According to the Florida Statutes Ch. 327 and Ch. 328, and as of September 2014, for any victim of a boating accident to be eligible to file a law suit and receive compensation for the injuries sustained and the pain and suffering from the accident, they:
- Must report the accident by the quickest means possible to either the Wildlife Conservation Commission, or the sheriff of the county, or the chief of police of the city in which the accident occurred.
- Must include in the report reasons that justify any claim of compensation like personal injuries, death, damages to the vessel itself or any other vessel, and damages to property.
If the victim has relevant knowledge, the report may include any other violations of the law such as:
- The boat operator left the scene of the accident before providing every possible aid to the injured victims and / or without proceeding to all necessary arrangements so that the accident is reported to the appropriate authorities.
- The boat operator operated the vessel disregarding the safety of persons or property and did so willfully.
- The boat operator exceeded the speed limits in the “Idle Speed – No Wake” or “Slow Down – Minimum Wake” zones.
- The boat operator reached speeds that the boat’s wake was dangerous to other vessels or people.
If the claimant has no knowledge, or did not include in the accident report any of the later violations, the attorney that undertakes their representation must uncover and prove through relevant evidence any such violations through the accident investigation that will be launched.
For the victim of a boating accident to receive compensation for his injuries and the pain and suffering, they must prove third party liability. The representing attorney must establish this liability, either through the aforementioned investigation, or through other violations that occurred and may have had to do with faulty maintenance of the vessel, design or manufacturing defects, or acts of neglect from either the boat operator, the boat owner or the boat renter.
It may also be necessary to circumvent complicated legal issues like limited liability (which occurs when the operator, owner, or renter, could not reasonably have knowledge of possible defects, or there were circumstances surrounding the accident that were beyond their control), or through signed liability waivers.
In any case, any victim seeking compensation from a boating accident, should contact an experienced and knowledgeable lay firm like Singer & O’ Neil who have successfully fought similar cases.