Posts Tagged ‘florida boating accident’

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Florida Boating Accidents Can Be Avoided With A Boater’s Safety Course

February 12, 2010

The United States Coast Guard 2008 report on Florida boating accidents shows 616 accidents of which 50 accidents involved fatalities that killed 55 people. In addition, there were 371 non-fatal injuries and over $22 million dollars worth of damage due to boating accidents. 106 of these accidents involved collision with a fixed object, 20 from striking a submerged object, and 190 were due to collision with another vessel. 25 people were forcibly ejected from their boat and 45 people were injured falling overboard. Across the country, over two-thirds of boating fatalities were due to drowning and 90% of the drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.

The primary causes of the accidents, injuries and property damage are operator inattention, careless or reckless operation, no proper lookout, operator inexperience, and passenger or skier behavior. Many accidents also involve consumption of alcohol. In fact, alcohol was a leading contributing factor in 17% of the boating fatalities in 2008.

Effective January 1, 2010, Florida law now requires that persons born on or after January 1, 1988, complete a NASBLA-approved boater education course prior to operating a vessel powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or more (this includes personal water craft such as jet skis and wave runners). The law also requires that persons affected by this legislation have in their possession a boater safety identification card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and photographic ID while operating a vessel. Florida does not have a "boating license."  The Boating Safety Education Identification Card is proof of successful completion of the educational requirements and is valid for life.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission offers several ways to take an online boater’s safety course. They also offer on-site classes and correspondence courses so boaters can complete requirements as conveniently as possible.

For personal safety, everyone onboard your vessel should be wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). Florida law requires that:

  • The owner and/or operator of a vessel is responsible to carry, store, maintain and use the safety equipment required by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).
  • All vessels are required to have onboard a wearable USCG-approved personal flotation device (PFD) for each person.  The PFDs must be of the appropriate size for the intended wearer, be in serviceable condition, and within easy access.  The State of Florida urges all people onboard a boat to wear a life jacket.
  • Vessels 16 feet in length or longer must also have at least one USCG-approved throwable Type IV PFD that is immediately available in case of a fall overboard.
  • A child under the age of 6 must wear a USCG-approved Type I, II or III personal flotation device while onboard a vessel under 26 feet in length while the vessel is under way.  "Under way" is defined as anytime except when the vessel is anchored, moored, made fast to the shore or aground.

Florida boating accidents can in the blink of an eye and for numerous reasons: you can slip and fall overboard slipping on the deck or from inattention, drinking on the boat can contribute to a fall overboard, bad weather can contribute, and being hit by another boat can cause a fall overboard. In most instances, the passenger either does not have enough time to grab a life jacket before falling overboard or is unconscious and unable to put on a life jacket, so it is important for all boating passengers to wear a PFD at all times.

Florida boating accident lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, has operated boats throughout South Florida, the Bahamas and Florida Keys for over 30 years.  If you or a loved one have been involved in Florida boating accidents, get advice from the experienced Florida boating accident lawyers at the Law Office of Joseph M. Maus, to determine your rights.  For a free, no obligation consultation, call Toll Free 866-556-5529 or log onto http://www.mauslawfirm.com today.

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Life Jackets Save Lives In Florida Boat Accidents

December 1, 2009

If they were polled, most boaters and their passengers would tell you that life jackets weren’t really a necessity. After all, the majority of drownings happen way out at sea, not when people are just leisurely motoring down the canals and waterways around the state, right? Wrong! According to the Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers Association, "nine out of ten drownings occur in inland waters, most within a few feet of safety, and involving boats less than 20 feet long. Most drowning victims had access to a Personal Flotation Device, but did not wear it". Still think you don’t need to wear a life jacket while boating on the Florida waterways? Consider this: 85% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket.

If you haven’t taken a look at Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) lately, you’ll probably be surprise to know that they are no longer the bulky orange life vests from a decade ago. While they are still brightly colored so a rescuer can more easily spot a person floating in the water, they come in much more attractive colors than orange! Also, boaters will be happy to know that the newer PFDs are lighter weight and much more comfortable to move around in while you are wearing them.

The Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers Associations says most adults need 7 to 12 pounds of bouyancy to keep their heads above water. They’ll tell you that how much ‘extra lift’ you need in water is determined by body fat and weight, lung size, clothing and water conditions (rough or calm). In general, the more physically fit you are, the more ‘lift’ you need. Many states have specific regulations regarding the type of lifejacket children must wear, so make sure you are aware of the requirements in your state before selecting a product for your child.

There are several categories of PFDs, so be sure to check the bouyancy rating when choosing a new PFD. There are jackets that have been designed for use in inland waters and those that are rated for offshore use where sea conditions can hamper a rescue. Each category has certain features that will help keep you alive, depending on the calmness of the water or the length of time that might be required for rescue if you are involved in a Florida boat accident, so it is important to choose the correct type. Some jackets will even turn an unconscious, face-down victim over in the water so they can breathe!

It is a federal law that each boat have one life jacket for each person on the boat. That means if you are planning to carry guests on board, you’ll need to be sure to carry spare PFDs.

The Coast Guard requires that:

  1. Each PFD on your boat be in good condition, be the proper size for the intended wearer, and very importantly, be readily accessible;
  2. Readily accessible means you must be able to put the PFD on in a reasonable amount of time in an emergency (vessel sinking, on fire, etc.);
  3. PFD’s should not be stowed in plastic bags or in locked or closed compartments, and they should not have other gear stowed on top of them;
  4. Vessels 16 feet in length or longer must have one Type IV USCG-approved PFD on board and immediately available (a type IV PFD is one that can be thrown to a person in the water);
  5. Children under 6 years of age must wear a USCG-approved Type I, II, or III PFD at all times while on any vessel less than 26 feet in length that is underway upon Florida waters;
  6. Each person on board a Personal Water Craft (PWC), and anyone being towed behind a vessel, must wear a USCG-approved PFD. Inflatable PFDs are not to be worn on PWC’s or while water-skiing. 

Keep in mind, too, that Florida boat accidents can happen for any number of reasons: you can slip and fall overboard just from innattention or slipping on the deck, drinking on the boat can contribute to a fall overboard, bad weather can contribute, and being hit by another boat can cause a fall overboard. In most instances, the passenger either does not have enough time to grab a life jacket before falling overboard or is unconscious and unable to put on a life jacket, so it is important for all boating passengers to wear a PFD at all times.

The majority of us get into our cars and automatically fasten the seat belt – putting on a life jacket when stepping onto a boat should be just as automatic. Unfortunately, it’s not. In fact, more than 85% of all fatalities in Florida boat accidents are due to drowning, and the majority of those deaths could have been prevented if the victim was wearing a life jacket

For more information about claims for injuries suffered in a boat accident in Florida, contact Florida boating accident lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 for a free, no-obligation consultation, or email him today.

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Florida Boating Accidents and Deaths on the Rise

September 12, 2009

The United States Coast Guard recently released its study on boating accident which occurred in 2008.  Unfortunately, the study indicates deaths occurring in boating accidents are on the rise.  The Coast Guard reported that boating fatalities increased from 5.3 per 100,000 registered recreational boaters to 5.6 in 2008.  The Coast Guard recorded a total of 709 boating deaths in 2008, 3,331 boating injuries, approximately 54 million dollars in damage to property, all arising out of 4,789 boating accidents.  The primary causes of the accidents, injuries and property damage are operator inattention, careless or reckless operation, no proper lookout, operator inexperience, and passenger or skier behavior. 

Florida boat accident attorney Joseph M. Maus also points out that many of the accidents involve alcohol consumption.  The Coast Guard’s report indicates that alcohol consumption was listed as the leading contributing factor in 17% of the boating wrongful deaths that occurred in 2008.   

The number of recent Florida boating accidents did improve in one category relating to those boating accidents caused by alcohol use.  In 2007, Florida had more alcohol related boating accidents, and alcohol related boating wrongful deaths, than any other state.  But, California now carries the banner for 2008 as the state having the most alcohol related boating accidents and boating wrongful deaths. 

