The State of Florida averages more than 200 sunny days per year. The warm weather lends itself to enjoying the great outdoors, and for Floridians that means water recreation. There’s nothing quite like relaxing on a luxury boat or romping the ocean on a jet ski.
Unfortunately, some people lose sight of the fact that the sea can be as dangerous as it is beautiful. The recent death of the Miami Marlins’ 24-year-old pitcher Jose Fernandez in a tragic late-night boating accident is a reminder of just how quickly things can change on the water.
Boating accidents are far too common
With more than 1,300 coastal miles and 4,500 square miles of inland recreational water resources, Florida has among the highest number of registered recreational vessels in the U.S. at nearly one million. It is also home to 95 percent of powerboats under 26 feet in length. Unfortunately, Florida consistently leads the nation in recreational boating accidents.
While some accidents are unavoidable, busy waterways and inexperienced operators are not always to blame. The most common causes of boating accidents include:
- Driving at excessive speeds
- Operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs)
- Exceeding passenger or weight limits
- Impaired visibility of the boat pilot
Common boating injuries
Boats are often traveling at high rates of speed when significant accidents occur. The resulting injuries tend to resemble those of catastrophic car collisions. In boating accidents, though, people are less likely to be wearing seatbelts. Water does not afford a soft landing, resulting in serious injuries such as:
- Bone and ligament damage: Generally caused by impact in the boat or with the water, and unnatural twisting of the body during a crash.
- Spinal cord injuries: Damage to the spine caused by being thrown and twisting during water impacts.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): Severe blows to the head can have debilitating, long-term negative effects on brain function. TBIs are common when boat passengers or jet ski riders hit the water.
If you sustain an unfortunate injury while enjoying Florida’s waters, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses, including medical treatment, disability, lost wages, pain and suffering. Keep in mind that your personal injury claim may fall under state or admiralty law jurisdiction. Seek help from an attorney with experience navigating both legal systems.