Miami Boat Accident Attorney
In many boating accident cases, time is of the essence. Not only are there time limits to file a report if an accident has occurred, but claims filed as a result of the accident are time-restricted. If you’ve been a victim of a boating accident, don’t wait. Contact a Miami boat accident lawyer today to review your options and determine whether you have a case.
Experienced Boat Accident and Injury Representation
As a former Traffic Hearing Officer, Karen Callejo has a detailed understanding of traffic laws that govern all kinds of motor vehicles. She has also represented many different types of clients in her over 25 years of experience as an attorney. Her tenure at a large Miami-based insurance company defense firm gave her valuable knowledge that she now uses for her own personal injury and workers’ compensation clients.
Karen Callejo is committed to giving her clients personalized attention. She strives to maintain a caring and transparent relationship with those she represents from her office in Coral Gables. She is also fluent in Spanish and has experience working with both immigrants and citizens in Miami, Florida.
Common Causes of Boating Accidents
There are many reasons for why boating accidents occur, including:
- BUIs: Boating under the influence is illegal, but that doesn’t stop some boat operators. Most deaths due to boating accidents involve boating operators consuming alcohol while controlling the boat.
- Arrogance: Driving on the open water is quite different from driving on the road with countless other cars. Many boaters do not realize how important traffic rules are until experiencing a collision.
- Sharp Turns: Boats are much larger than cars and other vehicles, which means the inertia generated from a large turn can be much more dangerous. This is exacerbated by a boat’s lack of seatbelts. If a boat has to turn suddenly, its passengers can be tossed around, leading to injury or even death. A passenger could even be thrown into the water, which can be dangerous without the proper safety equipment.
- Lack of Safety Equipment: A boat needs proper safety equipment in order to keep its passengers safe. Life jackets and other equipment are crucial for passengers thrown overboard. Even if they are good swimmers, they might receive injuries that can affect their ability to swim. Weather conditions can also impact the safety of a passenger tossed into the water.
- Lack of Training: While basic safety training is required for a boating license, many operators do not receive this training or do not utilize it while operating a boat. Unfortunately, lack of safety training directly correlates to the number of injuries and fatalities that occur on boats.
- Distractions: Just like with driving a car, a boat operator can be distracted by events going on in the boat and not pay attention to what’s going on in the water. Things like cell phones, socializing with passengers, eating and drinking, or even leaving the wheel for a bathroom break can result in dangerous consequences for the boat and its passengers.
- Injuries on Deck: Even if a collision does not occur, there are countless other accidents that can occur on boats. The most common accidents that occur on boats are slip and fall accidents due to improperly maintained floors, food poisoning due to unsafe food storage, and violence or sexual assault from a crew member.
- Dock Accidents: Not every boating accident occurs on the water. Many accidents occur while the boat is being prepared to launch. Boat ramps are notorious for accidents if they are not properly maintained. Injuries occurring at a marina or dock might be the responsibility of the owner of the property.
- Employees: Many employees, including fishermen, shipbuilders, repair technicians, and oil and gas rig employees, are on boats quite often while at work. Although they do not qualify for traditional workers’ compensation, they might apply for damages from either the Jones Act or the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, depending on how much time they spend on a boat during the workday.
- Issues With the Boat: Sometimes, a boat malfunctions on the water in a way that harms its passengers. If the boat was properly maintained and still malfunctioned, the owner might be able to file a claim against the manufacturer due to a product defect. These cases are extremely difficult and require a large amount of evidence to prove, so it is important to contact a product liability attorney as soon as possible in these situations.
- Negligence: A boat operator is expected to act in a way that is appropriate based on the context of the situation. Needlessly reckless actions like aggressively hitting waves, driving too close to the shoreline, or purposefully crashing into other objects on the water could all be considered negligent actions when operating a boat.
If you or a loved one were injured or killed on a boat due to lack of safety training, lack of safety equipment, or boating under the influence, a boating injury attorney in Miami, FL, can help.
Why Do I Need a Boat Injury Attorney in Miami, FL?
Unlike car accidents, boating accidents are usually much more serious. They can result in more serious personal injuries and large amounts of property damage. Injuries sustained during boating accidents can take much more time to recover from, which can affect your earnings, medical expenses, and mental health. Working with a boating accident attorney can help you recover the damages you deserve.
There are many things that can go wrong on a boat. Some of these issues are mostly accidental, but many issues that occur are the direct fault of a boat operator. There are also others that might be at fault depending on where the accident occurred. Seeking legal counsel can provide you with answers on who to file a claim against and how much in damages you might expect to receive.
