Driving at an Unsafe Speed
If you live in Florida, you know how wonderful water-related activities can be for health, recreation, and exercise. Florida is one of the most popular boating locations in the world, which means that people of all different experience levels flock to the location year-round to enjoy the thousands of miles of coastline. Unfortunately, some boat operators may not be experienced enough to handle their vessels, or they may not be sufficiently familiar with the regulations and laws that apply to operating a boat. Just as with driving a car, Florida imposes operational laws on boaters to ensure the safety of their passengers and other people around them. These include limits on how fast you can drive a boat at various locations in the water, such as a harbor. At Donaldson & Weston, our Stuart boating accident lawyers assist accident victims throughout Martin and St. Lucie Counties.Understanding Florida’s Boating Safety Laws
Florida waterways are equipped with signs that advise motorists of the maximum allowable speed in that area. Florida imposes these speeds in certain areas for the protection of other boaters and swimmers, as well as for manatees that may be in the area. For example, in an “Idle Speed, No Wake” zone, an operator must travel at a speed that is no greater than that which is necessary to maintain headway and steerage. The vessel should not create a wake in these areas. In addition to these posted speed limits, Florida boating laws require operators to always maintain a safe speed when passing other watercraft or swimmers. This may change depending on the visibility and weather conditions, as well as how much traffic is in the area. For example, if there is a storm or rough water conditions, an operator may need to reduce their speed even below the posted speed limit in order to handle their vessel safely.Bring a Claim Against a Negligent Boat Operator
If you are injured in a boating accident that occurred as a result of another operator’s excessive speed, an attorney can help you bring a negligence action against that person to recover compensation for your injuries. There are four things that you must prove in a negligence action. First, you must prove that the at-fault boater owed you a duty of care. In general, all boat operators have a duty to drive their vessels with the same reasonable care and skill that a prudent boat operator would use. This includes obeying all boating laws and regulations, as well as taking into account any inclement weather or poor visibility conditions.
The next fact that you must prove is that the defendant failed to act according to this duty. If the defendant violated a posted speed limit, evidence of this violation can be used to show that the defendant did not act with the appropriate level of care. If the accident occurred in an area with no posted speed limit, you must show that the defendant drove faster than a prudent boater would have driven, considering the conditions that existed at the time of the crash.
Next, you must establish that the defendant’s lack of care was the reason that you were injured. If the defendant can prove that some other factor was the substantial cause of your injuries, such as your own negligent conduct, you may be barred from recovery. Finally, the plaintiff will need to offer evidence supporting the amount of compensation that they are requesting in the litigation. Common items of recovery include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.Meet with an Experienced Stuart Attorney Following a Collision on the Water
At Donaldson & Weston, we have seen firsthand how devastating a boating accident can be for a victim. When it comes to accidents that result from excessive speed, the injuries that result can be catastrophic and even life-altering. Ensuring that you receive the full amount of compensation that you deserve is a critical step in recovering from the accident and moving on with your life. Our seasoned team of personal injury lawyers can fight for your rights throughout the legal process, whether the other driver was speeding, distracted, or drunk. We proudly serve clients in Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Jupiter, and throughout Martin and St. Lucie Counties. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at 772-266-5555 or contact us online to get started.