Florida law has strict rules for boating safety, including requirements relating to safety gear. For example, Florida Statute 327.39 mandates that each person who is riding on a vessel should be wearing a personal flotation device. Personal flotation devices must be U.S. Coast Guard approved and in good, serviceable condition.

Personal flotation devices are just one of several different types of safety equipment that a boat operator must have aboard a boat. The specific requirements for safety equipment will vary depending upon the vessel, but other safety requirements can include onboard fire extinguishers, ventilation systems, navigation lights, and visual distress signals such as flares.

If a boat operator does not comply with safety rules and goes out on a boat without required safety equipment, the boater could be committing a misdemeanor criminal offense. The operator could also be civilly liable for an accident that results from a failure to provide safety equipment.

A boat operator can be held legally responsible for accidents that occur due to a safety equipment failure, such as a collision caused by not having navigation lights. If consequences of an accident are made worse due to a safety lapse, the boat operator may also be held accountable. For example, if a boat accident victim drowned because the victim had no life jacket available to him when a life jacket might have saved his life, the boat operator who failed to provide the life jacket could be liable for the drowning.

If you don’t have coverage, be sure to look into boat insurance for first-time boat owners

A Florida boat accident lawyer can provide assistance to victims and their families in pursuing a claim for compensation after boat accident injuries or death occurs due to a failure of a boat operator to have sufficient safety equipment aboard the boat.