Attorney - South Florida Boating Accidents

South Florida Boating Accidents – Spring Break 2017

south florida boating accidentsSouth Florida has been one of the major locations for recreational boating for decades. There is some debate about who actually coined the phrase “Venice of America” for Fort Lauderdale, but with 165 miles of waterway, it certainly is appropriate.

Boating is a year-round passion in Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties, with a combined 165,000 recreational vessels registered. When Spring Break rolls around, that’s usually one of the busiest times for traffic offshore and on the inland waterways. Not unexpectedly, accidents increase.

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Florida Boating Accidents

More Florida Boats Means More Boating Accidents

Who Can Help When Someone is hurt in a Florida Boating Accident?

The dictionary defines boating as “the use of boats, especially for pleasure,” and certainly sailing out into the deep blue sea or motoring across a lake is both relaxing and fun. People sometimes drop their usual inert tendency to exercise caution when they are boating, and that’s when accidents happen.

Boating has increased in popularity across the country and especially in Florida, the number one ranked state for number of boat registrations. As the number of boats grows and the waterways become more congested, the number of accidents and injuries climbs as well.

The most recent full-year report available for Florida covers 2014 –  in summary:

Even though the state’s 634 reportable accidents were fewer than the total of 734 in 2013, and injuries were down from 420 to 365, fatalities increased from 62 to 73. The top 10 counties in Florida with the most accidents per 100 boats registered were:

1 – Miami-Dade

2 – Monroe (the Keys)

3 – Pinellas

4 – Palm Beach

5 – Lee

6 – Broward

7 – Collier

8 – Volusia

9 – Brevard

10 – Okaloosa

Boating Accident Questions

So, what happens when there is a boat accident and someone is injured? Is it the same as a car accident? Is there liability and collision insurance? Who determines who is at fault? Can a regular accident attorney help?

Florida Boating AccidentsThese are all excellent questions, but the answers are not necessarily clear-cut. Boating accidents may be investigated by local police, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) or the U.S. Coast Guard, depending on the circumstances. Insurance for boating accidents is not the same as for automobiles. There are times when a passenger injured on a boat might be covered by their homeowner’s insurance, but they may not be covered.

Personal Watercraft (PWC) Accidents

Jet-skis, wave-runners, and other small and speedy watercraft are growing in popularity and unfortunately so are the accidents. Five people were killed in 2014 personal watercraft accidents, and dozens were injured. Persons operating personal watercraft may or may not carry insurance, so it is advisable to check before riding on one.

Boating Accident Answers

Different jurisdictions, different laws covering different types of watercraft, and insurance coverages that may have very wide gaps. The Florida Statutes covering “vessels” or all watercraft are mostly located in Chapters 326-328 but the laws are difficult for a non-lawyer to understand. It can be confusing!

The Right Attorney

The entire process covering boating accidents, liability, negligence, and even the possibility of criminal implications is a very specialized area of law that only a handful of attorneys in Florida have chosen as a special area for their practice. The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has been helping victims of Florida boating accidents for over 20 years and they are eminently qualified to investigate and then recommend the best course of action for anyone who reaches out to contact them at 954-356-0006.

edited by Carlok Bennuple

Reckless or Boozed-up Boating is as Dangerous and Deadly as Drunk Driving

Fort Lauderdale is known as the “Venice of America” because of the miles of inland waterways, but actually all of south Florida is bustling with thousands of boats. On weekends and holidays the normally tranquil waterways and canals become treacherous maritime raceways with frequent serious collisions and accidents.

One such accident occurred this past 4th-of-July which killed four people, then another during the Columbus Day holiday killed a 29-year-old woman. It’s not yet certain if alcohol contributed to these incidents, but nationally it is the number one cause of boating deaths cited by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2012:

Contributing Factor———————-Accidents———-Deaths———-Injuries Operator inattention——————————-581————-47————-359 Operator inexperience—————————-417————-51————-303 Improper lookout———————————–391————-13————–278 Machinery failure———————————–346————10————–115 Excessive speed———————————–310————-31————-288 Navigation rules violation————————290————13————–236 Alcohol use——————————————-280———– 109————-227 Force of wave/wake——————————-228————–06————-204 Weather————————————————221————–43————-103 Hazardous waters———————————-184————–57—————92
The Law Firm of Lazarus and Lazarus has been representing victims of boating accidents for over 20 years, and they are experts in the field of maritime law. If you or someone you know has been injured in a boating accident, contact the Fort Lauderdale attorneys who have a solid reputation protecting the rights of their clients by calling 954-356-0006

