West Palm Beach Boat Accident Lawyer
Florida has far more boat accidents than any other state with more than 915,000 crafts of various descriptions registered, according to state statistics. West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County have fewer reported incidents than other locations, but wherever water-borne incidents happen, serious injuries and significant property damage commonly occur.
The person who is responsible for causing the injury or damage by their negligence could be cited by authorities and later sued by others involved in the event, including occupants of the offending craft’s operator. Such damages may be able to be recovered using a West Palm Beach injury lawyer.
If you or a loved one were involved in a boating accident caused by the negligence of another boater, then a West Palm Beach boat accident lawyer can help you determine what legal options you have and next steps you should take.
Common Causes and Injuries
Many incidents are caused by inexperienced operators, reckless or careless acts, excessive speed, and alcohol use is also a factor, according to records compiled by Division of Law Enforcement of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Florida does not require vessel owners to take a class in safety and the rules on water.
Most incidents happen in a bay or sound and in restricted areas when cruising or changing direction or speed. 44 percent of these injuries are collisions, the agency reported.
The occupants of pleasure water crafts often sustain more injuries than do the operators. In fact, 60 percent of occupants, compared to about 40 percent of operators, are harmed, the agency reports. The most common injuries are lacerations and contusions, broken bones, head and back injuries.
Criteria for Reporting an Accident
Florida law requires that an accident be promptly reported to the proper authorities if one or more of five things occur. These are if:
- A person dies
- A person disappears under circumstances that indicate possible death or injury
- A person receives an injury requiring medical treatment beyond immediate first aid
- At least $2,000 aggregate property damage to the vessel (or vessels) or other property
- The vessel is a total loss
Other less serious mishaps may go unreported. The parties involved must remain at the scene and render aid to the injured, under Florida law.
Determining Legal Responsibility
The party or parties responsible for a mishap on the water are determined by the state’s negligence law. Florida’s standard is comparative negligence, which splits the blame based on the distribution of fault/contribution to the accident.
Under this legal theory, damages are limited by the degree of negligence of the parties involved. Such negligence can be determined by a West Palm Beach boat accident attorney.
Elements of Negligence
To prove negligence, a party must prove these five elements of the law:
- A person had a legal “duty of care” not to cause risk to another
- That duty was breached by the person’s action
- That breach caused injury to another
- The person should have known the breach would cause injury
- The injured person did, in fact, sustain injury to claim damages
For an individual to understand if these criteria were met in their accident case, it is important they consult with a boat accident lawyer in West Palm Beach immediately.
Benefit of an Attorney
Those injured in an incident on the water should contact a West Palm Beach boat accident lawyer to make a claim or file a civil lawsuit and recover damages. Maritime law is very different than the law governing on land. The attorney an individual retains must be well-versed in maritime law to ensure a strong representation.
A knowledgeable attorney can develop an individual’s case by gathering evidence, conducting interviews with the opposing party and witnesses that are legally binding, called depositions, and guide the individual in documenting their medical bills and other damages, such as pain and suffering and property damages.
Many civil lawsuits are settled out of court. An individual’s West Palm Beach boat accident attorney will also negotiate with the insurance company involved to obtain a settlement that is satisfactory to their client. It is important for an individual to refrain from accepting an early settlement offer until they meet with a seasoned attorney.