Articles Posted in Boating Accidents

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A South Florida boating accident recently claimed the life of one man and injured two others. Investigators are working to piece together what happened. boating

Two boats were moving side-by-side along the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale when one of the operators lost control and smashed into a dock located in the rear of a private residence. The impact of the collision resulted in a 24-year-old man being ejected from the vessel, where he struck his head on the concrete sea wall. He was pronounced dead at the scene, while two others were transported to a local hospital for treatment. They are expected to survive their injuries.

Officials are unsure exactly why the vessels were moving side-by-side or how fast they were traveling. However, there is some indication speed was a factor because the impact of the crash was forceful enough to send a passenger out of the boat. Further, there is some indication more than one person was operating the vessel that crashed in the moments prior to impact. There is also an ongoing inquiry into whether alcohol may have played a role in the crash.

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Plaintiff in Hodson v. Taylor was a teenager when he ventured out with a group of friends on a private lake in a pontoon boat owned by one of the friend’s parents.
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The group spent some time cruising around the lake and stopped a few times to swim. When they stopped at their final spot, plaintiff dove in. But the water was far too shallow. He struck the bottom and was instantly paralyzed from the chest down.

He now suffers limited movement of his shoulders and hands. Doctors say he will never walk again.
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Florida boaters enjoy some 8,400 miles of external and internal coastline along the ocean, including the gulf and various lakes and rivers.
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While injuries caused by the negligence of boat operators is almost certainly worthy of compensation, those that arise out of the “natural condition” of the landscape generally are not. Additionally, local and state governments are generally protected under sovereign immunity laws.

However, as a recent case out of Utah illustrates, this protection is not absolute. Further, our Naples boat accident lawyers understand the definition of “natural condition” may not be narrowly interpreted by all courts.
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The impact of a horrific, three-boat crash following a firework display over the Biscayne Bay to celebrate the Fourth of July left four people dead and three suffering critical injuries. A total of eight were transported to the hospital.
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Investigators, while still working to piece together the exact details of the chaotic scene, have announced they believe alcohol was a possible contributing cause to the crash.

Our Fort Myers Beach boating accident lawyers understand Florida was the No. 1 state for boating fatalities in 2013, continuing a trend that has been noted over the last decade – second only to California, which has twice the population of Florida.
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One woman is dead after a tube in a boat flew out and yanked her with it. The line of the tube wrapped around her neck and she was pulled overboard, according to NBC2. Investigators are still looking into the accident to see what led to her death.
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The victim was a 23-year-old from Cape Coral. She died as a result of her injuries. Although officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) say that they’ve never heard of something like this happening, it is one of many risks present when enjoying a day on the water. Wind can be a problem when boating, regardless of what kind of boat you’re on. That’s something that you need to consider before heading out for an afternoon. Investigators have also reportedly determined alcohol a factor in the accident.

Our Fort Myers Beach boating accident lawyers know Florida is the most dangerous state in the country for these kinds of accidents. Our state continues to lead in the total number of registered boats, with more than 900,000 registered in 2012. During that same year, there were more than 700 boating accidents reported throughout the state.

Most commonly (accounting for more than 40 percent), these fatal accidents were the result of falling overboard. The leading cause of death was drowning, accounting for more than 60 percent of all boating fatalities. The deadliest month on the books was the month of July.

Drug and alcohol use played a role in more than 10 percent of the fatal boating accidents reported throughout the year. There were close to 60 people who died in all boating accidents reported in the state of Florida in 2012. Close to 65 percent of the victims were operators who were over the age of 35. More than 30 percent involved vessels that were less than 23 feet in length.

Aside from the fatalities, there were close to 400 injuries sustained in 2012 boating accidents.

Did you know that more than 70 percent of the operators who were involved in fatal accidents had no formal boater education?

And Lee County is one of the most dangerous counties in the state. We saw close to 30 accidents in 2012, with one fatality and 10 injuries. We were ranked as the 8th most dangerous in the state.

