The aptly named Lake County and surrounding areas are wonderful recreational resources for anyone who enjoys sailing, motor boating or other vehicular watersports. But just as traffic accidents are a risk you take every time you get into a car, drivers and passengers of water vessels face their own range of potential hazards.
The dangers are underscored in a recent report on boating statistics issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission. In 2017, the state saw its annual rate of accidents go up to 766, a 7.3 percent increase over the 714 that occurred in Florida in 2016.
Such accidents are often the result of excessive speed or other forms of reckless driving. In one incident recounted in the report, a speedboat operator attempting to steer into Tavernier Creek was unable to navigate a sharp bend and struck a thicket of mangroves, ejecting everyone on board. Others involved jet skis and boats colliding, possibly because one or both drivers were distracted and didn’t see the other vessel before it was too late. In the majority of fatal boating accidents that occurred in 2017, the victims did not take proper precautions, such as wearing life jackets.
Another type of risky behavior that can lead to fatal accidents is consumption of alcohol and/or drugs, which played a role in 24 percent of all boating fatalities in 2017. Not only can drug and alcohol use cause boat operators to drive dangerously, but drivers and passengers under the influence can lose their balance and fall overboard, which was responsible for more than 40 percent of boating deaths.
Boat operators and owners have a legal duty to care for and use their vessels in a reasonable and prudent manner. They must respect other vessels, observe posted restrictions and act appropriately in all circumstances so as not to create hazards or put themselves or their passengers in peril. Operating a craft recklessly, violating navigation rules and boating under the influence are all forms of negligent conduct that can constitute a basis for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit if harm is suffered as a result.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a boating accident, contact the experienced boating negligence attorneys of Largey Law Firm in Central Florida. Contact us online to arrange a free consultation at one of our offices in Clermont, Inverness or Tavares.