Since Florida boasts thousands of lakes and hundreds of miles of ocean coastline, it is not surprising that it leads the nation in the number of boating accidents each year. These events can result during the use of Jet Skis, sailboats, canoes, kayaks, yachts, or other watercraft. Regardless of the particular vessel, devastating accidents can occur. If you or someone in your family has been hurt on a boat in Stuart or the surrounding cities, the injury lawyers at Donaldson & Weston can help you seek compensation from the party whose careless conduct caused the harm.Holding a Negligent Boat Operator Accountable for Damages
Like most personal injury lawsuits, boating accident cases tend to be based on negligence law. Negligence cases require a four-step inquiry. The defendant must have owed a legal duty of care to the claimant, and the defendant must have breached that duty by failing to take the appropriate precautions. Moreover, there must have been a causal link connecting the breach to the incident in which the victim was hurt, and actual damages must have arisen.
People operating watercraft are expected to use the same level of care that a reasonable, prudent person would use in the same situation. Some of the common scenarios in which boaters may breach this duty include driving at an unsafe speed, distracted boating, boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or failing to keep a proper lookout.
In some instances, the defendant may argue that the doctrine of comparative fault should reduce the recovery to which the claimant may be entitled. Under the rule of pure comparative fault, however, Florida allows a victim whose own negligence contributed to an accident to recover damages that are proportionate to the defendant’s degree of responsibility. The total award may be reduced, but only to the extent that the victim acted carelessly. The right to compensation will not be barred unless the victim was completely responsible for the accident.
A person injured in a boating accident may be able to recover damages for losses and expenses related to the accident, including lost wages, loss of earning capacity, past and future medical bills, and pain and suffering. If a boating accident causes a victim’s death, that person’s family can potentially pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. Damages available in a wrongful death action are similar to those in a personal injury claim but may also include items such as loss of net earnings to the decedent’s estate, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of the decedent’s companionship, training, and guidance.Explore Your Options with a Stuart Lawyer after an Accident
Getting started on a boating accident case is an important step toward getting your life back in order after a serious injury or the loss of a loved one. It is important not to delay in seeking legal guidance, since vital evidence may decay with time, and the statute of limitations places restrictions on the right to assert a claim. To speak to an experienced personal injury attorney in the Stuart area about a boating accident, a car crash, or another motor vehicle collision, call Donaldson & Weston at 772-266-5555 or contact us online to set up a free consultation. We also represent individuals in cities such as Jupiter, Port St. Lucie, and West Palm Beach, among other communities in St. Lucie, Martin, and Palm Beach Counties.