One Teen Killed, Another Injured in Redington Beach Boating Accident

866691_seattle_boating_2%20sxchu%20unplethr.jpgA Pinellas County boat crash has left one teenager dead and another injured. The two teens were involved in an accident while riding on an inner tube being pulled behind a 24-foot fishing boat at the Redington Yacht and Tennis Club. According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the driver of the boat, 15-year-old Brandon Noah, reportedly navigated the vessel too close to a dock. Although the boat did not strike the dock, the tube attached to the vessel did and the two teens riding on the inner tube were thrown into the air. Although one girl landed in the water, 15-year-old Deviny Boese flew into a piling on the dock. Following the accident, Noah reportedly pulled the girls from the water and administered CPR until rescue crews arrived. Boese was transported to St. Petersburg General Hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries. 16-year-old Sarah Dobbs was taken to All Children’s Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

A passenger on the boat, 15-year-old Noah Epstein reportedly took the boat to Noah’s home in order to notify his parents about the crash. According to law enforcement officers, the accident is still under investigation but appears to have been caused by boater inexperience. Noah was cited for misdemeanor reckless operation of a boat that resulted in a fatality and failure to have a boating safety identification card. The teens apparently did not have permission to use the boat when the accident occurred.

Although no license is required in order to operate a boat in Florida, anyone born in 1988 or later must obtain a boating safety identification card in order to operate a vessel with a 10 horsepower or larger engine. There are no age restrictions placed on boaters who wish to enroll in the boating safety course required to receive an identification card. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission about 27,000 boating safety cards were issued in the state last year. About 7,500 safety cards were issued to Florida residents aged 16 and under. At the time of the accident, Noah was reportedly driving a boat with 280 horsepower.

If your family member was killed in an unexpected Florida boating accident, you may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person who caused your loss. Generally, you have the option to file a lawsuit when a close relative’s wrongful death was caused by another person’s carelessness, recklessness, or negligence. In the State of Florida, relatives generally have up to two years to file a wrongful death claim unless the claim is against a cruise ship. The damages available to the relatives of someone killed on a cruise ship are subject to the terms of the passenger’s ticket.
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Retired Astronaut Killed in Pensacola Beach Jet-Ski Crash

361262_moonwalker%20sxchu%20username%20snnellis.jpgA retired astronaut who flew two space shuttle missions was recently killed in a tragic Pensacola Beach jet-ski accident. 51-year-old Alan Goodwin Poindexter died after the jet-ski he was riding on was struck by another personal watercraft in Little Sabine Bay. Poindexter was reportedly jet-skiing with two of his adult children when the accident happened. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the incident occurred after the jet-ski Poindexter was riding on with his son Samuel suddenly slowed. Another jet-ski driven by his son Zachary reportedly hit the back of Poindexter’s jet-ski at a high rate of speed.

The force of the deadly crash allegedly tossed both Poindexter and Samuel into the water. Friends reportedly pulled Poindexter onto a nearby boat and performed CPR until emergency responders arrived. The former NASA astronaut was then taken by emergency helicopter to Baptist Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The exact cause of the accident is currently under investigation by the Wildlife Commission.

Every year, many people in Florida are killed in unnecessary and avoidable boating accidents. Because our state it is a popular tourist and boating destination, people often spend a lot of time on the water in Florida. Whether on a lake or in the ocean, anyone using a boat or personal watercraft should always be careful to follow established safety rules and guidelines.

Losing a loved one in an unexpected watercraft accident like this one can be devastating. If your close relative was killed in a Florida boating accident that was caused by someone else’s carelessness, recklessness, or negligence, you may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person who caused your loss. Although no amount of money can bring back your family member, filing a wrongful death claim may help to relieve some of your financial burden and deter similar behavior in the future. Because the amount of time you have to file a wrongful death claim in Florida is limited, it is a good idea to contact a capable personal injury attorney as soon as possible following your loss.
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Nine Passengers Ejected, Three Injured in Florida After Vessel Hits Clearwater Rock Jetty

1155487_beach_jetty%20sxchu.jpgNine people were rescued by the United States Coast Guard in Clearwater Pass, Florida over Memorial Day weekend after a 21-foot pleasure boat hit a rock jetty. According to the Coast Guard, the vessel struck the jetty while traveling at about 20 miles per hour early Sunday morning. All nine passengers on the boat were reportedly thrown into the water by the force of the impact. Another boat notified the Coast Guard of the accident around 3 o’clock in the morning. Rescuers discovered all nine passengers stranded on the jetty.