Common Injuries in Boating Accidents
Collisions with motorized boats can often leave passengers with a variety of injuries, including:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries: Common symptoms of traumatic brain injuries include losing consciousness, memory loss, numbness in limbs, vision issues, excessive fatigue, and nausea. Traumatic brain injuries can cause problems if not treated as soon as possible, which is why it is so important to receive a medical examination shortly after a boating accident.
- Broken Bones: A broken bone might not feel as serious at the scene of the accident but can be quite painful once the adrenaline wears off. Broken bones take a significant time to heal, which could lead to lost wages or mental anguish.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Boating accidents can lead to damaging nerves or vertebrae in the spine, which can prevent an individual from feeling body parts below the part of the body where the spine was injured. These are often extremely serious events and can lead to permanent damage if not addressed immediately.
Even if you do not feel injured at the scene of the accident, it might be a good idea to visit the emergency room or get a medical examination in the days following the accident. Some injuries do not reveal themselves until hours or days after the initial impact.
What Do I Do After a Boating Accident?
If you have just been involved in a boating accident, the most important thing to do is to stay calm so that you can make the right decisions. Here are some of the most pressing issues to take care of as soon as an accident occurs:
- Contact Emergency Services: If anyone is injured, missing, or in danger, call 911 immediately. If it was a minor accident, call the local police department or sheriff’s office. If no one has a phone on the boat, try flagging down another boat or people on shore for help. You can also use the boat’s radio if it is still functional. In an emergency, flares can be used at night.
- Don’t Leave the Scene: It can be tempting to leave the scene of the accident to find safety or look for help, but everyone should stay in the boat, if possible until the police arrive. The boat operator must stop the boat and move it out of the way of other boats on the water. They must also call the Coast Guard as soon as possible to inform them of the accident.
- Document Evidence: Take photos of the accident scene, including the boat and the damage it might have caused. Evidence of physical damage might be helpful in a personal injury claim. If possible, get the name and contact information of the boat operator as well as any property owners whose property was damaged or any other boat operators involved in the accident.
- File a Report: The boat operator must file a report if anyone on the boat was injured past the point of first aid, died, or was thrown overboard and has not been found. A report is also required if the accident caused more than $2000 in property damage or if the boat was totaled as a result of the accident. Generally, the penalty for not filing a report is worse than filing a report when it is not required.
- Review Your Legal Options: If your boat collided with another boat being driven by a negligent boat operator, you might be able to file a claim against them for property damage due to the accident. If you or a loved one were a passenger on a boat and were injured due to the operator’s negligence, you might be able to file a personal injury claim against them.
The most important thing to address in any boating accident is medical treatment. Ensuring that everyone needing medical attention is taken care of as soon as possible after the accident is crucial.
Miami Boat Accident FAQs
Q: Who Do I Report a Boating Accident to in Miami, FL?
A: If a boating accident occurs in Miami, resulting in injuries, death, or property damage, the operator of the boat must contact law enforcement. The operator may call The Division of Law Enforcement of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by dialing *FWC. They may also contact a county sheriff or police department in the county or city where the accident occurred. The operator must also attempt to aid any victims of the accident.
Q: What Must You Do Before Leaving a Boating Accident in Florida?
A: If anyone on the boat or at the scene needs medical attention, dial 911 as soon as possible after the accident occurs. Calling the local sheriff or police department will suffice if there are no serious injuries or damage. It is also important to document the scene of the accident by taking pictures of the crash. Make sure to get the information of anyone else involved in the collision, whether it is another boater, a property owner, or someone else.
Q: How Do You Respond to a Miami Boating Accident?
A: It is important to remain calm after a boating accident and make sure that anyone needing medical attention receives appropriate care. It might also be a good idea to receive a medical examination even if you do not feel hurt after the accident because some injuries take several hours or days to reveal themselves. If someone was injured, the operator only has 48 hours to file a report, but they have ten days if there is only damage to property.
Q: How Much Does an Attorney Charge for a Boat Accident in Miami?
A: Specific attorney costs in Florida depend on the location, the attorney’s experience level, and the nature of your individual case. Most vehicle accident attorneys in Florida charge a contingency fee. This means that you are only responsible for paying your attorney if they recover damages for you. This contingency fee is typically 33% of the overall winnings, but this rate could increase if your claim goes to court.
Boating Injury Attorney, Miami, FL
There are still actions you can take after reporting your boating accident to the relevant authorities. Filing a personal injury claim can help you recover damages for things like medical expenses, lost wages, and mental anguish. To learn more about how an attorney can help with your boating accident claim, schedule a consultation with Callejo Law today.