Boating is a major pastime in the Sunshine State, and for good reason. What better way to enjoy all that Florida has to offer than out on a boat? Whether a catamaran, fishing vessel, jet ski, or kayak, these water vessels offer a wonderful way to enjoy an afternoon — and those who visit and live in Florida clearly agree. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reports that as of 2020 Florida led the nation for boating with over 985,000 registered vessels within the state.
Although enjoyable, if precautions are not taken a fun day out on the water can quickly turn tragic.
What were the most common types of boating accidents in Florida in 2020?
The FWC reports that there were 79 fatalities and 534 injuries connected to vessel accidents in 2020. The most common type of accident involved one vessel colliding with another. Towed water sports, like tubing and water skiing, were responsible for 23 accidents and 9 fatalities while human powered crafts like kayaks and paddle boards were responsible for 14 fatalities.
What is the state doing to reduce the risk of watercraft accidents?
Florida authorities analyze watercraft accident data at the end of each calendar year. They then use this data to help formulate plans to address any issues that may contribute to these accidents. These plans have included increased education and enforcement efforts. The state tasks the FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement with enforcing boating safety laws, leading education efforts, and conducting investigations in the event of an accident.
Florida state law also has strict reporting requirements. The state requires the operator of the vessel involved in an accident to provide aid and, if the accident causes at least $2,000 in damage, injury, death, or disappearance of another, report the incident to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the local sheriff, or the local police chief. These requirements serve two goals. First, to help better ensure those who operate watercraft do so carefully and are held accountable for any errors in judgement that result in an accident. Second, to help better ensure any who need assistance get the help they need.
What if I am injured in a boating accident?
Victims have options. There are both criminal penalties and civil penalties to punish those who cause these accidents through reckless or neglect actions and help make the victims whole after the accident. This can result in funds to help cover the cost of emergency treatment, medical bills, rehabilitative expenses, property repairs and even lost wages. An attorney experienced in this niche area of the law can review the accident and discuss your options.