A representative for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission stated three passengers were taken to Morton Plant Hospital and Largo Medical Center for injuries sustained in the southwest Florida boat accident. The remaining passengers were taken to Station Sand Key where the driver of the boat purportedly passed a field sobriety test. The driver of the vessel was later ticketed for failing to maintain a proper lookout. The watercraft sustained a large hole in the bottom as a result of the collision and was reportedly a total loss. The accident is currently under investigation by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission.

Luckily, no one involved in this particular crash sustained life-threatening injuries. Every year, however, many deaths in Florida stem from avoidable watercraft accidents. Because South Florida offers many wonderful boating spots, people tend to spend a great deal of time on the water. Due to the associated safety risks, all boaters should follow established safety guidelines and rules. Watercraft owners and drivers have a legal responsibility to protect themselves, their vessel, and their passengers.

If you lost a loved one in a Florida watercraft accident, you may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person who caused your loss. Normally, you may sue for a family member’s wrongful death following a fatal accident caused by someone else’s recklessness, carelessness, or negligence. In Florida, relatives generally have up to two years to file a wrongful death claim unless the claim is against a cruise ship.

If you lost a family member in a cruise ship accident, you may be limited to filing a lawsuit within one year of the accident based on the passenger ticket. If you have lost a loved one in a boating or other watercraft accident, you should contact an experienced South Florida wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case.
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Six Abandon Ship Due to Fire in Intracoastal Waterway Near Fort Lauderdale

347284_burning_boat%20sxchu.jpgRecently, a 30-foot boat caught fire and overturned in the Intracoastal Waterway near Fort Lauderdale. All six passengers, including three adults and three children aged 10, 12, and 14, abandoned ship as a result of the flames. A spokesperson for Fort Lauderdale Fire and Rescue, Matt Little, stated all of the passengers were able to swim to shore where they were pulled from the water by onlookers and emergency crews. Little also said no one was injured in the incident.

According to witness Linda Nair, smoke from the fire rose about 100 feet into the air and could be seen for miles. She said she was impressed by how quickly area firefighters extinguished the flames. It took firefighters approximately 15 minutes to put the blaze out. The cause of the flames is currently under investigation. The owner of the boat was not onboard at the time of the incident.

Luckily, no one was severely injured or killed in this particular accident. Still, a great many Florida deaths are the result of tragic and avoidable boating accidents. With so many great boating spots in South Florida, boaters often spend a great deal of time on the water. Because boating is such a popular form of recreation, it is vital for boaters of all ages to follow safety guidelines and rules. Boat operators have a responsibility to protect not only themselves and their vessel, but also their passengers. Losing someone you love in an unexpected watercraft accident can be devastating. It is often made even worse when your loss was preventable.

If you have lost a family member in a Florida boating accident, you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party at fault. Generally, you may sue for wrongful death following a deadly accident that resulted from someone else’s act of negligence, recklessness, or carelessness. In the State of Florida, relatives have up to two years to file a wrongful death claim unless your claim is against a Cruise Ship in which case you may be limited to filing a lawsuit within one year based on the passenger ticket. If you have lost a family member due to another person’s negligence, you should contact a capable South Florida personal injury lawyer to discuss your case.
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Two Separate High-Speed Boating Accidents Kill Three in Tavares During Spring Thunder Regatta

548715_boat_wake__4%20sxchu.jpgLast weekend, two fatal boating accidents took place on Lake Dora during the Tavares community’s annual Spring Thunder Regatta. On Saturday, 53-year-old Mark Van Winkle of Stuart was killed when he was thrown from his vessel and struck in the water by another boat. On Sunday, 64-year-old Charles Woodruff of Jensen Beach and 73-year-old Dea Wiseley of Sun City Center died after they were involved in a high-speed crash. Woodruff was a former raceboat champion and Wiseley was also well known in the raceboat show circuit.

The deaths were the first in the regatta’s six-year history. The annual event, sponsored by the Classic Race Boat Association, marks the Tavares community’s annual kick-off to the boating season and showcases vintage racing boats traveling at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. Drivers are not on the water to race their boats, however. Each year, the regatta generally draws about 10,000 spectators.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Woodruff’s boat ran over Wiseley’s boat on Sunday and both men were killed after being thrown into the water. On Saturday, an occupant riding in Van Winkle’s boat was also ejected but she was safely rescued. The cause of both fatal accidents is still under investigation. Despite the perfect weather on Sunday, the weekend boating tragedies reportedly cast a pall over the community.

