Floridians love their time on the water. With so many lakes and canals, not to mention the coastline, there are unlimited opportunities for fun and adventure.
Unfortunately, people can often be injured or even killed by accidents involving boats, jet-skis, or personal watercraft. In a manner similar to car accidents, inattentive operators, disregard for rules of the water, and drunkenness can all lead to serious injuries.
If you or a family member has been injured while operating a boat, riding a jet-ski, or even swimming, a Dunedin maritime injury lawyer can help. An experienced personal injury lawyer can fight for you.
Maritime Laws in Florida
Much like any other personal injury claim, injuries resulting from boating accidents are usually examined under the legal theory of negligence.
Negligence, in simplest terms, is when a person has a responsibility under the law to protect other people, but through an action that they take, that protected person comes to harm. Negligence, as a Dunedin maritime injury attorney can explain, may also occur when a person fails to take any action.
Consider the example of two boats approaching a buoy that requires both drivers to pass on the right. Boat A passes on the right as required, but Boat B ignores the buoy, remains on the left and the boat collides. Boat A’s driver breaks his arm. There are five parts or portions for a successful negligence claim:
- Duty – This is a legal responsibility that some people have to protect others from harm, known as a duty of care. When a person drives a boat, they assume a duty to ensure that all other drivers are kept safe. In this example, both drivers have a duty to protect each other simply by driving a boat.
- Breach – A breach of the duty of care occurs when a person takes an action that brought another to harm. In this example, the driver of Boat B breached his duty of care to Boat A by driving on the wrong side of the buoy.
- Cause – The plaintiff must be able to show that the injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach of the duty of care. Here, the broken arm is certainly caused by the collision.
- Scope – The plaintiff must also demonstrate that the injuries were foreseeable from the facts of the case. Collisions between boats can often cause serious injuries; therefore, a broken arm is certainly within the realm of possibility.
- Damages – The plaintiff must have actual physical damages. Mental damages such as pain and suffering may be added on, but are insufficient for a claim on their own.
Negligence Per Se
An alternative theory to the case that a Dunedin maritime injury lawyer can use is the concept of negligence per se. This is the idea that a defendant’s actions may be considered negligence automatically due to their breaking of a law.
Boat B’s decision to ignore the buoy will most likely be considered negligent per se since maritime laws require that boaters adhere to all signs and markers.
Lastly, the plaintiff must be aware of the time limits to file a claim in court. The statute of limitations gives plaintiffs in all personal injury claims a limit of four years to file in court.
Let a Dunedin Maritime Injury Attorney Assist You Today
A Dunedin maritime injury lawyer can represent individuals who have been injured in accidents on the water. Whether you were injured as a boat driver, boat passenger, kayaker, or swimmer, you have the right to seek fair compensation for your injuries.
Defendants’ insurance companies like to offer settlements at token sums or even try to convince you that the accident was your fault. Do not let an insurance company bully you, contact a skilled attorney today.