Simple precautionary measures can be taken to drastically reduce the likelihood of Florida boating accidents, injury or boating wrongful death, say Attorney Maus.  For starters, over 2/3 of the boating accident wrongful death victims drowned. Of those victims, 90% were not wearing a life jacket.  Boating accidents occur very suddenly and usually do not give the driver or passengers time to react.  The simple use of Personal Flotation Device (PFD) could be the difference between life and death during a boating accident.   

Most states, including Florida, offer boat owners and operators a boating safety course.  However, very few boat operators take advantage of these classes.  Only 10% of the boating wrongful deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received a boating safety instruction course. 

There are many factors which contribute to serious boating accidents in Florida.  These include the items mentioned above such as wearing a PFD, and attending a boating safety course.  However, in order to fully investigate the cause of Florida boating accidents or injuries, you need to consider the location of the accident, navigational markers and rules governing the area, the tides, wind, time of day, type of boats involved in the accident, and many other factors. 

Florida boating accident lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, has operated boats throughout South Florida, the Bahamas and Florida Keys for over 30 years.  If you or a loved one have been involved in any serious Florida boating accidents, get advice from the experienced Florida boating accident lawyers at the Law Office of Joseph M. Maus, to determine your rights.  For a free, no obligation consultation, call Toll Free 866-556-5529 or log onto http://www.mauslawfirm.com today.

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Several Factors To Blame In Florida Boat Accidents

May 14, 2009

A 74 year old man was hospitalized in critical condition after his 60 foot yacht caught fire near West Palm Beach. A couple were found dead in the engine room after accidentally tripping the fire extinguishing system, depriving the room of oxygen. A 7 year old child is left in a coma after a nighttime collision between a 30 foot boat and a small bass fishing boat. Because of horrific Florida boat accidents like these, Florida leads the nation in dangers posed to local boating enthusiasts.

Every year, millions of locals and tourists alike bask in Florida’s famed sun while partaking in variety of outdoor activities. With more than one million registered vessels, boating is an increasingly popular method of outdoor recreation. However, with great fun comes great responsibility. Florida boaters reported 5,191 accidents in 2007, resulting in 685 tragic deaths (including 16 children under age 12). Most commonly, these catastrophes are a result of alcohol, careless operators, drug use, and excessive speed. Florida boat accidents come in a variety of forms, but the most frequent (and the most deadly) are collisions between vessels, collisions between fixed objects, capsizing, and falls overboard.

In as many as 80% of all boating deaths, the driver of the boat involved had not completed a boating safety education course. Though life preservers may seem like common sense, more than 80% of people who died in Florida boat accidents failed to use a floatation device.

Boaters who are involved in accidents are well advised to seek an attorney to help navigate the complex legal issues that may result. Depending on where your boat accident occurs in Florida, you may be subject to Florida laws, federal laws, or both. There are also a variety of navigational laws and engineering issues that come into play.

For more information about boat accidents in Florida, contact Florida boating accident lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 for a free, no-obligation consultation, or email him today.

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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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Tragic St. Johns, Florida, Boating Accidents Highlights Dangers Of Boating

April 14, 2009

A tragic accident on the St. Johns River near Jacksonville, Fl occurred late afternoon on April 12, 2009, killing 5 people and injuring 9 others onboard the boat.  The accident happened when a 22 foot Crownline crashed into the rear starboard of a 25 foot “push tug” tied to a pier approximately one mile north of the Palm Valley Bridge, an area known as the “Ditch”.  Both the National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) are investigating the cause of the crash.

This tragic accident highlights the dangers involved in boating.  Florida leads the Nation in boating fatalities according to statistics compiled by the FWC.  The leading causes of boating accidents in Florida are: 

1.  Operator inattention;
2.  No proper look-out;
3.  Excessive speed;
4.  Operator inexperience;
5.  Careless/reckless operation;
6.  Machinery failure; and
7.  Alcohol use.

Initial reports confirm that operator inattention, no proper look-out, and operator inexperience may possibly have played a part in the St. John’s accident.  Jacksonville News.com has reported witnesses as saying the owner of the boat was not operating it at the time of the accident.  The accident occurred on a straight stretch of the Intracoastal waterway, and is believed to have occurred prior to sunset.  Investigators are also trying to determine whether alcohol consumption may have contributed to the accident as the boaters had previously been at a St. Augustine bar earlier in the day.

