Experienced Tampa Boat Accident Attorney Pursues Compensation for Maritime Injuries

Holding owners and operators of vessels liable for negligence

At the Law Offices of Bill Dickey, P.A., we help people in the Tampa Bay area seek the compensation they need to recoup their damages for injuries in watercraft accidents, including medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Established in 1991, our firm investigates water accidents involving a variety of vessels, ranging from jet skis to tour boats. In determining which party may be liable for an accident, we also evaluate whether boat operators — both individuals and commercial entities — acted negligently or in violation of licensing requirements.

Tampa Bay attorney knowledgeable about causes of boat accidents

Boating accidents can occur for a number of reasons, some of the most common being:

  • Operator error, inexperience, and inattention Boat operators should be adequately instructed and ready to react to any hazards they encounter. When commercial boat operators are inadequately trained, the parent company could be liable for any injuries they cause to others.
  • Operator under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances Boating under the influence occurs when a boater’s blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent or greater, but arresting officers can also charge BUI for BAC levels below the legal limit if they believe the operator’s faculties are impaired.
  • Defective boat or component parts Under product liability law, manufacturers and distributors of defective products that causes equipment failure or malfunctions may be held responsible for the damages incurred by victims.
  • Excessive speed Speeding in a boat can be especially dangerous because it can create hazardous wakes, boat collisions or running the boat aground.
  • Disregarding dangerous waters and weather conditions Boat operators or commercial boating companies who fail to heed weather warnings may be liable for their negligence if others are injured as a result.

Important safety measures for boaters include paying attention to weather conditions; conducting regular boat maintenance, inspection and repairs; avoiding boating under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances; carrying necessary safety equipment and designating an assistant skipper on board who has boating experience.

Resourceful Tampa Bay boat accident lawyer familiar with all types of vessels

Boat accidents can involve a wide range of vessels, from jet skis to cruise ships, and the types of watercraft involved in an accident can impact how a court apportions liability for a victim’s damages.

  • Jet skis, which are called personal watercraft under Florida law, can be especially dangerous, since victims are often not wearing protective gear and have little to nothing between them and hazardous waters or oncoming vessels.
  • Sail boats can succumb to rough seas, especially if the boat malfunctions in some way, such as when a rudder fails.
  • Tour boats may be unsafe when operated by inexperienced drivers or when tour boat companies ignore weather conditions or fail to regularly inspect and repair their vessels.
  • Yachts are at particular risk for striking rocks, capsizing and running aground

Whatever type of watercraft you suffered injury aboard, our firm can investigate which party may be liable for your damages.

Skilled Clearwater attorney familiar with limited liability in jet ski claims

Because jet skis are so common among inexperienced tourists and are often misused, Florida has taken steps to carve out special negligence rules for jet ski accidents. Under these rules, victims may be able to recover compensation only in “limited” situations where it can be established that the rental company or owner of the jet ski knew or should have known that a hazard under their control existed and they failed to remedy the danger.

Standard liability release forms can also hinder a victim’s ability to seek compensation for jet ski injuries, but these forms do not automatically bar recovery altogether. Victims may still be able to recover compensation if they received inadequate instruction for how to safely operate the jet ski or if the jet ski itself was in poor operating condition.

Knowing the rules for licensing and education for Florida boat operation

Florida’s boating license regulations are considered relatively relaxed in comparison with some other states, but licenses are required for certain types of vessel operators.

A U.S. Coast Guard -approved Captain’s License is required to operate fishing boats, sailing charters, dive boats or give sightseeing tours involving so-called uninspected passenger vessels. Operating an inspected passenger vessel, like a ferry or harbor tour boat, requires a higher level Master License.

In order to qualify for a captain’s License, an operator must apply through the National Maritime Center, complete a boat safety course or maritime test, pass a physical and drug screening, undergo a background screening and be granted identification credentials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Seasoned boat injury lawyer experienced with Florida no wake zones

Florida no-wake, idle-speed and slow-speed zones require restricted boat speed for a number of reasons: to protect wildlife and manatees, to preserve the coastline from erosion and to protect swimmers and to promote boat safety. Under Florida law, minimal wake speed is defined as being “fully settled in the water.” When a boat operator causes a wake, however inadvertently, that capsizes other vessel and leads to injuries, they could be at risk for liability for the victims’ damages. This is true even when the boat is not actually ticketed for causing a wake, provided that causation of the injury is established.

Consult an experienced Tampa Bay boat accident law firm to set up your free initial consultation

Boat accident injuries can present complex legal challenges, but our skilled personal injury firm will fight to obtain the compensation you deserve. To schedule your free initial consultation at our Tampa or Clearwater office, call the Law Offices of Bill Dickey, P.A. at 813-835-3800 or contact us online.