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What You Should Know About Boat Accidents in Florida

Understanding Florida’s Boating Laws & Injury Claims After a Boat Accident

Florida’s endless summer, with its blue waters, scenic coastlines, and many lakes and rivers, beckons boating enthusiasts all year round. To keep the boating scene in Florida fun for everyone, it’s important to always remember your responsibility to navigate the waters both carefully and legally. Understanding Florida’s boating laws can make the difference between a day of joy and a tangled mess of legal issues, especially if a boating accident occurs.

In Florida, there were more than one million registered recreational boating vessels in 2022, more than any other state. Unfortunately, Florida also has more boating accidents and boating fatalities than any other state, too. At Schlesinger Law Offices in Fort Lauderdale, we want to see the number of boating accidents in our state drop to zero. To do our part in making that happen, we’d like to share here a few important things you should know about boat accidents and boating regulations, as well as the legal processes that follow a boat accident.

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Layperson’s Guide to Florida Boating Regulations

Currently, a boating license is not required by Florida law, but any person operating a vessel of 10 horsepower or greater must successfully complete an approved boating safety course and obtain a Boating Safety Education Identification Card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Boat owners must also register, title, and properly mark their boat with its registration number. Depending on the size of the vessel, the FWC requires owners to carry certain safety equipment on board, such as personal flotation devices, fire extinguishers, visual distress signals, a loud horn or bell, etc.

The State does not require Florida boat owners to carry insurance, but many lenders require insurance if the boat is financed. Nevertheless, because of Florida’s busy waterways, the state’s hurricane record, and the potential high cost of damages for larger vessels, it is a good idea to have insurance regardless of what is required.

In Case of a Boating Accident

If you are involved in a boating accident, you should take certain actions, including:

  • Helping others: If the boat accident caused injury or there was significant property damage, it is required by law that you provide immediate assistance, as long as it does not imperil your vessel or passengers.
  • Notifying the authorities: If an accident involves injuries, fatalities, disappearances, or considerable property damage, you must notify the proper authorities (the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the sheriff of the county in which the accident occurred, or the police department of the municipality in which the accident occurred) as soon as you can. Leaving the scene of a boating accident, especially when someone is injured, or property is damaged, is illegal and can lead to felony or misdemeanor charges.
  • Exchanging information: In any boating accident, you should exchange contact and registration details with all parties involved. You should also get contact information from witnesses who were not involved in the incident.
  • Documenting the scene: Once everyone is safe, it is important to document the scene. Take photos and take notes on conditions and any potential contributing factors including but not limited to weather and water conditions, date and time of day, location including any nearby landmarks, buoys, or GPS coordinates, traffic levels, and details of the vessels involved.
  • Getting medical treatment: If you suffered any injuries, seek medical attention, even if injuries seem minor. A thorough check-up on the same day as the accident is crucial.
  • Asking for legal help: Contact an injury lawyer with experience in boating accidents, like our team at Schlesinger Law Offices, before navigating insurance claims or potential legal actions.
Boating Accident Lawyer

Value of a Boating Accident Injury Claim

Navigating the aftermath of a boating accident is complex and can be overwhelming due to the physical, emotional, and financial tolls. This is where the value of a personal injury lawyer becomes obvious and where the experience of the South Florida boat accident attorneys at Schlesinger Law Offices becomes your beacon in the storm. Boating accidents are governed by a distinct set of laws and regulations. Our lawyers are well-versed in state and federal boating regulations. This specialized knowledge is crucial for effectively handling your case, ensuring all legal avenues are explored, and your claim is filed correctly and promptly.

The Schlesinger Law Offices Difference

When you need to file a boating accident claim in South Florida, you will have your choice of law firms and lawyers to help you. Why should you choose Schlesinger Law Offices, though? We think the choice is clear once you learn just a little more about our firm and our experience with boat accident claims and lawsuits.

The Schlesinger Law Offices difference includes the following and more:

  • Investigative resources: Determining liability in boating accidents requires a thorough investigation. The boat accident lawyers at Schlesinger Law Offices have access to a network of experts, including accident reconstruction specialists and maritime safety consultants, to investigate and help build a compelling case on your behalf. They can meticulously analyze accident reports, inspect and photograph the vessel(s), review safety protocols, and interview witnesses to establish the facts.
  • Compassionate client advocacy: At Schlesinger Law Offices, we provide more than just legal representation; we offer compassionate advocacy for our clients. We understand that the period following a boating accident is stressful, and our lawyers are committed to handling all legal matters with empathy and respect for your emotional state, allowing you to focus on recovery.
  • Legal strategy and litigation: In the event that a fair settlement cannot be reached, our attorneys are ready to litigate on your behalf. With a strong record of accomplishment in the courtroom, Schlesinger Law Offices can craft a strategic legal approach, present a persuasive case, and advocate vigorously for your interests before a jury.
  • Fighting for just compensation: Our primary goal is to reach a settlement or verdict for an amount that will cover your losses, including medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, property damages, as well as compensation for pain and suffering that are a result of the accident.
  • Proactive communication: Throughout the legal process, our lawyers maintain clear and proactive communication with you. They keep you informed of every development in your case, advise you of your options at every turn, and ensure that your questions and concerns are addressed promptly.

For Any Questions, Call Schlesinger Law Offices

Florida’s boating laws are in place to ensure everyone enjoys the state’s beautiful waterways safely and responsibly. However, not every boater will be as responsible as they should be. Knowing the legal requirements is just the beginning of pursuing compensation if you find yourself in the wake of a boating accident. Having a South Florida boat accident lawyer from Schlesinger Law Offices on your side is crucial to handling the legal storm that may follow. We are ready to help you chart the best course forward, so your post-accident journey can lead to a safe harbor.

For a free boat accident case evaluation, call (954) 467-8800 now.