It’s a dangerous time of year to be out on the water. There’s a lot of boating traffic and the accident risks are high. So before you head out, make sure your passengers understand how to stay safe on the water. Enjoy your day in the sun, but enjoy it safely.
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There are many rules of the water, and they’re all enacted to keep us safe and to keep boat traffic flowing smoothly. Unfortunately, despite those laws, one boater’s afternoon recently turned deadly in Collier County.

According to ABC7, a 61-year-old man was killed after the boat he was riding was slammed into a channel marker in Naples’ waters. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said it happened in Dollar Bay, just before 8:00 p.m. at channel marker 71. Accident reports indicate that the accident was alcohol-related. Upon impact, the victim and his wife were ejected from the boat and sent 15 feet in the air.

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“When our officers investigate the case, they’re going to look at all of the factors that were involved in the accident. And that certainly speed will be one of those,” said Carli Segelson with the FWC.

Our Naples boating accident lawyers understand that Florida has more than 8,000 miles of coastline and 4,500 square miles of inland waterways, making it a paradise for boaters! From mega-yachts to wooden skiffs, having a boat is as normal as having a car for some Floridians. Unfortunately, there are many risks associated with your leisurely days in the sun.

According to the FWC, the Sunshine State has the highest number of boating accidents in the nation, with approximately 25 percent more than the next following state. Collier is ranked ninth statewide for the highest number of annual accidents, most of which occur in open motorboats, cabin motorboats and personal watercraft.

Top 5 Causes of Boating Accidents:

-Operator Inattention
-Improper Lookout
-Operator Inexperience
-Excessive Speed
-Alcohol
The operator of a boat that’s involved in an accident where there is personal injury beyond immediate first-aid, death, disappearance of any person under circumstances which indicate death or injury or even if there is damage to the boat (or other boats) and/or there is personal property of at least $2,000, is responsible to give notice to one of the following:

-The FWC
-The sheriff of the county.

-The police chief of the municipality.

Boating Accident Statistics:

-Most of the people who die in boating accidents die from drowning.

-About 80 percent of these victims were not using a life jacket at the time of the accident.

-Close to three-quarters of these victims who drowned were in boats under 21 feet in length.

-Alcohol is a contributing factor in more than 15 percent of fatal boating accidents in the country.

With the summer season, we can expect a lot of Floridians and visitors to hit our waterways — especially on weekends. It only takes one wrong move, one bad decision or one second of inattention for a fatal accident to happen. It’s critical that we keep safety as a number one priority to help make sure that everyone safely enjoys their day under that Florida sun.
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Each year, the state of Florida sees more boating accidents that any other state in the country. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there were nearly 700 boating accidents reported in the Sunshine State in 2011. The runner up was the state of California, which reported about 400 accidents.
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With that being said, our Naples boating accident attorneys are asking boaters to be safe out there as accident risks have skyrocketed in the month of March. During this time, we get spring breakers and vacationers from around the country and they’re all headed here for our sandy beaches and boating amenities.

Officials calculate that there have been close to 50 boating accidents in Collier County since 2011. This gave our area the 7th-place rank for the most dangerous county in the state for these kinds of incidents.

Dangerous Counties for Boating Accidents in 2011:

1.) Monroe: Close to 100 accidents reported.

2.) Miami-Dade: 75 accidents reported.

3.) Palm Beach: Close to 60 accidents reported.

4.) Broward: More than 40 accidents reported.

5.) Lee: Close to 50 accidents reported.

There are a number of common causes for boating accidents across the state. Some of the most common are collisions with other vessels, falls overboard, capsizing, colliding with a fixed object and flooding.

You’re asked to be safe out there at all times — even when cruising. As a matter of fact, a large majority of these accidents happen while boaters are just cruising along.

If you’re a local and you own your own boat, don’t think you’re in the clear. Statistics show that 80 percent of the vessels involved in these accidents are actually owned by the operator. Comparatively fewer accidents involve a boat that was rented or borrowed, though those operators could face higher risks.

