With over 1,000 miles of coastline, not to mention thousands of lakes and around 11,000 miles of rivers, streams, and waterways, it is no wonder that boating is among the most popular choices for recreational activities in the Sunshine State. Unfortunately, what should have been a beautiful, carefree day on the water can turn tragic when boaters become careless or reckless. The Pembroke Pines boating accident attorneys at Cohn & Smith are here to help individuals in the Pembroke Pines area and beyond explore their legal options after a boat crash.Seeking Compensation after a Boating Accident
Recent statistics from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Division of Law Enforcement indicate that there are as many as 700 reportable boating accidents each year. To be “reportable,” an accident must involve a death, disappearance, injury requiring medical treatment beyond immediate first aid, $2,000 or more in property damage, or the total loss of a vessel.
Considering that there are nearly 900,000 registered vessels in the state and probably as many more non-registered vehicles in a particular year, boating is a relatively safe activity. However, given that one in 12 boating accidents involves a fatality, it is clear that boating accidents, when they do occur, can be have serious consequences. They arise from many of the same causes as car and truck crashes, including excessive speed, failure to yield, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and distracted driving.
When an accident does occur, an injured person may file suit against the party who caused the harm. In cases involving death, the family of the victim may file a wrongful death case. In either event, the claim will be governed by the principles of negligence, which create a four-step process for asserting a claim against a careless or reckless person or business:
- Did the defendant owe the plaintiff a legal duty of care?
- If so, did the defendant breach that duty by a wrongful action or by failing to do something that was affirmatively required under the circumstances?
- If there was a breached duty, were the plaintiff’s injuries proximately caused by the breach of duty by the defendant?
- Did the plaintiff suffer actual damages?
If the answer to all four questions is “yes,” the plaintiff may be able to recover a money judgment against the defendant to compensate him or her for the injuries sustained in the accident. The amount of the judgment will vary from case to case. Some of the more common elements of damages tend to include pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and property damage.
Family members of those killed by another’s wrongful conduct may also seek compensation for the loss of their loved one’s support and services, as well as funeral costs, burial expenses, and the payment of medical bills that their loved one incurred prior to his or her death. In cases in which the defendant’s conduct went beyond mere negligence and rose to an egregious or willful level, a plaintiff can also request punitive damages. It will be up to the court to decide the availability and amount of any damages unless the parties reach a mutually agreeable settlement of the claim. If the party seeking to recover damages was also partially at fault in the accident, the defendant can request a proportionate reduction in damages under Florida’s pure comparative fault law.Consult an Experienced Boating Accident Lawyer in Pembroke Pines
Those who are considering bringing suit to seek damages for a Florida boating accident should be mindful that the general statute of limitations is four years. However, in cases of wrongful death, the deceased person’s family only has two years to file a lawsuit, or else their claim usually will be considered time-barred. The personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Cohn & Smith have helped many Pembroke Pines residents and other accident victims throughout Florida pursue fair and adequate compensation for their injuries. To speak with one of our Pembroke Pines boating accident lawyers, call us at (954) 431-8100 and request a free initial consultation. If you prefer, you can contact us online. We represent individuals and families in communities such as Sunrise, Tamarac, and Pompano Beach.