Each year, many deaths in Florida are the result of a tragic and unnecessary accident. Losing a loved one unexpectedly can be devastating, but it can be particularly distressing when your loss is the result of another person’s negligence. If you lost a family member due to someone else’s negligent actions, you have may the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Generally, a deadly accident which results from an act of negligence, recklessness, or carelessness will give rise to a wrongful death claim. In Florida, family members of someone killed in an accident normally have up to two years to sue for wrongful death. Clearly, no amount of compensation can make up for the loss of your loved one, but filing a wrongful death claim may allow you to hold the liable party accountable for their actions. If you have lost a family member due to someone else’s actions, it is a good idea to contact a qualified personal injury attorney to discuss your options.
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Family of Sarasota Man Poised to File Suit Over Key West Speedboat Death

122834_speed_boat_on_lake%20sxchu%20wesbite.jpgThe family of a Sarasota offshore speedboat racer killed during the Super Boat International World Championships in Key West last November is poised to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Super Boat International Productions, Inc. 59-year-old Joey Gratton purportedly drowned after his boat flipped over twice during a Key West race. His family claims Gratton survived the crash, but drowned due to a poor emergency response on the part of race organizers. Gratton’s death followed closely behind that of two Missouri men killed two days earlier when their boat crashed on the first day of racing.

Gratton was an experienced speedboat racer who, together with a close friend, won three world championships and eight national championships over the course of several years. According to reports, Gratton was not severely injured in the crash, but was instead alive, conscious, and fighting for several minutes to extricate himself from restraints. He is alleged to have drowned while waiting to be assisted by rescue boats. Instead of deploying immediately, rescue divers on an emergency helicopter were purportedly told by race organizers to act as second responders. The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner has stated Gratton’s official cause of death was drowning.

According to the Gratton’s attorney, the family will file a wrongful death lawsuit alleging gross negligence in Super Boat International’s safety and rescue response. He has stated race day rescue boat staff was not competently or adequately trained to act as first responders. He also claims divers were improperly told to allow rescue boats to act first, which wasted valuable response time. The family’s attorney claims Gratton would be alive today but for the company’s negligence. Gratton’s family has stated their overall goal in filing a lawsuit is to change Super Boat International’s emergency response measures to ensure the safety of other speedboat racers.

Many deaths in Florida each year are the result of tragic and unnecessary accidents. The unexpected loss of a loved one can be devastating, but it can be particularly upsetting when your loss is the result of another person’s negligence. When someone you love has been killed as a result of someone else’s actions, you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party at fault. Generally, a fatal accident which is the result of an act of negligence, carelessness, or recklessness will give rise to a wrongful death claim. In Florida, family members have up to two years to sue for wrongful death. If you have lost a family member due to a third party’s negligence, an experienced personal injury lawyer can answer your questions and help you file a wrongful death claim.
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Boating Safety Tips to Enjoy the 4th of July Weekend

8554914-colorful-fireworks-over-lake.jpg

The 4th of July weekend is one of the highlights of the summer: barbecues, the beach and friends and family. It’s also one of the biggest weekends for boating. With so many great spots and sandbars in South Florida, boaters and their friends will be spending most of their time on the water. That means more traffic, more drinking and a greater chance of a boating accident.

Boaters have a lot of responsibilities when it comes to boating accidents: not only to themselves and to their vessel, but also to their passengers. According to a report by the US Coast Guard, there were 4,064 recreational boating accidents last year, resulting in 672 deaths, 3,153 injuries and $35.5 million in property damage. Alcohol use was the leading cause of deaths from a boating accident.

With this in mind, it’s important that passengers know how to enjoy their voyage safely. Here are a few tips for passengers to follow to help prevent boating accidents this weekend:

• Pay attention to any safety instructions that the driver/operator provides
• Wear a life preserver and make sure that your children wear one as well • Avoid excessive drinking while at sea • Follow any posted precautionary rules and speed limits • Take added precautions when boating at night • Do not operate a boat if you have been drinking and/or if you don’t have prior experience • Avoid heavy traffic areas and spots known for heavy partying/drinking • If you have been involved in a boating accident, seek medical attention immediately
We hope that you enjoy a safe and fun-filled 4th of July weekend.