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Lake City Watercraft Accident Lawyer

In the Sunshine State, watercraft is one of the most popular, and most dangerous, outdoor activities. Florida has more boats, and more boating accidents, than any other state in the Union. These incidents kill or seriously injure hundreds of people each year. Personal watercraft are especially hazardous. Although they make up only about a tenth of the registered watercraft in Florida, they account for about a quarter of the state’s boating accidents.

The aggressive Lake City watercraft accident lawyers at Douglas & Carter go after negligent boaters and the insurance companies which try to protect them. Where appropriate, we also work to hold third parties responsible, if they somehow had a hand in the boating accident. This aggressive approach is the best way to get the compensation, and the justice, that you deserve. You expect nothing less, and neither do we.

Watercraft Operator Qualifications in Florida

Most boats are as big as most cars. Furthermore, a boat is a lot more difficult to control than a car, since boats float randomly and cars are evenly balanced on four wheels. The aforementioned personal watercraft are a bit like motorcycles. They are small and quick and difficult to see. Additionally, whereas most motorcycle riders strictly adhere to the rules of the road, many personal watercraft pilots are borderline reckless.

You must have a license to drive a motor vehicle in Florida, but you do not need a license to pilot a boat. Florida does not even have a minimum age for boaters. Individuals born after 1998 must take a boating safety class. But this “class” usually includes no onboard instruction, and many people complete the class online in just a few clicks.

In 2016, only about 30 percent of the people involved in boating accidents had any formal training whatsoever. This lack of oversight, along with the sheer number of watercraft in the Lake City area, probably explains why there are so many boating accidents in Columbia County.

What Causes Lake City Boating Accidents?

Just like driver error causes most car crashes, boater error causes most watercraft accidents. Some examples include:

  • Alcohol: Even though boating while intoxicated is illegal, consuming alcohol on boats is a serious problem. Alcohol impairs both judgment skills and motor skills, significantly increasing the likelihood of a collision with another boat. Many passengers under the influence of alcohol also fall overboard.
  • Failure to Yield: Most watercraft have low profiles and no operating lights. Unless operators are very diligent, they simply will not see other watercraft in their path.
  • Speed: Excessive velocity increases the risk of a collision and the force in the collision. Boats have no brakes so they must coast to a stop. As a result, speeding boaters have little time to react to unexpected situations. Moreover, speed multiples the force in a collision between two object. Minor fender-benders become serious injury crashes.

Damages in a boating accident usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, as well as noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may also be available in some extreme cases.

Establishing Liability in Lake City Boating Collisions

Some of these instances are truly one-off “accidents.” But most of them involve either negligence, which is a lack of ordinary care, or negligence per se, which is the violation of a safety law.

Alcohol is a good example. If an impaired boater causes injury, the incident was not an “accident.” Rather, the incident was the result of the tortfeasor’s (negligent operator’s) poor choices. Typically, the tortfeasors made these choices before they even stepped on board their boats.

Reach Out to Dedicated Watercraft Accident Lawyers Today

Boating accidents often cause serious or fatal injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lake City, contact Douglas & Carter. Home and hospital visits are available.

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