Additionally, the number of passengers in the boat may have played a part in the accident.  It is reported that the boat was carrying 14 people, which is more than Crownline’s website has the boat rated.  Florida Boating Accidents Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, says a 22 foot boat carrying 14 people, would be difficult to control even for an experienced operator, especially when the boat is on a plane (traveling at speed).   Maus has owned and operated boats in Florida ranging from 12 to 45 feet over the last 30 years.  “A 22 foot inboard/outboard, loaded down with 14 people, is going to perform significantly different than it would normally perform with a lighter load.  The boat will be more difficult to steer, balance, and slow down.  Something as simple as a shift to one side of the boat by several of the passengers could contribute to loss of control of the boat.”  Maus specializes in representing persons seriously injured in Florida boating accidents, and has published articles on the dangers of boating in Florida.

Standard power for the Crownline 22 is the MerCruiser 5.0L engine with an Alpha outdrive rated at 220 hp.  With this powerplant, the boat planes in 3.9 seconds and tops out at 51 to 54 mph at 5000 rpm.  More information and specifications on the boat can be found at http://www.buildaboat.crownline.com/whatsnew/magazines/lakelandboating/216ls.php.

Maus says that a combination of factors could have contributed to the cause of the accident, beginning with the number of people, and the weight of the people,  in the boat.  “NTSB and FWC will conduct a comprehensive investigation of the accident to determine the factors which contributed to causing the accident”, Maus says.  Because of the number of boats on Florida’s waterways, Florida boating accidents are inevitably going to happen.  However, simple steps can be taken to minimize the likelihood of serious injury and death in Florida boating accidents:

1.  Always wear a PFD (personal flotation device);
2.  Take a boater safe operation course before getting behind the helm of a boat;
3.  Don’t overload a boat with passengers or gear;
4.  Familiarize yourself with navigational markers, and channels, for safe navigation;
5.  Never operate a boat under the influence of alcoholic beverages.

For more information about boating accidents in Florida, contact Florida boating accident lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, log on to http://www.jmmlawyers.com, or email him today.

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Florida Boating Accidents – Boating Under the Influence

March 27, 2009

We all know it’s wrong to drink and drive on the road, but when you are out on your boat on a lazy weekend afternoon and you pop open a cold one as you are motoring along, do you put yourself into the same category as a motor vehicle driver who has been drinking? If you don’t, you should, because operating a boat while drinking falls under similar laws and restrictions as drinking and driving an automobile.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says:

  • It is a violation of Florida law to operate a vessel while impaired by alcohol or other drugs.  A vessel operator suspected of boating under the influence must submit to sobriety tests and a physical or chemical test to determine blood- or breath-alcohol content.
  • In Florida, a vessel operator is presumed to be under the influence if their blood- or breath-alcohol level is at or above .08.
  • Any person under 21 years of age who is found to have a breath-alcohol level of .02 or higher and operates or is in actual physical control of a vessel is in violation of Florida law.

There is a good reason for the stiff BUI laws. According to the boatingundertheinfluence.org website, boaters who operate a vessel with a blood alcohol level of over .10% are 10 times more likely to die in a boating accident than a sober boater. Also, BUI is the leading cause of fatal Florida boating accidents.

If you are charged with a BUI, you’ll be subject to the same penalties a DUI carries:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Probation
  • It’s a felony if you cause property damage, injury, or death while boating under the influence.

Also remember that medications you may be taking, the sun and wind, and the motion of the boat can make the effects of your drink more pronounced, so you can feel and act more inebriated more quickly than you might think. And, don’t forget the divers that may be in the water around you – many divers are hurt annually in Florida boating accidents by impaired boaters. If you are boating while drinking, you’ve also lowered the chances of noticing those dive flags.

The summer is coming up and more and more boaters will be taking to the waters around Florida. Boating accidents are going to increase as the waterways become more congested. Don’t run the risk of becoming a statistic: leave the alcohol at home!

If you’ve or a loved one has been injured in Florida boating accidents, contact Florida boating accident lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 for a free, no-obligation consultation, or email him today.

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