Last year in Florida, there were
600 reported boating accidents and 59 boating deaths. While this is an 18% decrease from 2017, it’s
still far too many. According to the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FYC), the majority of fatal accidents involved
people falling overboard and drowning, and 30% of accidents involved collisions between vessels.
With the proper precautions and safety equipment, you can avoid becoming
The #1 Rule
If you want to avoid a boating accident, the most important rule is to
always boat sober. In 2018, the FYC gave out 536 alcohol and drug violations and 18% of
fatalities were related to drug and alcohol use. Making a commitment to
never drink and operate a boat is easy, and it can save lives. Staying
sober can also mitigate your risk of drowning.
To prevent drowning accidents, keep as many life jackets onboard as passengers.
If someone or your boat is not a strong swimmer, or if they have been
drinking, encourage them to use a life jacket. According to the Coast
Guard, 70% of boat-related fatalities occur from drowning and 84% of people
who drown do so without a life vest. It’s also a good idea to have
a fire extinguisher, boat lights, and an anchor on board in case of emergency.
Just like driving, boating requires you to maintain a safe speed and follow
all boating and navigation rules. There are as many “rules of the
water” as there are rules of the road. It’s also important
to pay attention to your surroundings and scout out possible hazards.
Although Florida does not require a boating license, the FWC recommends taking
a Boating Safety Course before getting “behind the wheel” of an aquatic vessel.
Because there is no way to “pave,” a body of water, you should
be especially vigilant about weather and water conditions while boating.
A storm can quickly make water conditions unsafe, and any number of factors
can create dangerous situations. Check water and weather conditions before
you embark, and if you notice inclement weather, return to the shore as
soon as possible.
What to Do After a Boating Accident
If you get into a
boating accident that is not your fault, you will likely be able to hold the driver or owner of the boat liable
for your injuries. This is especially true if the driver was negligent
and failed to follow any of the above guidelines.
If you need help with a boating accident case, call
Paulsen Law Group at (727) 270-8260 and
set up a free consultation