The truth of the matter is that one of the primary factors contributing to vessel accidents is operator inexperience. And that’s another reason why the proper boating training is so important for everyone.

In addition to making sure your boating skills are on point, you should have your vessel regularly maintained. You can have your boat checked for free by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron volunteer organizations.

More Boating Safety Tips:

-Make sure that all children under 6 are wearing a Coast Guard-approved life jacket while underway in Florida waters, and up to 3 miles from shore.

-Make sure you know how much your boat can hold and never overload it.

-Tell someone when you’re going and when you plan on returning.

-Make sure you’ve got a radio on board and it’s on at all times.

-Check the weather conditions before you head out and periodically while you’re already on the water.

-Always carry emergency supplies with you, including a first-aid kit, extra bottled water, batteries, a flashlight, emergency flares and sunscreen.
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We have the luxury of living a snow-free lifestyle.

But, while we get to dismiss the dangers that are associated with snow and ice, we get to continually welcome to dangers associated with fun in the sun — and that includes boating accidents.
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According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, about 60 percent of the boating accidents that happened in the state of Florida throughout the entire year of 2011 happened in 10 counties. Lee, unfortunately, was one of those counties. We were ranked as the 5th most dangerous county in the state for boating accidents.

Our Fort Myers boating accident lawyers understand that there were close to 40 reported boating accidents in Lee County in 2011. In these accidents, 1 person died and close to 20 were injured. The only counties that were worse off than us were Monroe County, Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach County and Broward County.

In Lee County, the most common type of vessel involved in boating accidents were open motorboats, followed by cabin motorboats and personal watercraft. The number one cause of these incidents was machinery failure, followed by weather and then operator inattention. The most common type of accident endured by boaters in the area was flooding, followed closely by collisions with fixed objects and collisions with other vessels.

When looking at a map of boating accidents in Lee County, you can clearly see that they most commonly happened along Fort Myers Beach and in the Caloosahatchee River.

In most boating accidents in the area, victims who were fatally wounded were not wearing a life jacket at the time of the accident. Less than 30 percent of boat operators and occupants were reportedly wearing personal flotation devices when an accident occurred.

Formal boat training is one of the most important safety precautions you can take to help to prevent a boating accident. In reported accidents, only about a third of boat operators had any sort of formal boating training.

Boaters are asked to pay close attention to the surrounding. Operator inattention and carelessness are two of the top causes of boating accidents in the state of Florida.

You’re also reminded to always wear your life jacket and make sure there is one for each person on your boat. To meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements, a boat must have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, III, or V life jacket for each person aboard.

You’re also urged to get your Boater Safety Education Card. If you were born on or after January 1st of 1988, then you are required to have a Boating Safety Education ID Card. Only if you have one of these cards are you legally allowed to operate a boat in Florida.
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In 2011, there were nearly 750 people who were killed in boating accidents in the state of Florida.

Many of these accidents could have been prevented. According to accident reports, nearly 55 percent of the victims who were killed in these accidents were not wearing a life jacket when the accident happened. It’s like riding in a car. You’re always urged to wear a seat belt. The same should be true on the water — you wear a life jacket.

Most boaters think that it’s good enough to have life jackets stored in the boat. The truth of the matter is that boaters are not always able to locate and put on the life jacket in enough time when an accident happens.
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“Sinking boats usually go down fast, and people who have been ejected often end up unconscious, so it’s extremely important that people wear the life jacket, or at the very least, have it readily accessible,” said Joy Hill, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Our Fort Myers boating accident attorneys understand that boaters are required to make sure that there is at least one properly fitted, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person that’s on a boat. Kids who are under the age of 6 are required to wear a life jacket at all times.

Unfortunately, many boaters don’t abide by these laws. Many boaters say that life jackets are hot and bothersome and choose to jeopardize their safety instead. Luckily, life jackets are getting more and more advanced. They are now lightweight, inflatable life jackets that may help to ease some of the comfort concerns. Jackets are now considerably smaller than they used to be and now some of them will even inflate once you hit the water so that you don’t have to worry about the bulkiness beforehand.

