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Jacksonville, Florida Boat Accident Still Being Investigated

April 30, 2009

Investigators from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) continue to examine critical evidence to determine the cause of a Palm Valley Intracoastal Florida boat accident that left five people dead, and injured nine others.  Although the use of alcoholic beverages was previously suspected as a possible contributing factor to the accident, it has been ruled out as the primary cause of the accident.  A spokesperson for the FWC has said that the presumed driver of the boat had a blood alcohol level (BAC) below the legal limit of .08.

Many people have speculated that the number of people on the boat contributed to the accident.  The boat involved, a 21 foot Crownline, is not a large enough boat to safely accommodate 14 adults, according to Crownline’s website which says a similar boat is rated for 9 people and/or 1400 pounds.  Depending on the weight of the passengers, the boat in the accident could have been overloaded by as much as another 1000 pounds.  This would affect the handling and performance of the boat severely.

Florida Boat Accident Attorney Joseph M. Maus says a combination of factors could have led to the accident.  “For starters, loading down a 21 foot boat with 14 people is asking for trouble” Maus says.  Maus has 30 years experience operating boats ranging in size from 12 feet to 46 feet throughout South Florida, the Keys and Bahamas.  He specializes in bringing claims on behalf of people injured in Florida boating accidents from his Pompano Beach office.

Maus also says operator inexperience could have been a factor.  In fact, statistics have shown that operator inexperience is one of the major causes of Florida boat accidents.  One study showed that over 80% of all boating deaths occur on boats where the driver has not completed a boating safety education course.  In addition to operator inexperience, failing to wear a personal flotation device (PFD), also known as a life preserver, is one of the leading causes of boating deaths in Florida.  In Florida boat accident drowning deaths, more than 80% occurred when a person was not wearing a PFD.

“People think that because they can drive a car, they will have no problem operating a boat” Maus says.  “But the operating characteristics of a boat are so different; the navigational laws are different; the winds, tides, and other boat traffic all contribute to how and where a boat can be safely operated” according to Maus.

The activities associated with boating in Florida can also increase the likelihood of accidents. Boating activities range from cruising, water sports, diving, fishing, sailing, power boating such as Poker Runs, and many others.  All of these activities carry with them various safety regulations which can be easily overlooked when rushing to start the day’s events.  Depending on where the accident occurred, the activity that was taking place, and how the accident occurred, it can also be confusing as to where a claim can be brought for Florida boat accident injuries and deaths.

If you know someone that has been injured in a boating accident it is best to contact an experienced Florida boat accident lawyer to evaluate whether a claim exists.  Attorney Joseph M. Maus is a Florida native specializing in serious injury claims since 1993.  He is available for a free consultation at (866) 556-5529 or log on to http://www.jmmlawyers.com.

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