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Florida Leads Nation in Boating Accidents

A man is suing his former girlfriend’s father after a boating injury in which he suffered paralyzing injuries and is now a quadriplegic.boating

According to news reports, the lawsuit (filed in New Hampshire by the 27-year-old) alleges he was spending time with his girlfriend at her father’s lake house, where father/ defendant owned a boat. The group took the boat out to a sandbar, where the plan was to anchor. Plaintiff, inexperienced in boating, was helping defendant drop the anchor, at defendant’s request. Defendant, a regular boater, did not inform plaintiff of proper boating procedures, particularly for sandbars, and plaintiff dove into the water to help with the anchor. The problem was the water was only 3 feet deep. Plaintiff’s injuries were catastrophic. He now alleges defendant violated boating regulations by standing on the gunnel while the boat was in motion, and also in directing him to jump in when the water was so shallow. Plaintiff’s attorney said the dangers of this were not obvious to an inexperienced boater.

Florida is no stranger to cases like these, considering we lead the nation in total number of registered vessels – 932,000 in 2016, according to the latest figures from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). There were a total of 714 reportable boating accidents in the Sunshine State last year. Of those, one quarter involved a collision with another vehicle. A third of the fatal accidents involved falls overboard, and overboard boating is the No. 1 cause of fatalities in Florida boating.

In all last year, there were 67 deaths stemming from 56 boating accidents.

Florida by far has the most boating accidents nationally. For example, while Florida had 671 reported accidents in 2015, the state that had the second-most, California, had just 369 – and California has significantly more people than Florida. The only state that has more coastline than Florida is Alaska, and recreational boating is much less popular there.

In just looking at Lee County, there are 47,189 total registered vessels (45,000 of those being recreational vessels). Last year, there were 39 reported accidents, 29 injuries and 6 deaths. We rank No. 5 in the state in terms of our boating accident rate. These incidents collectively caused $1.4 million just in property damage alone. The cost to individuals, families and communities of those affected is astronomical when you start to consider the cost of emergency response, medical bills, lost wages and long-term disability and care.

In Collier County, there were nearly 23,000 registered vessels and 31 reportable accidents last year. No one died, but 8 people were injured. The county ranked No. 7 in the state. Charlotte County, meanwhile, had 22,000 registered vessels and 18 reportable accidents. Within those, four people were killed and 11 injured. Its accident rate ranked No. 10 in the state.

The most common type of Florida boating accidents include:

  • Collision with vessel;
  • Collision with fixed object;
  • Flooding/ swamping;
  • Falls overboard;
  • Grounding;
  • Capsizing.

Contributing factors included no proper lookout/ inattention, operator inexperience, excessive speed, machinery failure, careless/ reckless driving, hazardous waters/ weather, alcohol use.

The most serious accidents tend to occur while the vessel was in cruising mode, though some did occur while the boat was driving or changing direction.

Call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.

Additional Resources:

Boat owner seeks to have lawsuit over diving injury that left man paralyzed dismissed, May 19, 2017, By Bea Lewis, Union Leader

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