In the state of Florida, nearly 60 percent of the reported boating accidents from 2011 were reported in 10 Florida counties — including Lee and Collier counties
2011 Boating Accidents in Lee County:

-Open Motorboat: 22
-Cabin Motorboat: 9
-Personal Watercraft: 5
-Pontoon Boat: 5
-Sail (aux power): 3
-Not specified: 2
-Houseboat: 1
In these accidents, the most common cause was machinery failure, followed by weather, operator inattention, carelessness, excessive speed and congested waters. Most of these accidents were flooding accidents. But many others were caused from collisions with fixed objects and other vessels in addition to fires and explosions.

2011 Boating Accidents in Collier County:

-Open Motorboat: 15
-Airboat: 7
-Personal Watercraft: 4
-Sail (aux power): 4
-Cabin Motorboat: 2
-Other: 2
-Not Specified: 2
-Canoe/Kayak: 2
-Mini Jet Boat: 1
-Pontoon Boat: 1 Continue reading →

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This is the second part of our two-part blog series in which we are discussing the commonality of boating accidents in Fort Myers and elsewhere throughout the state. The most recent state statistics provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission indicate that there were nearly 70 boating-related fatalities on our waterways in 2009. There were nearly 80 in 2010. Florida ranked number one for the year, followed by California with nearly 50 fatalities. Florida has the most registered vessels in the country, with nearly 942,000 in 2010. Of the near 80 fatalities, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigated nearly 90 percent of them, while officials from sheriff’s offices looked into about 8 percent and police investigated about 3 percent.
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There were fewer registered vessels in 2010 than in 2009, but there were more fatalities reported. Our Fort Myers boat accident attorneys understand that the most dangerous months on our waterways are May, July and November, but boaters are asked to practice caution all year round. Most boating accidents in 2010 occurred between 4 and 5:59 p.m.

Most common Florida Boating Fatal Accidents:

-Falling overboard: 26.

-Colliding with another vessel: 9.

-Flooding (Swamping): 8.

-Collision with a fixed object: 4.

-Fall in boat: 2.

-Skier hit object: 2.

-Fall on personal watercraft: 1.

-Collision with a person/falling object: 1.

-Grounding: 1.

Locations of fatal accidents:

-Lake/pond: 21.

-River/creek: 14.

-Bay/sound: 13.

-Ocean/Gulf: 10.

-Canal/cut: 6.

-Inlet/pass: 4.

-Port/harbor: 3.

-Other: 2.

Most of these accidents occurred on propeller vessels in 12 to 16 feet of water. Open motorboats were the most likely to be in an accident. Operators between the age of 35 and 50 were most likely to get into a fatal accident, yet operators between the ages of 22 and 35 were most likely to navigate the water without formal boater education even though they were the second highest group to have boating education. Boating is a popular activity for this age group.

Florida residents accounted for 90 percent of the boating-related fatalities in 2010. Non-residents accounted for the remaining victims. Alcohol or drug-related accidents accounted for nearly a quarter of all fatal accidents.

The most dangerous counties in Florida for fatal boating accidents:

-Monroe County: 103 accidents.

-Miami-Dade County: 72 accidents.

-Palm Beach County: 60 accidents.

-Pinellas County: 53 accidents:

-Lee County: 33 accidents.

-Broward County: 29 accidents:

-Brevard County: 23 accidents.

-Bay County: 22 accidents.

-Collier County: 20 accidents.

-Okaloosa County: 19 accidents.

-Volusia County: 18 accidents.

Miami-Date had the most issued boating education cards. More than 6,500 licenses were handed over to boaters under the age of 17. These boaters were most likely to receive a boater’s safety education card, followed by those ages 17 to 21.

Boating injuries and fatalities can be prevented with the proper safety measures and education.
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