There are more reportable boat accidents in Miami-Dade County than anywhere else in the state of Florida. A boat accident must be reported if causes an injury, results in death, or involves property damage exceeding $2,000. In 2015, there nearly 100 “major” boat accidents in Miami. Those accidents were responsible for 3 deaths, 74 injuries, and more than $3 million in damage to property.
Why are boating accidents so common in Miami? How can you avoid an accident if you are out on the open water? Personal injury attorney Boris Lavent discuss six frequently reported causes of boating accidents. Knowing why accidents happen can help you stay safe.
1. Distracted Operators
Boats are powerful vessels that must be operated with attention and care. Unfortunately, many people hit the open waters to have a good time and forget to pay attention to their surroundings. Boat operators may become distracted because of passengers, a cell phone, or even food. When a boating operator isn’t paying attention, they cannot fulfill their duty of care to navigate the boat safely. It becomes much more difficult to adapt to changes in the weather or currents, or to identify potential hazards at sea. Distracted operators are also much more likely to collide with a recreational vessel or fixed object, ground the vessel or fall overboard.
2. Boating Under the Influence
It’s a crime to operate a boat in Florida while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A boating operator can be considered to be “under the influence” if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the legal limit of .08 percent or if police officers believe they cannot safely navigate the vessel. Drugs and alcohol can impair an operator’s ability to navigate safely, identify other vessels in the water, and react in time-sensitive situations.
Impaired boating operators are more likely to cause boating accidents than sober operators. In fact, boating under the influence is the leading cause of fatal boat accidents in the country.
3. Inexperienced Operators
Anyone who wants to operate a motorboat with at least 10 horsepower in Florida must meet certain minimum requirements. Specifically, you must pass a state-approved boating safety course and secure a Boating Safety and Education Identification Care from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
However, just because someone satisfies these minimum requirements does not mean that they are experienced operators. They may not know how to navigate a boat through difficult waters or even fully understand the laws and customs of the sea. This can make the waters incredibly dangerous and increase the risk of an accident. Unfortunately, operator inexperience is cited as the third leading cause of boating accident in the United States.
4. Crowded Waterways
Miami is an incredibly popular place to enjoy time out on the water. In fact, there are more registered boats in Miami than any other Florida county. Thanks to its great climate, boats can really be used at any time of the year. While this is great for the local economy, it can pose a serious threat to the safety of local boaters. The chances of an accident increase when there are so many boats on the water.
When the waterways are crowded, boats have less space to maneuver. This can be dangerous if there is a sudden change in the weather or currents. Accidents are also more likely to involve multiple vessels when the water is crowded.
5. Defective Boating Equipment
Sometimes a boating operator isn’t to blame for an accident. Instead, defective vessels, boating equipment, or safety devices can contribute to or cause an accident. When this happens, the company that designed, manufactured, and/or sold the defective equipment can be held strictly liable for any injuries that result.
6. Poor Weather Conditions
Miami typically has great weather. In fact, the weather conditions are often perfect for the ideal boating excursion. However, it’s important for boating operators to be prepared for any sudden changes in the weather. An unexpected storm or surge could significantly alter plans while at sea. Boating accidents are more likely to happen when operators aren’t able to navigate their vessel in adverse weather conditions. This could be due to inexperience or the sheer power of sudden weather patterns.
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Have you or someone you love been injured in a boating accident? Do you want to learn more about how you can recover compensation? Our Miami personal injury lawyers can help. Call Lavent Law to schedule a free consultation with our legal team today.