Category Archives: Maritime Accidents

Top 5 Things You Should Do Immediately After a Boating Accident

Boating Accident in Pensacola FL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The great thing about living on the Gulf Coast is our proximity to various bodies of water.  Obviously, this also means when more of us are near water we will likely make use of those areas for our enjoyment and recreation.  We will go to the beach, we will ride on personal watercraft, we will go fishing, we will go water skiing and wakeboarding.  We will use the water for our enjoyment just as we use the land.

The unfortunate fact is that wherever we are enjoying activities (whether it be land or sea) it will be an area that may result in injury.

Boating accident injuries happen often in our area and when you or a loved one is a victim of a boating accident, it is imperative that the injured person or his/her family take certain steps to ensure they get immediate medical attention and that they do not sacrifice their legal rights in the process.

Florida had 836 boating accidents in 2020, which is 113 more accidents than in 2019, a 16% increase. A total of 79 people lost their lives last year in boating accidents, 14 more than the previous year

Top Contributing Factors of Boating Accidents (from the United States Coast Guard annual report)

  • Operator inattention
  • Operator inexperience
  •  Improper lookout
  • Excessive speed
  • Machinery failure
  • Alcohol use
  • Weather
  • Navigation rules violation
  • Hazardous waters
  •  Force of wave / wake

Top Common Injuries Sustained in Boating Accidents

Boating accidents can result in serious – and sometimes catastrophic – injuries or death. Some of the most common types of injuries sustained in Florida boating accidents include the following:

• Concussions and traumatic brain injuries
• Back and spinal cord injuries
• Soft tissue injuries
• Fractures and broken bones
• Permanent injuries
• Death

Boating Accident case in Pensacola

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Following Is A List of Things That Should Be Done Following An Injury From A Boating Accident:

1. Call 911

Any injury should be reported to 911 as soon as possible so that emergency help can be brought your way. When you are on the water, these calls will require a marine response and a land-based response.  It is imperative that this call be placed as soon as possible since many different agencies are involved in this response given that it has occurred on the water.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Officers (“FWC”) have jurisdiction in nearly all of the waters unless the accident occurs many miles offshore. The FWC will need to respond to all boating accidents, and they will rely on land-based EMS to assist them with the transportation of the injured person from the scene to the hospital. Many times, the FWC will have to organize marine transport to a dock for purpose of transporting the injured person to the hospital.

The sooner the 911 call is made the more time all of this can be coordinated.

2. Get A Report

As with car wrecks, it never makes sense to not get law enforcement to investigate the incident and have it written up in a report.  This is equally true for boating accidents.  The FWC will be the investigating agency and it will always mean that someone will need to report the boating accident.  If possible and you do not need immediate medical treatment, it may also require that you remain at the scene until the FWC officer has completed their investigation.

3. Document The Scene And Injuries

It is important to document the scene of the boating accident.  Pictures that depict the damages to the vessel can be critical evidence of the heading (direction) that each vessel was on at the time of the collision.  In boating accidents, the heading of the vessel can define which vessel is the “stand on” vessel and which vessel is the “give way” vessel.

The “stand on” vessel has the right to maintain its course and the “give way” vessel must steer clear of the “stand on” vessel.  The damage to the vessel can indicate the heading of each vessel at the time of impact and can, in and of itself, can be helpful in determining which vessel was the “stand on” vessel.

In addition to documenting the damages to the vessels, parties involved in a boating accident should also document any injuries.

Obviously, the first order of business after an injury is to make certain that all of those injured are stabilized and under the care of the right health care workers. As soon as those injuries are stabilized, someone should take pictures of the condition of the injury since it will also be relevant later in the boating accident case.

4. Record Names And Contact Information Of All Witnesses

Amazingly, after people leave the scene of a boating accident, they began to come up with reasons why the boating accident is not their fault. Parties can readily accept responsibility at the scene and then as they get further and further away from the boating accident, they begin to minimize their contribution to the cause and start explaining the boating accident on other’s conduct, not just their conduct. This is one part of human nature and one part basically financial protectionism. This is why it is always a good idea to get all names and contact information for anyone reporting to have seen the event.

You can never have too many witnesses since most of the time there will only be a few that actually have a good testimony.

5. Seek Out A Lawyer with Boating Accident Experience

As we have discussed in prior blog postings, boating accidents usually trigger federal maritime law.  This body of law can be a land mine for inexperienced lawyers, and it is imperative that you or your loved one seek out experienced advice from a lawyer with maritime experience in personal injury cases.

