In Florida, there were 870 total boating accidents and 59 total boating fatalities in 2012, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. A total of 477 of the boating accidents and 42 of the fatalities occurred in incidents involving boat operators with no formal education. Regardless of education or training, every boat operator is bound by law to avoid reckless or careless operation of a vessel.
Florida Statute 373.33 makes reckless or careless operation of a boat a criminal offense. The crime is a misdemeanor if the vessel operator acted with willful or wanton disregard for safety or operated a boat in a speed or manner likely to endanger life, limb or property.
If a boat operator acts with reckless disregard or engages in careless operation of a vessel, the boat operator could also become liable for the consequences of any accidents his negligence causes.
Victims, or surviving family members of fatal boat accidents, would be able to obtain compensation for boat accident losses if they could prove the incident occurred as a direct result of reckless or careless operation. Victims could file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit to obtain monetary compensation for economic and compensatory damages occurring as a result of careless boating.
There are many behaviors which could result in boat accidents and give rise to boat injury claims. Examples of careless operation could include excessive speed; boating in restricted areas; failure to yield; boat racing; distracted boating; drunken boating; and other actions which are below the standard of care that a reasonably cautious and prudent boater would exercise.
A Florida boating accident lawyer can provide assistance to victims of boat accidents in determining if the boat operator can be liable for losses based on causing a boat accident through careless operation.