With various inlets and waterways, Tallahassee is the perfect place for both recreational and commercial boaters. Yet while boating is statistically safer than driving, it’s not without its risks. If you sustain an injury in a recreational or commercial boating accident, you may be able to receive compensation to cover medicals bills, emotional injury, and other damages.
We at Morgan & Morgan rigorously investigate your case, determine who was responsible, and immediately devise a plan to help you recover maximum damages. Contact our maritime attorneys today for a free, no-risk case evaluation.
Causes of Boating Accidents
In 2014, there were 634 reportable boating accidents in Florida. Sadly, in those reported accidents, 73 people lost their lives and 365 people were injured. What causes these terrible accidents, and they are similar to accidents that may be preventable in the future? The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found the following causes were responsible for the majority of reported boating accidents in 2014:
- Operator inexperience — Operator inexperience was cited as the number one cause, accounting for 81 accidents. If you wish to operate a motorized vessel of 10 horsepower or more in Tallahassee or elsewhere in Florida, you must possess a valid Boating Safety Education ID Card.
- No proper look-out — When operating a vehicle at sea, it is vital you are aware of your surroundings at all times. Between the sun from above and the rays reflecting off the ocean, it can be difficult to spot objects and other boaters 360 degrees around you. Use sunglasses and binoculars when necessary and always carry an air horn.
- Operator inattention — Operator inattention accounted for 69 boating accidents. Whether your vessel is in motion or stopped, make sure you are constantly scanning the horizon.
- Excessive speed — Speeding on the water caused 66 accidents. Unlike cars, boats are not able to stop on a dime.
- Machinery failure — In some boating accidents, mechanical failure is the culprit. Boat owners and operators should routinely inspect their vessel to ensure every component is in working order.
- Carelessness/recklessness — 39 boating accidents could have been prevented had it not been for carelessness. Make sure you are aware of boating regulations at sea and the guidelines for safely operating your vessel.
62 percent of people injured in boating accidents in 2014 were occupants, not operators. If you suffer injury as an occupant on someone else’s vessel, you may have grounds for a negligence claim depending on the circumstances of your case.
The Jones Act Helps Injured Seamen in Tallahassee
Also referred to as The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, The Jones Act is a federal law that protects the rights of seamen. Under the act, American workers who suffer an injury at sea are entitled to compensation from their employers.
In fact, if you suffer an injury at work and qualify as a seaman, you only need to show that your employer’s negligence played some part in your accident to file a claim. Your employer may be responsible for your injuries if they failed to do one of the following:
- Provide you with a reasonably safe place to work.
- Use ordinary care under the circumstances to maintain and keep the vessel on which you work in a reasonably safe condition.
If you would like to file a claim under The Jones Act, you must do so before the statute of limitations runs out. One of the provisions of the act is that maritime workers who qualify as seamen only have three years from the date of their injury to file a lawsuit.
Who Qualifies as a Seaman Under the Jones Act?
Not every employee that works at sea is considered a seaman under The Jones Act. It is important to recognize whether your role falls under the law’s classification of seaman.
To be called a seaman under the act, you must meet the following criteria:
- You devote 30 percent of your work time on a U.S. vessel or fleet of U.S. vessels in navigable waters.
- Your duties contribute to the function of the vessel.
Contact our Tallahassee Maritime Law Office Today
Whether you suffer an injury in a recreational boating accident or while working at sea, if someone else is at fault, you deserve compensation. Our experienced attorneys at Morgan & Morgan are proud to serve residents and seamen affected by boating negligence. For a free case evaluation, contact us online or call our Tallahassee office at (850) 329-6895.