Since all personal injury lawyers have the same “no cost no fee unless you win” payout structure, there is no reason not to hire someone who is not a specialist.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Sources:

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/florida-keys/article243438316.html

https://myfwc.com/news/all-news/boating-stats-521/

https://americanboating.org/boating_fatality.asp

https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/water-safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html

Why Are There So Many Jet Ski Accidents? And How Can They be Avoided?

Many people choose to go jet skiing when they come to Florida, but unfortunately Florida jet ski accidents are more common than you think. When you think of Personal Watercraft (PWC), otherwise known as a Jet Ski, you think of fun, fast and loud…but what about crash? According to the United States Coast Guard (USCG), PWCs have a higher rate of collisions than any other type of boat and there are several reasons why.

A PWC is a vessel as defined by the USCG and subject to all the same rules and regulations as a 40-foot power cruiser. It could be that, due to it’s quirky handling characteristics, a PWC might require more experience.

Handling Characteristics

The claim files show that nearly 70% of PWC collisions are with another vessel, the majority of which are other PWCs. Inexperienced operators who are not familiar with judging speed and distances can suddenly find themselves on top of another boat (like other boats, PWC’s don’t have brakes and can take up to 300 feet to stop from 60 mph). PWC’s have several handling characteristics that make them completely different from most boats and take some skill to master.

Common Types of Collisions and Off-Throttle Steering

One of the most common types of collisions is caused by PWC’s inherent lack of steering whenever water isn’t being shot out of the stern. There is no rudder. Some newer models have devices that assist off-throttle steering, but the boats still have very limited slow-speed maneuverability and nearly no maneuverability at high speeds when the throttle is suddenly closed.

What is Off-Throttle Steering (OTS)?

PWCs generate their power by pulling water in through the impeller and pushing it out through the nozzle. The stream of accelerated water that moves through the nozzle also provides the steering ability for the vessel. A PWC will continue on the same course-even if the steering wheel is turned-once the throttle is off. Unlike operating a power-driven vessel-where slowing down or turning off the engine and steering through obstacles is advised-a PWC can maintain its steering ability only with the throttle applied. You must apply the throttle and steer away to avoid obstacles-once you release the throttle, you lose the ability to steer the craft.

Note: newer PWCs are equipped with off-throttle steering capabilities.

A study by the state of Florida showed that accidents due to lack of off-throttle steering is the second most common type. Typically, an inexperienced rider releases the throttle to try to avoid another boat, a dock, or a person in the water, and looses the ability to turn. Tapping the throttle is one way to regain steering, but it also increases speed (and severity of accidents) and must be practiced. In a few claims, a collision occurred because the engine died at slow speeds, rendering the steering useless. PWC engines must be serviced routinely and allowed to warm up before taking off.

PWCs are able to turn much sharper and faster than a typical boat and the forces generated by such maneuvers can throw a passenger or even the operator into the water. Smacking into the water at high speeds can cause serious injuries. For this reason, every state requires PWC riders to wear approved PFDs and most require safety lanyards that shut down the engine if the operator is thrown off.

Steering Loss as a Contributing Factor

With some models reaching 250 horsepower and speeds up to 70MPH, a personal watercraft can coast about a hundred yards in the direction it was traveling after the throttle has been released.  What compounds the danger of steering loss is the fact there are no brakes available while coasting.  According to statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) 24% of the accidents associated with personal watercraft have cited loss of control or steering loss as a contributing factor.  In Florida where there are a high number of personal water recreation vehicles used, the number is far higher making it the second cause of accidents.

Injuries

According to the US Coast Guard, PWCs are involved in 30% of all reported boating accidents. And 36% of all boating injuries take place on PWCs. PWC collisions result in more injuries and deaths than any other type of PWC accident. And, unlike all other types of boats, PWC operators are more likely to die from blunt-force trauma than from drowning. Most often, riders strike another boat due to inattention, excessive speed, or loss of control. The collisions typically throw the rider and passengers off the boat, often resulting in broken limbs, sometimes from simply striking the water at high speed (Claim #9608267) Broken teeth and noses are common injuries after being in a collision, usually after striking steering bars.

According to the myfwc.com 2018 report – July sees the highest number of accidents with 120 accidents, 87 injuries, seven fatalities on PWC.

