How to Find the Best Boat Accident Lawyer in Palm Harbor, Fl
Boat Accident Lawyer in Palm Harbor, Fl
35686 US Highway 19 N
Palm Harbor, FL 34683
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Boat Accident Lawyer in Palm Harbor, Fl
Boating is one of—if not the—most popular outdoor recreational activities in Florida, from the picturesque inlets of the Keys to large stationary houseboats located in the Atlantic Ocean across the bay from Jacksonville. Palm Harbor, Florida, which sits just north of downtown Tampa, attracts boating enthusiasts from across Florida, as well as throughout the United States. Countless coves provide anglers with hotspots to catch their favorite fish, while multiple islands are located within a short ride from the coast.
The popularity of boating in Palm Harbor, FL generates a substantial revenue stream for the city and surrounding communities. However, boating also causes one of the most common types of personal injury incidents in the Sunshine State. In 2020, more than 800 boating accidents happened on Florida waterways, such as inland rivers and coastal beaches. Florida experienced 113 more boating accidents in 2020 than the state experienced in 2019.
If you sustained injuries and/or property damage caused by a boat accident, you should contact a boat accident lawyer in Palm Harbor to discuss your legal options, as well as devise a strategy to file a persuasive insurance claim to pay for the costs associated with your injuries and the damage done to your property. An experienced boat accident lawyer in Palm Harbor from the law firm Morgan and Morgan also can help you decide whether you should file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.
Since 1988, Morgan and Morgan has recovered more than $14 billion in compensation for clients that sustained injuries as a result of a personal injury incident. In Florida, a significant percentage of the cases that our team of personal injury attorneys has litigated involved boat accidents. We understand that recovering from the injuries caused by a boat accident requires a commitment that can last several years. Morgan and Morgan is here to help you recover from your injuries, while we recover financial losses like medical expenses and lost wages.
Schedule a free case evaluation today to discover how you can get back on your feet with the right legal representation.
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What Causes Most Boating Accidents?
Although bad weather and poorly constructed gear and equipment cause boat accidents, a majority of boat accidents occur because of the negligence of another party. When you sit down with one of the personal injury attorneys at Morgan and Morgan for a free case evaluation, the lawyer reviewing your case will determine whether negligence played a role in causing you harm.
Operating Under the Influence
Operating any type of marine vessel under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is a violation of Florida law. However, the law does not matter to many boat operators that operate their boats beyond the legal limit allowed for blood alcohol content (BAC). Operating any type of marine vessel under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol leads to poor decisions and much slower reaction times. If another party caused a boat accident while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, the other party committed an act of negligence.
Operators of marine vessels can reduce the number of boat accidents if they follow the standards established for the proper operation of a boat. Speeding shortens the time an operator has to react to another boat, as well as exacerbates the injuries caused by a crash. Far too many boat operators try to complete risky maneuvers that put everyone on a boat at risk of sustaining serious or even life-threatening injuries. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) enforces all state boating laws, including the enforcement of speed limits and safe operating standards.
One of the unsafe practices followed by the drivers of motor vehicles has become the norm on Florida waterways. Distraction is quickly becoming one of the most common causes of Florida boat accidents. Operators who text while operating a boat place other boating enthusiasts in harm’s way. Other types of distractions include eating, talking on a phone, and watching marine species pass by their vessels.
The boat accident lawyer in Palm Harbor that you hire from Morgan & Morgan conducts a thorough investigation to determine whether the other party committed an act of negligence that caused you harm.
What Are the Boat Safety Education Requirements in Florida?
Florida has established several boat safety standards that operators must follow. If an operator of a marine vessel failed to follow a boat safety standard and the failure to abide by the safety standard caused a boat accident, the operator might be held legally liable for causing another party harm.
Anyone 21 years old and younger who operates a marine vessel that is powered by at least a 10-horsepower engine must pass a state-approved boater safety course. Operators that pass a state-approved boater safety course must carry with them a photo identification card issued by the FWC. Anyone who receives a conviction of a criminal boating violation that resulted in a boating accident must complete a state-approved boater safety course. This also applies to anyone who receives at least two non-criminal boating safety violations within the same calendar year. Violators lose their right to operate a marine vessel in Florida until they complete the state-approved boater safety course.
What Are the Four Elements of Proving Negligence?
The boat accident lawyer in Palm Harbor who handles your case must prove four elements of negligence to win a favorable legal judgment.
Duty of Care
Duty of care means another party is legally responsible to ensure you do not get hurt. For example, a healthcare provider has a duty of care to maintain the health of patients. Operators of marine vessels in Florida have a duty of care to protect other parties from sustaining injuries. This means operators of marine vessels must take steps to prevent boat accidents.
