Seasonal Visitors and Residents Mean More Danger on the Water

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It’s that time of year again when the seasonal influx of snowbirds and tourists ramp up on our area roadways. And the same holds true for our local waters, too, as many more boaters are here to take advantage of some of the best boating in the entire country.

A major part of the allure of living here is the ability to keep your boat just outside your back door, especially in places like Cape Coral, with hundreds of miles of residential canals across the city. When the winter residents come back down, many of them will be preparing their boats for launching into another season of use. Add to that the year-round locals who are out on the water and the tourists who decide to rent a boat for a day, and you get congested waterways and some not-so-skilled boat operators.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement has released their annual 2017 Boating Accidents Statistical Report. It’s a very comprehensive and detailed look at the many topics related to boating accidents – here are a couple of interesting facts:

A “reportable boating accident” is one that involves at least one of these criteria:

  • A fatality occurs
  • A person disappears
  • A person is injured to a degree that more than immediate first aid is required
  • More than $2,000 in property damage occurs to at least one vessel in the crash
  • A vessel is declared a total loss
  • Florida has the most registered vessels in the U.S.
  • There were 766 reportable Florida boating accidents in 2017
  • Collision with another vessel accounted for 29% of all reportable boating collisions
  • Rented personal watercraft (PWC) accounted for 47% of all PWC accidents
  • 67% of boat operators involved in fatal crashes had no formal boater education

“It’s that last stat that is really the most alarming”, says Fort Myers personal injury attorney Michael Noone, a partner at Goldberg Noone, LLC. “I live on the water and I love taking my boat out, and thinking about the other boaters around me and how they not be properly trained to operate the boat can be very concerning.”

Boating education is a critical element in reducing tragic accidents on the water – even something as simple as wearing a life jacket can save a life. The FWC report shows that a large number of boat-related fatalities involved people falling overboard and drowning. Many of these could have been prevented had the people been wearing a life jacket.

Another alarming statistic found in the report indicates that the boat operators most likely to be involved in an accident are middle-aged or older males who do have boating experience, but have never taken a safe boating course to learn the most basic and important safety aspects of boat operation.

Noone adds, “With so many opportunities to get educated about safe operation of your boat – the FWC, the local Coast Guard Auxiliary, and more – it’s hard to imagine not taking advantage of learning how to stay as safe as you possibly can on the water.”

More Florida Boat Accident Details

  • There were 43 reportable accidents in Lee County for 2017
  • The vast majority of crashes occurred between 2 and 4 pm.
  • “Cruising” is listed as the activity at the time of the majority of accidents
  • “No proper lookout / inattention” is listed as the leading primary cause of most boating accidents
  • 25% of fatal boating accidents involved alcohol or drug use by the vessel operator
  • Lee County ranked #5 in the state for boating accidents in 2017

In 2008 there were 386 boating accidents resulting in injuries in Florida, and in 2017 that number jumped to 437.

What To Do if You’ve Been Injured in a Boating Accident

The first thing you need to do if you’re hurt in a boating accident is to attend to your physical injuries. There is nothing more important than getting immediate treatment for your injuries. It’s critical to ensure you are completely evaluated by a recognized medical provider to find out the severity of your injuries. Many times, your injuries may not appear at first, but show up a few days or even weeks after the crash.

After any crash, whether it’s on the water or a road, you’re going to have a million questions. You may feel that another party should be held liable for your injuries. Just like in a motor vehicle accident, a negligent or careless boat operator may be legally at fault for the crash that caused your injuries, and a skilled personal injury attorney can help you recover financial compensation for your injuries, lost wages if you’re unable to work, future medical care or rehabilitation and more.

It never costs a penny to call and ask us questions about your boating accident. In fact, should you decide to hire Goldberg Noone law firm to represent you in your accident, you’ll never pay us a thing unless we are successful in obtaining a favorable settlement or trial verdict on your behalf.

“Boating around Southwest Florida can be a great time to share with family and friends,” attorney Noone says. Each boat operator should do everything they can to be a responsible boater – take a safe boating course, don’t operate a boat if you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and always make sure to have enough life jackets on board.”

For more information about being represented by Goldberg Noone, LLC, call 239-461-5508 or just complete this simple form and we’ll contact you immediately.

For a complete version of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission 2017 boating accident report, click here.