Miami has a massive coastline with several rivers, lakes, and waterways. This makes it an ideal boating location, with Florida having over 900,000 registered vessels, and that’s not counting the thousands of unregistered ones. It, unfortunately, results in Miami leading the country in the number of boating accidents per year.
From owner negligence to lack of training and registration, Miami records roughly 700 boating accidents, 60 of them being fatal. This has created a long line of people who are seeking compensation for their mental anguish. It has no doubt increased the need for a competent Miami boating accident attorney.
Types of Boating Accidents
Being a city by the ocean, Miami has various seaworthy vessels that range from one-person vessels to shipping freighters. Here is a list of boating accidents that commonly occur in Miami:
- jet ski and personal craft accidents
- boat collisions
- rental and tour boat accidents
- yacht accidents
- commercial liner accidents
- dock and harbor accidents
- recreational boating accidents
These types of accidents are slowly growing due to the increasing number of unregistered vessels and operators in Miami. Among these, boat collisions are the leading causes of accidents.
The primary causes for most of these accidents lie on the vessel operator. Whether it’s the operator being under the influence or not being properly trained, these operators are generally the ones to be blamed for any boating accidents in Miami.
The main question on your mind must be, “Whose fault was this?” Well, the answer to that varies on a case-to-case basis, but the generally accepted factors that determine liability are all focused on the vessel’s operator. A vessel operator can be held liable if he or she:
- was operating a vessel/boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- was running the vessel in a reckless manner
- was not properly trained in commandeering the vessel
- was not a licensed operator
- was not following basic navigational and operational vessel guidelines
- was operating an unregistered vessel
These are actionable claims when the vessel operator is at fault. In the event of the accident caused by a malfunction in the vessel, you can claim damages from the vessel’s manufacturer.
What Determines Liability
Under Federal law, a boating accident must be reported by the vessel owner if:
- the accident leads to someone’s death
- the accident leads to someone’s disappearance
- the accident causes injury requiring medical treatment beyond first aid
- the accident caused property damage of more than $2000
- the accident caused the vessel to be destroyed
If the vessel owner has not reported the accident to the authorities, this could lead to an increased liability on the part of the vessel operator or owner. Other factors that determine the negligence of the vessel operator or boat owner are:
- if the person owed a duty of reasonable care towards the victim
- if the person breached that duty by way of recklessness or incompetence
- if the breach of duty was the primary cause of injury or death
- the injuries suffered by the victim constitute damages that should be compensated by the court
What Factors Affect My Claim
The compensation that is awarded to a victim differs based on the circumstances of a case. However, certain factors may influence the final amount you receive, such as:
- the cost of medical care you need for the injuries you sustained
- the value of any property you owned that was damaged or lost as a result of the accident
- the cost of loss of income or lost wages if the accident caused an injury so severe as to prevent you from working or getting gainful employment
- mental anguish and suffering caused in the event of severe or life-threatening injuries
The compensation for non-economic damages such as mental trauma and psychological suffering is generally only sought when the nature of the loss was severe enough to have reasonably caused such problems in the victim.
How to Move Forward
Boating accidents are not the same as on-road vehicle accidents. They have several complexities to them and are not as simple when it comes to compensation recovery. You need an experienced Miami boating accident attorney who has settled multiple compensation claims before.
Also, find lawyers experienced in maritime and admiralty laws as most boating accidents happen offshore. Miami and South Florida are especially well known for their vast regulations regarding operating a boat. An experienced maritime lawyer will increase your chances of getting a better claim.
So if you or anyone you know has been the victim of a boating accident, don’t hesitate and immediately seek legal representation.