Pleasure and recreational boating on Stuart’s miles of popular inland and Treasure Coast waterways must be navigated with caution to avoid boat accidents.
If you or a loved one are involved in a boating mishap, you should promptly contact a Stuart boat accident lawyer to ensure your legal rights are protected.
Accidents that occur on water are adjudicated under Maritime law, which is much different than law on the land. Such accidents necessitate a personal injury attorney in Stuart who is well-versed in Maritime Law to achieve the compensation you deserve for injuries and property damage.
Common Boat Accident Causes
Most boating accidents are caused by the operators, reports the Division of Law Enforcement of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which compiles records of water-borne mishaps around Stuart and the state of Florida.
Although operator inexperience is a major cause, Florida law does not require boat owners to complete a state-approved safety course and rules of the water, akin to rules of the road, such as right of way. The exception is when a person is convicted of a non-criminal or a reportable infraction. In that case, violator operating privilege is suspended until proof of completion is provided. Other causes include acts of carelessness or reckless behavior, speeding, and alcohol use.
Many mishaps occur in a bay, sound, or restricted area, as the craft is simply cruising or when it is changing its direction or rate of speed. Of all boating mishaps, 44 percent are collisions. Further causes can be explained by a knowledgeable boat accident lawyer in Stuart.
Generally, the passengers of water crafts are hurt more often and more seriously than the operators. A full 60 percent of passengers sustain injuries, while 40 percent of operators are hurt, the commission reports.
The most common injuries are to the head and back, broken bones, lacerations, and contusions, but death can happen in serious collisions, as well.
Reporting an Accident
Accidents must be reported if one or more of these situations occur:
- The vessel is destroyed
- Property damage to the vessel or other property is $2,000 or more
- An injury requires treatment more than simple first aid
- A person disappears and possible death or injury is suspected
- A person dies as a result of the accident
Those involved must remain at the accident scene and render aid to injured parties. The process of reporting an accident can be laid out by a knowledgeable Stuart boat accident lawyer.
Negligence Law in Boating Accidents
Finding who is at fault for an accident is determined by Florida’s modified comparative negligence law. The law places a percentage of blame when both parties have contributed fault. If the claimant is 50% or less at fault, their recovery is reduced by the percentage of their fault. If they are 51% or more at fault, they are barred from recovery entirely. For example, if one party is 40 percent at fault, only 60 percent of their claimed damages can be recovered. To understand such negligence laws, an individual should consult with a Stuart boat accident attorney.
To prove negligence, each of four elements of the law must be proven:
- Duty of care: A person has a legal obligation not to cause harm to another
- Breach: That duty was breached by the person’s action
- Causation: The breached act caused injury or damage to another
- Damages: The injured person sustained injury or damage to property
Contacting A Stuart Boat Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one is injured in a Stuart boating accident, it is in your best interest to promptly determine the strength of your case by meeting with a Stuart boat accident lawyer well-versed in Maritime law.
To prepare your case, the attorney can conduct an independent investigation of the incident and depose the other party and witnesses. A skilled attorney will aggressively manage your case and help you gather all of the evidence necessary to prove your damages claim at trial.
Civil cases are commonly settled without going to trial, and your boat accident attorney will negotiate with the insurance carrier to achieve the compensation you deserve.