Florida Regulations

Florida has several regulations that try to curb personal watercraft accidents, but these regulations cannot ensure everyone is driving safely. In Florida, the operator of a personal watercraft must be over fourteen years old, and if someone wants to rent a personal watercraft they must be over eighteen. Also, it is illegal for someone to knowingly let someone younger than fourteen drive a jet ski in Florida. Every driver must have a cutoff switch attached to his or her person so the jet ski powers off if the driver falls into the water. Driving a jet ski a half hour before or after sunrise or sunset is illegal, as is weaving through boat traffic. If you weave through traffic on a jet ski in Florida, you are committing a first-degree misdemeanor.

If you’ve been the victim of a boating or PWC accident caused by another’s carelessness, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Instead, put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve.

Joe Zarzaur, founder of Zarzaur Law, P.A., a Pensacola Personal Injury law firm, has created this blog in an effort to educate the many citizens and visitors of Pensacola, Florida about their legal rights. Joe Zarzaur knows the ins and outs of Florida law, and offers friendly-quality legal help whether you have experienced an auto accident/car wreck, have been a victim of medical malpractice or are in need of a personal injury lawyer. For more information, visit: https://www.zarzaurlaw.com

11 E Romana Street
Pensacola, FL 32502
Telephone: 850-444-9299
Email: info@zarzaurlaw.com

Sources:

https://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/SWPWC.asp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_watercraft-related_accidents

http://www.daytonajetski.com/rules.html

https://myfwc.com/media/20586/2018-pwa.pdf

https://myfwc.com/boating/regulations/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYqLXas8Uo0

Boating Accidents on the Rise in Florida.

As Summer heats up experienced, and novice boaters, hit the water for fun with friends and and family. No one ever leaves the dock expecting not to return. And yet, on Florida waters in 2018, 59 did just that. Another 307 were injured, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 2018 Boating Accident Statistical Report.

The number of fatalities dipped from 2016 and 2017 when 67 were killed each year. There were over 950,000 registered vessels in Florida in 2018, which leads the nation.

Officials Say the Number of Boating accidents in Florida is Rising.

In 2017, 261 boating accidents involved collisions, and 38 percent of all collisions were due to inattention or the operator failing to maintain a proper lookout.

The commission also said that falls overboard have been the leading type of fatal accident since 2003, with drowning as the leading cause of death.

Top Contributing Factors of Boating Accidents (from the United States Coast Guard annual report)

1. Operator inattention
2. Operator inexperience
3. Improper lookout
4. Excessive speed
5. Machinery failure
6. Alcohol use
7. Weather
8. Navigation rules violation
9. Hazardous waters
10. Force of wave / wake

Top Common Injuries Sustained in Boating Accidents

Boating accidents can result in serious – and sometimes catastrophic – injuries or death. Some of the most common types of injuries sustained in Florida boating accidents include the following:
• Concussions and traumatic brain injuries
• Back and spinal cord injuries
• Soft tissue injuries
• Fractures and broken bones
• Permanent injuries
• Death

Tips to Prevent Injuries and Death While Boating:
  1. Do not operate the vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  2. Do not turn down your emergency radio
  3. Avoid excessive speed while boating
  4. Make sure your boat is properly maintained
  5. If you are renting a boat, read the liability waiver carefully
  6. Know the law about life jackets and make sure everybody is wearing one
  7. Do not overload your boat
  8. Know what to do in case of an emergency
  9. Make sure your safety equipment is in good working order, and
  10. Make sure you know how to use it
  11. Get a free vessel safety check performed by a qualified U.S. Coast Guard auxiliary vessel examiner
  12. Watch the weather
  13. Take a boating safety course – Here are links to a few online courses:
    – https://www.boatus.org/florida/
    – https://www.uscgboating.org/recreational-boaters/boating-safety-courses.php
    – https://myfwc.com/boating/safety-education/courses/
    – http://www.americasboatingcourse.com

If you’ve been the victim of a boating accident caused by another’s carelessness, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Instead, put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve.

Joe Zarzaur, founder of Zarzaur Law, P.A., a Pensacola Personal Injury law firm, has created this blog in an effort to educate the many citizens and visitors of Pensacola, Florida about their legal rights. Joe Zarzaur knows the ins and outs of Florida law, and offers friendly-quality legal help whether you have experienced an auto accident/car wreck, have been a victim of medical malpractice or are in need of a personal injury lawyer. For more information, visit: https://www.zarzaurlaw.com

11 E Romana Street
Pensacola, FL 32502
Telephone: 850-444-9299
Email: info@zarzaurlaw.com

Sources:

https://www.tcpalm.com/story/sports/fishing-boating/2019/05/17/there-were-59-boating-fatalities-2018-florida/3708105002/

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2018/06/08/491644.htm

Channel – Photos

https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/summer/boating