim in Palm Harbor, Florida?
You have four years from the date of the accident to sue for compensation in a civil claim. The statute of limitations is put in place to protect all citizens from having to defend themselves after a significant amount of time has passed and key evidence may be subsequently lost that would help maintain a defense. Another reason is that eyewitnesses may die, move, or otherwise forget important details. These statutes are often a matter of common law. In the vast majority of cases, once the statute of limitations has passed, you have no legal recourse. Some exceptions that pause the time clock include if a victim was underage at the time of the injury. Once the injured party reaches legal age, the timeline commences.
If a family member dies due to a boating accident, you have just two years to file an action for wrongful death. Under Florida law, only the estate's personal representative may file a wrongful death action. However, the personal representative is responsible for listing all surviving family members that have an interest in the result of the lawsuit, such as the spouse, minor children, parents, or other financial dependents.
Can Waiting to File a Claim Interfere With My Chances of Recovering Compensation?
We understand that you may be overwhelmed in the hours, days, and even weeks after a boating accident, especially if you or a loved one were seriously injured. Although liability insurance for boating accidents isn't a requirement in Florida, if the other operator does have insurance, it's important to start the process in a timely manner. Putting it off can hurt your chances of getting a settlement because delay invites more questioning. Delaying may suggest injuries weren't the result of their policyholder's boating accident, but instead, the injury occurred some other way. That's another reason why seeking medical care directly after a collision is crucial. Medical documentation is as good as a timestamp.
As with any civil claim, time is critical. If you feel like you have a valid case or claim for a boating accident injury or death, contact Morgan and Morgan today for the best chance of recovering meaningful compensation.
Are They Still Responsible if Another Person Caused My Injuries but Didn't Collide With Me?
Yes, even if there were no collisions, another person's negligent actions can still make them liable to compensate you for your injuries. For example, boat operators are responsible for the vessel's wake and any damage it may cause to others. A boater who is careless about the wake generated by their vessel can easily cause harm to other boaters, swimmers, and wildlife. Even passengers in larger boats can be knocked down or tossed overboard.
Another example is if you were injured on a tour boat because the operator was negligent. For instance, if the vessel was poorly maintained and a fire started aboard, causing burn injuries, or if there were not enough lifejackets during an emergency and someone drowned, then the boat operator or owner may be responsible.
Why You Should Consult With Boating Accident Attorneys in Palm Harbor
After a boat accident, it's crucial to make smart decisions that will affect your physical and financial future. You must get the kind of medical care you need to recover fully, and ample compensation is the key to making this happen. You should also be compensated for pain, suffering, and other difficulties stemming from someone else's negligence. You will have a dedicated attorney with their own support staff at Morgan and Morgan to ensure your rights are protected and compensation is awarded.
Any insurance company you talk with will have highly trained staff working to make sure they pay out as little as possible, regardless of fault. Our lawyers have extensive experience with insurance companies' operations and can't be fooled by common tactics to get claimants to accept lowball offers. Beyond valuable legal and negotiation expertise, you will have the peace of mind that comes with having legal representation.
You won't need to worry about deadlines, filing legal documents, or conducting investigations because we'll be working on your behalf. Instead, you can focus on recovery. You have a right to pursue damages against negligent parties, and we will work to help you achieve a favorable outcome. Remember, our fee is free if we're unsuccessful, so it doesn't cost any more to be represented by the best. Contact Morgan and Morgan for your free case evaluation today.