Boat Accidents

With 8,000 miles of ocean coastline and many thousands more of rivers and lakes, Florida is a boater’s utopia. Statewide, there are more than 900,000 registered vessels, not including kayaks, canoes and other non-motorized vessels. Sunny South Florida especially is a huge draw for recreational boaters.

However, the fun isn’t risk-free.

Our Fort Lauderdale boating accident attorneys understand there are more than 4,000 boating accidents in the U.S. annually, resulting in more than 600 deaths, nearly 2,700 injuries and costing nearly $40 million in property damage.

Florida, which is No. 1 for boater participation is, perhaps unsurprisingly, also No. 1 for boating accidents. In fact, Florida has 61 percent more boating accidents than the No. 2 state, California, and 280 percent more than the No. 3 state, New York.

Florida Boating Accident Statistics

To offer a snapshot: The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported in 2014 there were 635 reportable boating accidents in the state. Of those, there were 64 fatal boating accidents resulting in 73 deaths. More than a quarter of all accidents involved collision with another vessel. Most deadly accidents involved falls overboard, with drowning being the leading cause of boating deaths in Florida.

There were also 365 injuries stemming from boating mishaps. That’s one boating injury every single day in Florida, which breaks down to a rate of 41 injuries for every 100,000 registered vessels. As the boating accident lawyers at our Fort Lauderdale firm are aware, the actual number is probably higher because not every boating injury is reported and some are misclassified.

The average number of boating accidents in Florida from 2010 to 2014 was 696.

Personal watercraft – like Jet Skis and Sea Doos and Wave Runners – for 12 percent of all registered vessels in the state, but 16 percent of all reportable boating accidents.

Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties each have some of the highest boating accidents in the state.

Miami Dade
  • Rank: 1
  • Recreational Vessels: 60,713
  • Total Vessels: 63,319
  • Reportable Accidents: 70
  • Fatalities: 10
  • Injuries: 47
  • Property Damage: $2.2 million
  • Accident Rate: 1 for every 802 registered vessels
Palm Beach
  • Rank: 4
  • Recreational Vessels: 36,530
  • Total Vessels: 37,780
  • Reportable Accidents: 45
  • Fatalities: 4:
  • Injuries: 23
  • Property Damage: $321,000
  • Accident Rate: 1 for every 840 registered vessels
  • Rank: 6
  • Recreational Vessels: 40,618
  • Total Vessels: 42,072
  • Reportable Accidents: 34
  • Fatalities: 2
  • Injuries: 10
  • Property Damage: $555,500
  • Accident Rate: 1 for every 1,237 registered vessels

It should be noted that the property damage costs don’t account for the losses of those who suffer injuries or tremendous financial impact that occurs when a family member dies. These costs can include medical expenses, lost wages and ongoing treatment.

Whether your boating accident occurred in a recreational boat, commercial vessel or personal watercraft, our Fort Lauderdale boating accident lawyers know the legal issues central to these cases. Our goal is to assist you in obtaining just compensation.

Some of the boating accident cases we have successfully taken on have included:

Although most boating accidents happen in bays or sounds, a significant number also occur in gulf or ocean waters, as well as rivers, creeks and canals.

The primary types of accidents cited by the FWC were:

  • Collision with vessel
  • Collision with fixed object
  • Flooding/ swamping
  • Falls overboard
  • Grounding
  • Capsizing
  • Fire/ explosion
  • Fall in boat
  • Vessel wake damage
  • Struck underwater object
  • Fall on personal watercraft

Most common causes of boating accidents include:

  • Operator inexperience
  • No proper look-out
  • Operator inattention
  • Excessive speed
  • Machinery failure
  • Careless/ reckless
  • Hull failure
  • Hazardous waters
  • Alcohol use
  • Weather

Irresponsibility of some boaters is often to blame in these cases. Lack of boater education is a serious problem, with more than half of all boating operators involved in crashes having no boat operation training whatsoever.

For a long time, no boater education was required. However, as of Jan. 1, 2010, boat operators born before or after Jan. 1, 1988 must complete an approved boating safety course to legally operate a motorized vessel with 10 or more horsepower. This is not exactly a boating license, but completion of the course results in issuance of a Florida Boating Safety Education Identification Card. This is required for all boaters born in 1988 or after.

Boating and Alcohol Don’t Mix

Boating can be carefree and relaxing. Many take this as an invitation to imbibe. But safe operation of a motorized vessel requires sobriety. A substantial number of serious and deadly boating accidents involve an operator who was impaired by drugs or alcohol.

In fact, alcohol impairment, followed by excessive speed, is the leading primary cause of boating accidents resulting in death.

Still, there are less than 400 BUI citations issued annually by state officials.

Similar to driving a car, anyone who operates a boat with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 is considered legally drunk. F.S. 327.35 holds violators to the same standards as those caught driving a road vehicle drunk. That includes BUI manslaughter charges for anyone responsible for causing a fatal crash while operating a vessel under the influence.

Some legislators have even discussed a law that would make it so a BUI conviction would be treated the same way as a DUI on one’s driving record.

Serving people in the Fort Lauderdale area, our boating accident attorneys know the enormity of impact these accidents can have on your life. We are committed to helping South Florida boating accident victims obtain the compensation they deserve.

Call the injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm at (954) 761-3641 or locally at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties.

Client Reviews
I have worked with Richard, a true professional and trusted source. He has shown great strength and ability to lead is his greatest asset. His office support team cultivates a culture that executes obtainable turnaround results. Thank you Ansara Law Office. Charlene Worrell
The man
Twice I had problems with the law and twice he took care of me. A no nonsense kind of Lawyer. If you want your problems to go away, look no further. This guy is your Lawyer. I love you Rick, thx for all your help.
Great attorney and person to know. Came all the way from Fort Lauderdale to help me with a civil issue in St. Petersburg. Thank you for all your help, Rick! Celimar De Jesus
I would recommend Richard to anyone and I would hire him again with out hesitation. I did not know Richard Ansara. I found him on the internet. I live in another state so I had to trust. I left a message. I got a call back from Richard. He invested a lot of time just listening to what I needed him to do. It was not your traditional need. He told me what he felt he could accomplish. I liked his approach and the care he took in crafting his responses to me. I hired him. He went to work immediately. He always stayed in contact. I got progress reports from him on a regular basis. Richard completed the mission and did not overcharge me. His fee was more than fair and we got excellent results, just what we wanted. He seems to be a really good guy. That's important. A. James
The best lawyer I ever had. Very efficient and professional. The staff is amazing. He took care of my case very quickly and for an affordable price. Fernando Jimenez