Recent Florida Boat Accidents Put Spotlight on Boating Safety

March 17, 2009

Several recent Florida boat accidents have highlighted the need for boating safety.  Four friends, two of them NFL football players, were stranded in the Gulf of Mexico in 7 foot seas when their 21 foot open fisherman overturned.  Only of the men, Nick Schuyler, was eventually rescued from the boat after spending close to three days clinging to the hull of the boat. 

Meanwhile, in a boat accident on Florida‘s Lake Okeechobee, a suspected mechanical error caused a boat to travel in circles at approximately 25-30 miles per hour, throwing the driver and two young passengers into the water.  The driver and one of the young girls were killed in the accident.

Unfortunately, boating accidents such as these occur too frequently in Florida.  Florida has more registered boat owners than any other state, and consequently leads the United States in the number of boating accidents and boating fatalities.  However, many of these accidents could be prevented with simple safety precautions.

For instance, boaters that find themselves adrift at sea could rely on their EPIRB, or Emergency Position Indicating Radiobeacons, a device that transmits a digital signal on the international distress signal frequency and are detectable by satellites monitored by the Coast Guard.  Had the boat that was carrying the NFL players been equipped with an EPIRB, they most likely would have been found alive and healthy.  Much simpler safety precautions such as the use of life preservers and throwable flotation devices, boat safety lights, and adequate training on the use and operation of a boat would also save many lives.

South Florida Boat Accident Attorney Joseph M. Maus says the majority of injury and boating death cases he handles could have been prevented had the operator of the boat used adequate safety precautions.  “Something as simple as a life preserver on a child will make all the difference in the event of a boat accident”, Maus says.  His office reviews a large number of boating accidents in Florida, and usually the cause is related to operator inexperience.  “People think they can hop in a boat and it is going to operate just like their car”, Maus says.  However, boats have much different handling characteristics than a car, and a boat operator has to deal with wind, the current, and waves.

Maus also sees many accidents involving the use of boat rentals and personal water craft rentals.  Boat rental and personal water craft rental operators are required to provide adequate training and safety gear to renters, but this does not always happen.  Maus says before renting a boat or personal water craft (jetski), make sure:

  • The rental facility provides pre-rental and pre-ride instruction on the safe operation of the vessel;
  • The instruction must include at a minimum, operational characteristics of the vessel, safe operation and right of way instructions, operator responsibilities, and local waterway characteristics;
  • The person providing the instruction has completed a state approved boating safety course.

If you are just going out on a boat with a friend or acquaintance, make sure the vessel is equipped with safety equipment required by the U.S. Coast Guard, such as life jackets or PFD’s (personal flotation devices) which are appropriate for your or your child’s physical size, fire extinguishers, horns, and navigational lights.  Failure by a boat rental facility, or the operator of a boat to follow these safety precautions can put you and your loved ones in great danger.

Many Florida boat accident injuries and deaths can be prevented.  If you or someone you know has been injured in a boat accident in Florida, contact Florida boat accidents lawyer Joseph M. Maus to investigate whether appropriate safety precautions were taken.  Mr. Maus offers a free consultation to evaluate your claim, or log on to http://www.jmmlawyers.com to get answers to your questions.  Mr. Maus is a Florida Boat Accident specialist who handles claims statewide.  He can be reached toll-free at (866) 556-5529 or you can email him today.


One comment

  1. Boaters should do the required sound signals during restricted visibility, this will also help in the reduction of boat accidents.

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