Gainesville Boat Accident Lawyer
Florida has the highest number of registered boat owners in the country, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and many of them live right here in Gainesville. Boating is not just a fun recreational activity here: it is a lifestyle.
Unfortunately, accidents can happen on the water just as they can occur between vehicles on the road. When these collisions occur, they often result in catastrophic injuries. If you or someone you love has been hurt, our Gainesville boat accident attorneys can advise you of your legal options. Give us a call today to get started: (352) 373-8000.
Our Attorney Can Help With Your Injuries After a Boating Accident
During a boating accident, victims can become injured in a number of ways. The most common injuries sustained are as follows:
- Drowning: The very nature of boating accidents, and the fact that they occur on the water, places boat operators and passengers at great risk of drownings or near-drownings.
- Spinal cord injuries: Passengers on a boat can suffer spinal cord injuries if they are thrown from the boat into the water or if they are thrown around the boat due to excessive speeds or an impact. A boating accident can also create large waves and wakes that cause the boat to bounce up and down. This motion can result in spinal cord injuries, particularly herniated discs.
- Brain injuries: Brain injuries occur in a variety of ways during a boating accident. They can happen by oxygen deprivation through submersion in the water, or through trauma from being thrown around the boat or into the water. Running engines can also expose people on the boat to carbon monoxide poisoning, or victims may be thrown against a bulkhead during the accident and sustain a brain injury.
- Lacerations: Cuts sustained during a boat accident are often very deep, particularly when they are caused by the blades of the propeller.
- Electrocution: The electrical systems on a boat can become submerged in water, causing electrocution.
The above injuries can be fatal or have long-lasting effects. An injury attorney in Gainesville can advise you of your legal options to claim compensation.
Our Attorney Explains Your Options After a Boating Accident
If you were involved in a boating accident that was the fault of someone else, the law gives you the right to receive financial compensation for your injuries, as well as your other losses.
You can file a claim against the operator of another vessel, or even the operator of your boat, if their negligence caused a crash. If your crash was caused by a defective part of the boat, you can file a claim against the manufacturer, or the maintenance or inspection company.
How Long You Have to File a Boat Accident Lawsuit in Gainesville, FL
Filing a lawsuit after a boating accident is rarely easy. You have to file your lawsuit within two years of the accident and before that, you must conduct an investigation and collect evidence to prove your case. A Gainesville boat accident attorney will ensure your lawsuit is filed properly so you recover the maximum damages you deserve.
Allowing the two-year deadline to expire can destroy the ability to legally pursue compensation.
Your attorney will explain any exceptions to this time limit that may affect your case. The sooner you come to us for your free consultation, the sooner we can begin building your case.
How Negligence Causes Boating Accidents in Gainesville
When someone operates a boat, they have a duty to keep others safe by following the laws and avoiding reckless behavior. However, many boat operators and other parties neglect their duty of care toward others, resulting in devastating accidents.
Some common ways negligence results in boating accidents in Gainesville include:
- Operating the boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Operator inexperience
- Not providing adequate safety equipment
There isn’t always a single clear-cut factor that causes a boat accident. In some cases, there are multiple at-fault parties. Our boat accident attorneys in Gainesville will identify all responsible parties to get you the compensation you need.
Who Is Liable for a Boating Accident in Gainesville, FL?
Most local Florida collisions involve state civil negligence laws. This means victims must establish that others’ carelessness caused their damages to pursue liability claims.
Potential negligent parties often include specific boat operators directly involved through actions like ignoring right-of-way protocol, drinking while boating, or ignoring weather warnings. However, liability can extend further.
Boat owners can be responsible for entrusting vessels to incompetent captains. Product manufacturers may share blame if equipment like defective steering components or engine failures contributed. Government agencies might also be liable if hazards like uncleared waterway debris or a lack of warning signs contributed.
Successfully proving liability requires thoroughly investigating every potential source of liability. Our Florida boating accident attorneys know how to identify all negligent entities and hold each accountable through aggressive negotiation and litigation..
Types of Boating Accidents Our Gainesville Personal Injury Lawyers Represent
Some of the most common types of Florida boat accidents our Gainesville personal injury lawyers represent include:
- Collisions: This could include boat vs object, person, other boat, or jet ski. Determining who is at-fault relies on navigational rules and witness accounts.
- Ejections and drowning: Occupants can be thrown into the water, especially if they were not wearing seat belts. Vessel operators can be liable for allowing overloaded or alcohol-impaired operation.
- Propeller strikes: Those swimming or participating in water sports can be cut by the propeller. Safety spotting and propeller guards can prevent these gruesome injuries.
- Distraction: Failure to pay full attention heightens risks. Smartphones and horseplay divert operator focus.
- Poor maintenance: This could include engine issues, hull damage, etc. Ignoring annual servicing and warning lights risks passenger safety.
- Missing safety equipment: Life jackets, flares, etc. could prevent disasters. Inspection enforcement lapses contribute across agencies.