Breaching the Duty of Care
Proving another party breached the duty of care doctrine involves gathering and organizing persuasive evidence to present to a judge hearing a civil lawsuit. If the operator of a marine vessel completed a dangerous maneuver and the dangerous maneuver caused a boat accident, the operator of the marine vessel can be held legally liable for committing an act of negligence by breaching the duty of care doctrine.
Your personal injury attorney must prove the breach of the duty of care doctrine caused your injuries. Although it appears to be easy to connect an act of negligence to your injuries, the fact remains that it can be difficult to do. For example, let’s assume you slipped and fell at work a week before you got involved in a boat accident. If the other party’s attorney discovers the slip and fall incident, the lawyer might try to connect the slip and fall incident with your injuries. The key to showing causation is by submitting a considerable amount of convincing medical evidence such as medical records that include the dates and times of treatments.
The final element to prove negligence is the element that establishes a value for monetary damages. Your boat accident lawyer in Palm Harbor must demonstrate that the injuries you sustained produced financial losses. The same principle applies to property damage and lost wages. Copies of medical bills, along with bank statements, should be enough evidence that demonstrates the act of negligence that caused your harm and also generated financial losses.
Does Florida Follow the Comparative Negligence Principle?
Yes, Florida follows the comparative principle, which was created to account for boat accidents in which both parties should assume a percentage of the blame for causing an accident.
For example, one boat operator backs out of a dock, while a second boat operator tries to move past the first boat into the open water. The first boat operator failed to recognize the presence of the second boat operator because the operator responded to a text message. On the other hand, the second boat operator positioned the boat too close to the dock, which was the second factor that caused the boat accident. If the case goes to trial, a judge must determine how much fault the first boat operator should assume for causing the boat accident, as well as determine the percentage of blame for the second boat operator.
Let’s say you were boat operator number two and the judge hearing your case assigns you 25 percent of the fault for causing the boat accident. If the judge hearing your case awards you $80,000 in monetary damages, your net award decreases to $60,000 because you assumed 25 percent of the fault for causing the boat accident.
Comparative fault represents another compelling reason to hire a boat accident lawyer in Palm Harbor. You want a highly-skilled litigator to prevent a judge from mistakenly assigning you too much of the blame for causing a boat accident.
How Do You Find the Best Boat Accident Lawyer in Palm Harbor, Florida?
Before the Internet became a convenient way to find attorneys, clients let their fingers do the walking by referring to the Yellow Pages. Although using online tools to find lawyers remains an effective way to retain legal counsel, one old-school strategy is still a highly effective way to find a boat accident lawyer in Palm Harbor, Florida.
Ask close friends and family members for recommendations to represent you during a boat accident case. At least one trusted friend and a family member might have previously retained the services of a personal injury attorney. If your trusted friends and family members do not provide you with any leads, then branch out by asking neighbors and professional colleagues to help you find a Florida personal injury lawyer.
Florida Bar Association
The Florida Bar Association has established a website that matches clients with attorneys. Access the Find a Lawyer page to start your online search for a boat accident lawyer in Palm Harbor. The Find a Lawyer page offers a search engine that allows you to specify the criteria you want to use to find a qualified attorney. You can conduct a search by location, practice, and/or years of experience.
How Do I Choose the Best Boat Accident Lawyer in Palm Harbor
Even if a trusted friend or family member suggests a personal injury attorney or you find one online at the Florida Bar Association website, you still need to ensure the lawyer under consideration meets certain professional standards.
First, experience matters when selecting the best boat accident lawyer in Palm Harbor, FL. However, you should look beyond years of experience. Yes, the number of years an attorney has practiced law is important, but it is less important if the lawyer cannot demonstrate a proven record of success. Success comes in many forms, including winning approval of an insurance claim and negotiating a favorable legal settlement.
Second, the attorney that you hire must possess outstanding negotiation skills and, just as importantly, tries to negotiate a settlement before considering moving your case into the litigation process. An accomplished negotiator knows how to calculate a reasonable value for monetary damages to at least engage the attorney representing the other party. The boat accident lawyer in Palm Harbor representing you also has to submit reasonable counteroffers.
Third, you should work with a highly-rated litigator who responds promptly to communications. You can expect plenty of sudden changes in your case, and your lawyer must communicate the changes in a timely manner. At Morgan and Morgan, we provide clients with a 24-hour per day phone number that helps them address legal questions. The boat accident lawyer in Palm Harbor from Morgan & Morgan handling your case will get back to you within 24 hours of hearing from you.
Finally, you should hire a personal injury attorney who handles your case from start to finish. Some personal injury lawyers meet with clients during a free case evaluation, only to delegate most or all of the legal responsibilities to a paralegal and/or a less experienced litigator. The boat accident lawyer in Palm Harbor, Florida from Morgan and Morgan assigned to your case will represent you from the day of the free case evaluation to the day your case reaches its conclusion.
Schedule a free case evaluation to determine how to proceed with your boat accident case.