Falling overboard is a real fear and danger when it comes to boating activities. Florida residents own more boats than any other state’s residents. This is unsurprising considering the thousands of miles of coastline and waterways that Florida can offer, but it also means that the rate of boat-related accidents is much higher. There are specific rules that apply when an overboard accident occurs on a cruise ship or commercial vessel. Some statistics report that falling overboard is the deadliest type of boating accident, with this type of incident comprising 39 percent of fatal boating injuries in 2011. At Donaldson & Weston, our Stuart boating accident attorneys are prepared to guide you through the legal process and to assist you in securing the justice that you deserve.Holding a Negligent Boating Operator Responsible for Injuries Caused by Falling Overboard
When it comes to maintaining and operating a boat or water vessel, Florida has enacted a number of laws. These range from requirements to obtain a boater education certificate to stowing an appropriate number of life vests on each craft. There are rules limiting the speed that a boater can drive in certain areas, as well as prohibitions on boating while intoxicated and other types of conduct. Many overboard accidents happen because a boat operator failed to pay attention to their surroundings, failed to notice changing weather, or was simply engaging in distracted boating activities like texting or talking on the phone.
If you are injured in an overboard incident, you can bring a personal injury claim against the defendant who was operating the boat at the time of the crash to recover compensation for your injuries and damages. The first step of the lawsuit will require you to show that the defendant did not use the same level of reasonable care and skill that a prudent and careful boat operator would have used when faced with the same situation. Your attorney can use evidence of the defendant’s boating law violations, if any, at the time of the crash to help establish that the defendant lacked due care. If you were injured in an overboard accident on a cruise line or a commercial vessel, meanwhile, you can assert a claim against the company that employed the boat operator as well. This is based on a doctrine called vicarious liability, which holds employers liable for the tortious acts that their employees commit during the course and scope of employment.
After establishing liability, you must prove that the defendant’s conduct was the cause of the injuries that you sustained. If the defendant can show that some other factor caused you to fall overboard and get injured, you may be precluded from recovery. This could include some unforeseen act of nature or even evidence of your own negligence at the time that the incident occurred. For example, if the defendant can show that you were intoxicated at the time that you fell overboard, or that the defendant had asked you to refrain from standing in a certain place or leaning over the side of the vessel, your compensation may be reduced or precluded entirely. The jury is allowed to consider evidence of your negligence and to assign a percentage of fault to your conduct. Any damages award in your favor will then be reduced by this percentage.
The final step of the lawsuit involves determining the amount of compensation that you are entitled to receive. Medical expenses are a standard category of damages that plaintiffs seek, in addition to lost wages. If your injuries are severe and result in long-term or permanent disabilities, you may be able to receive compensation for your ongoing medical care needs and reduced earning capacity.Consult a Knowledgeable Boating Accident Lawyer in the Stuart Area
The seasoned boating accident attorneys at Donaldson & Weston proudly serve victims throughout the region, including in Port St. Lucie, Stuart, and Jupiter, as well as other areas of Martin, St. Lucie, and Palm Beach Counties. We know how stressful and painful this situation is for your family and you. To schedule a free consultation, call us now at 772-266-5555 or contact us online.