Florida is famous for its waterways and ample water-related recreational activities. One of the most popular activities for Florida residents and tourists is water skiing. This surface water sport allows riders to ski along the surface while being pulled behind a boat or other water vehicle. In addition to the skier, there is a boat operator who guides the boat and a spotter who must keep an eye on the skier at all times to watch for signs of distress or problems. Despite this safety protocol, it is not uncommon for water skiers to suffer serious and painful injuries due to the negligence of the boat operator or spotter. At Donaldson & Weston, our Stuart boat accident lawyers proudly assist victims and families in St. Lucie, Palm Beach, and Martin Counties with seeking the compensation that they need from a distracted boater or other negligent party.Florida Rules Regarding Water Skiing Safety
Florida has many rules and regulations that apply to water activities in the state. When it comes to the waterskiing spotter requirement, Florida only requires a spotter when the boat operator does not have a sufficient wide-angle rear-view mirror. If the boat operator must use a spotter, it is critical that the spotter and driver work together to ensure the safety of the skier. In addition to adhering to the spotter rule, the boat operator must also keep an eye out for several other conditions that could compromise the safety of the skier. The skier must have plenty of space and not accidentally collide with other boats, swimmers, or fixed objects. The depth of the water must be between five and six feet, and the boat towing the skier is required to stay at least 100 feet from the dock, shoreline, and areas that swimmers frequent at all times. It is also a good idea for skiers to be confident swimmers in the event of an emergency or an accident. Other relevant rules that apply in water skiing accidents include establishing hand signals, refraining from skiing at night, and wearing a life jacket.Understanding Liability in Waterski Accidents
The first step to recovering compensation after you are injured in a waterski accident is to show that the boat operator failed to use reasonable care and skill at the time of the accident. This standard of care encompasses the same behavior that a prudent and careful boat operator would use, taking into account the current weather conditions, the experience level of the skier, and all applicable boating laws. Since a prudent boat operator would not violate a boating law, any evidence showing that the operator failed to abide by the boating laws likely means that the defendant was acting negligently. Some other common examples of negligent boating conduct include driving at an unsafe speed and boating while intoxicated.
Next, your injury lawyer will need to show that the defendant’s lack of appropriate care was the cause of the injuries that you suffered. Florida has adopted the pure comparative negligence doctrine, which means that the defendant is allowed to offer evidence suggesting that the plaintiff also acted negligently at the time of the crash and that they contributed to their injuries. If the jury concludes that the plaintiff was negligent, the jury can assign a percentage of fault to the plaintiff and reduce any judgment by that percentage. When it comes to compensation, the plaintiff’s attorney will need to offer documentation showing the amount of medical expenses that they incurred, as well as possibly paystubs reflecting lost wages. The plaintiff can seek pain and suffering damages too, as well as compensation for permanent disabilities resulting from the accident.Personalized Legal Counsel for Victims of Boating Accidents in Stuart and Beyond
Realizing that you may be entitled to compensation from someone following a boating accident can be encouraging while you are dealing with your injuries. However, it can be hard to know how to go about protecting your legal interests. At Donaldson & Weston, our attorneys serve victims of collisions with fixed objects and other boating accidents in communities such as Stuart, Jupiter, and Port St. Lucie. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at 772-266-5555 or contact us online.