As the hot summer days draw thousands of boaters onto our many area waterways, the risk of being involved in a serious boating accident heats up, too. With pleasure craft, personal watercraft, large yachts and commercial vessels all flying over the surf, some at high rates of speed – you have the potential for a crash on area waters.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission notes that Florida leads the nation in the number of annual boating accidents, and there were 620 in 2009. With just under 1 million boats registered in Florida for 2009, its not hard to imagine the variety of scenarios that can cause a severe, injury causing accident, or even cause a boating crash fatality.
One of the main causes of boating crashes boils down to a simple fact; the inattention and/or improper operational skills of the vessel's driver. Boaters who have not had sufficient boating safety training, a boater who makes the choice to consume alcohol while operating a boat, and the reckless operation of the boat are noted as leading reasons for a crash.
Two or more boats can collide with each other, but boats that strike stationary objects cause a large percentage of injuries. Sadly, Southwest Florida has a large percentage of the state's accidents. Within the ranking of the top ten counties for boating accidents in 2008, Collier County came in at 6th, and Lee County ranked as number 9.
In May 2010, three people suffered traumatic injuries in a tragic boating accident when a boat traveling at a high rate of speed hit the seawall near the end of Coral Point Drive, in Cape Coral. The accident happened at around 7:30 in the evening, and the Fish & Wildlife Commission's initial investigators considered alcohol to be involved in the crash, but tests had not yet been returned.
The Florida FWC also reports these statistics for 2009:
• In 2009, boaters falling overboard was the main cause of boating fatalities.
This trend, although preventable, continues to grow.
• 70% of the Operators involved in reportable boating accidents had no formal boater education.
• 52% of the fatal crashes involved vessels less than 18 feet in length.
• Monroe County, home of the Florida Keys, reported the highest number of accidents and injuries with 77 total accidents, with 3 fatalities and 52 injuries.
• The deadliest month for 2009 was July, with 8 fatalities.
• The total fatality count for 2009 is reported as 65.
• 18.5% of the boating fatalities were caused by alcohol or drug use.
A boating accident can ruin a family's life in the blink of an eye. Life-long injuries, medical costs and procedures, extensive rehabilitative therapies and very likely an inadequate amount of insurance coverage will mean you will never be able to live as you had before.
We urge you to practice safe boating and responsible operation every time you hit the water for a day of fishing or cruising with family and friends. If you have been the victim of a boating accident injury, Goldberg, Racila, D'Alessandro & Noone can provide a no-obligation consultation to review the specific details of your case, and best counsel you on how we will fight for your rights under the law. Contact us at 239-461-5908, or read more on our website at www.goldberg-law.com.