Determining the cause of your boat accident and the liable parties allows victims to pursue just claims. Don’t accept “acts of God” excuses—behind many seemingly unavoidable sinkings, ejections, and collisions lies preventable negligence.
Damages You Can Claim in a Gainesville Boat Accident Lawsuit
When you file a boat accident case in Gainesville, you can recover any of your accident-related damages. Boat crash victims can pursue fair compensation covering:
- Current and future medical costs like therapy, medication, or equipment
- The cost of medical and emergency transportation
- Emotional damages for trauma, anxiety and reduced life quality
- Lost income from missed work during treatment or long-term disabilities
- Repair/replacement costs for damaged vessels and property
- Funeral and burial expenses in cases of fatal Florida boat accidents
Though money alone can’t undo suffering or impairment from preventable accidents, rightful restitution can lessen your burdens. A boat accident attorney in Gainesville can fiercely negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company to demand the full value of your compensation.
Comparative Negligence in Florida Boat Accident Claims
“Comparative negligence” is a common defense strategy used by at-fault drivers and boat operators in Florida to divert some liability onto victims. They claim victims share partial responsibility for their own injuries or the accident so they can lower the compensation amount they owe you. Don’t believe it.
Your Gainesville boat accident attorney will use evidence to decrease your percentage of fault or to prove that you weren’t at fault at all. This is an important part of your claim because it directly impacts your compensation.
Under Florida’s modified comparative negligence laws, victims with partial blame under 50% can still pursue reduced compensation. This means even if you shared some percentage of fault in the boat accident, you can still file a claim for compensation, but you may also be required to pay some compensation based on your percentage of fault.
What to Do After a Boat Accident in Gainesville, Florida
If you’ve been involved in a boat accident in Gainesville, here are important next steps to take to protect your civil claim’s value:
Seek Medical Treatment
Get emergency medical care for any injuries sustained, even if seemingly minor. Documenting injuries is critical for claims because the medical record your doctor visits will create an important piece of evidence. You can visit HCA Florida North Florida Hospital, Millhopper Emergency, or another medical facility to start your medical record.
After a boat accident, you’ll need to collect key details from any boat operators and passengers involved, including licenses, registration, insurance, and contact information. You will also need to gather the contact information of any witnesses. If you are able to, it’s a good idea to write down or videotape witness statements, as eyewitness memories can fade over time.
Document and Preserve Evidence
Take photos capturing damage to each boat and the accident environment if possible. Secure names of eyewitnesses. Keep copies of accident details, medical reports, contact info, police filings, insurance policies, repair invoices and other important documentation related to the incident.
Report the Accident
According to Florida Statute § 327.301, you are legally required to report a boating accident when it results in property damage of at least $2,000, bodily injury, or one or more deaths or disappearances. You may need to alert local authorities like the Gainesville Police Department or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to investigate the incident and produce a report, which is an important piece of evidence you’ll need for your claim.
Contact an Attorney
Call a Florida boat accident attorney to discuss legal representation for injury claims, insurance policies, liability disputes, and recovering damages. We can meet with you for an initial consultation to discuss the details of your case and determine if you have a valid claim. Then, we will begin putting together a case for your compensation.
Avoid Social Posts
Do not publish information regarding the accident publicly before consulting our team, as this can negatively impact your claim. Even if you think your accounts are set to private, the other party’s insurance agents may still be able to access your feed and get information from your posts that they can use to devalue your claim—or to deny it altogether.
Boating mishaps from collisions to capsizing often cause devastating injuries. Protect yourself and your claim by taking action. Our boat accident lawyers in Gainesville will fight for you.
How a Gainesville Boat Accident Attorney Can Help You
Here are some of the key things a Florida boat accident lawyer can do for you:
- We assess liability. We analyze culpability and fault aspects like right-of-way issues, navigation violations, and waterway dangers and interview witnesses and investigate thoroughly to pin down sources of negligence.
- We fight for every dollar you need. We protect your claim from insurance companies attempting to give you less than you deserve.
- We take legal action. When necessary, we file lawsuits against any negligent parties to secure full accident injury compensation.
- We gather evidence. We collect and preserve all vital evidence like boat damage photographs, accident scene footage, weather reports, incident logs and medical records that support case claims.
- We alleviate burdens. We reduce clients’ emotional burdens throughout the challenging legal process so they can focus on recovery.
- We calculate damages. We determine the value of both economic losses like property damage and medical costs as well as more ambiguous non-economic damages including impaired quality of life.
- We keep your case on track. We fight any potential delays by ensuring paperwork is correct and compelling insurers to respect your rights.
Don’t let complex legal and insurance intricacies overwhelm you after a collision. Our team fights tooth and nail to make you whole.
Our Gainesville Boat Accident Attorneys Can Provide Sound Legal Advice
If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating collision, our Gainesville boating accident attorney at Meldon Law can provide the legal representation you need. Our knowledgeable attorneys will advise you of your rights and protect your best interests at all times. Call us today at (352) 373-8000 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.