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Guidelines to Safely Operate a Boat in Florida

The United States Coast Guard’s Recreational Boating Statistics in 2019 showed that there were 4,168 boating incidents that resulted in the loss of 613 lives. These incidents also lead to 2,559 injuries. The total cost for property damages that year from these incidents was $55 million. Even though the fatality rate from boating accidents in the country decreased in 2019 by 1.9%, the state of Florida is still number one when compared to all other states in terms of private boat ownership. In 2019 the number of reported deadly boat incidents in the state was up from the previous year.

If you have been in a Jacksonville boating accident, it is important that you obtain the compensation you need to get the medical treatment required so you can recover effectively from your injuries. Because boating accidents can have deadly results if you lost a loved one in a Florida boating accident, connecting with the Jacksonville boating accident attorneys at Sheftall & Associates to file a Florida wrongful death claim will help you get the compensation you deserve after suffering such a tragedy. The proficient Jacksonville personal injury attorneys at Sheftall & Associates have decades of combined experience to help you be successful with your Florida personal injury claim.

The Cost of Boating Accidents in Florida

While the country experienced a cost of $55 million in 2019, the state of Florida had $7 million worth of property damage from boating accidents that year. There were 961,266 watercraft vessels registered in the state in 2019 and 723 boating incidents. Florida had 116 more boating accidents in 2019 than in 2018. As a result of these incidents, 57 people died and 297 suffered some type of physical bodily harm.

Fatal boating accidents don’t always have a final outcome where the cause of death is confirmed. Most often though, in 79% of the confirmed cases, the USCG says that drowning is the reason a victim lost their life. Life jackets are incredibly important to keep on a boat and for many people wearing a life jacket when on a boat is critical to staying alive should an accident happen. However, in 2019 the USCG reported that 86% of the victims who died were not wearing a life vest.

Boat License Laws in Florida

Florida has some of the most beautiful and dazzling white sand beaches that you can find anywhere in the world. The clear blue water is attractive for all types of water-based activities. Because of the wealth of various water bodies and beaches, the diversity of shorelines, and the warm climate, boating is very popular. To go boating the guidelines are not overly restrictive and burdensome, but there are actions that prospective boaters must take to operate their vessel.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles does not require individuals to have a boating license in order to operate their watercraft. For any individual that was born on or after January 1, 1988, the Association of State Boating Law Administrators education course must be taken. For vessels that have a minimum of ten horsepower and higher, individuals must have their boating education ID card and photo identification.

It is natural for visitors that come to Florida to also want to take advantage of boating on the beautiful, crystal clear water. Visitors are required to follow the same requirements as residents. As long as a visitor can show proof that they have taken a safety course that is up to the expectations of boating safety courses in Florida, they may operate their boat. Otherwise, if a visitor is interested in renting a boat they will have to get a temporary certificate. The certificate will only be active for 90 days.

Not only are the requirements for getting on the water necessary for both residents and visitors, but individuals must also operate their vessels safely. Just like driving, errors on the part of a boat operator can have devastating outcomes. Boating is considered a leisurely activity and because of this, there are countless amount of people that believe even if they are the boat operator they can behave in a leisurely way and engage in reckless actions like consuming alcohol. It is strictly prohibited and illegal to operate a watercraft or other motorized water vessel while under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol. So if you are operating your boat, you must stay sober, just like you would if you were driving your car. Still, far too many ignore these laws and as shown in the recreational boating statistics report by the USCG, alcohol consumption was the leading cause of deadly boating incidents. Of all of the deaths that occurred in boating accidents across the country, 23% were alcohol-related.

When a boat operator is under the influence they can be arrested. Boating under the influence is very serious, and the statistics show that when the operator is impaired, incidents that take place on the water have a 30% chance of ending with deadly consequences.

Speak with a Florida Boat Accident Attorney Today

The Jacksonville boat accident attorneys at Sheftall & Associates are dedicated to helping victims of serious Jacksonville boating accidents see justice through compensation that accounts for all of their damages. When you work with the talented legal team at Sheftall & Associates your case will be handled properly and professionally. 

Operating a boat is an entertaining activity, but it requires training, practice, and responsibility. Sometimes, there is no stopping a devastating incident on the water from taking place. All too often, though, careless behavior leads to injuries and in the worst cases, death. If you sustained harm or if you lost a loved one in a boating accident that was caused by another party’s negligence, it is worthwhile to speak with one of the Jackson personal injury attorneys at Sheftall & Associates to learn about what you can do to obtain compensation for your damages. Please call Sheftall & Associates today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation at 904-647-2296.