In the State of Florida, there were 704 reportable boating accidents and 55 fatalities in 2012, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife. In total, 160 accidents happened when vessels collided and 148 collisions occurred when a boat operator struck a fixed object with his watercraft. That accounts for 44 percent of all boating accidents statewide.
Boating accidents had a number of causes. In 24 of the accidents in 2012, alcohol use was the primary cause of the incident. In 164 of the boating accidents over the course of 2015, machinery failure and carelessness were primary collision causes.
Florida Statute 327.30 sets forth the obligations of boat operators following accidents. Boat operators involved in collisions must render aid to those affected, offering as much assistance as possible without endangering their own vessel, crew or passengers. When accidents cause at least $2,000 in property damage or result in injury or death, notice of the accident must be made without delay to the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC). The commission may conduct investigations of reportable boating accidents.
Determining who is at fault and how the boating accident happened is important so victims of the accident may pursue a damage claim. Boat operators could be held accountable for boating accident losses if negligence caused or contributed to injuries in the accident. Negligence can range from failure to have sufficient lifejackets on board the vessel, to choosing to take a boat out in adverse weather, to operating the boat while impaired. If a claim is made for compensation following a boating accident, victims pursuing damages will need to prove the boat operator was to blame.