Leading Causes of Boating Accidents in Florida

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According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, these are the causes of most boating accidents in Florida:

  • Collision with a vessel: 205 accidents (28%)
  • Paddlecraft (canoes, kayaks, rowboats, paddleboards): 21 accidents
  • Towed watersport activities: 9 accidents

What is the leading cause of death in Florida boating accidents?

  • Falls overboard (40% of the cases)
  • Alcohol or drug use (32% of the accidents)

The following scenarios are some of the hazards created by alcohol-inhibited boaters:

  • Increased risk of passengers falling overboard in the event of a crash
  • Unexpected waves that endanger other boats and cause them to flip
  • A reduced amount of time that a boater has to react to changes or the presence of people in the water

Other common causes of boating accidents include:

  • Machinery failure
  • Operator inattention
  • Occupant behavior
  • Weather conditions
  • No proper lookout
  • Operator inexperience

Over the course of just one year, in Florida, there were 58 fatal accidents resulting in 65 fatalities. Most of these accidents occurred during cruising. The victims' primary cause of death was drowning after succumbing to injuries (66% of the cases). Most of the vessel operators were males aged 51+, while 57% of the operators had no boater education.

If you were involved in a boating accident that ended in serious injuries or took lives, what you need to know is:

  • When a boater or swimmer is hurt in a boating accident that was not their fault, they may have legal rights, and a full investigation is required
  • An experienced boating attorney can assist in discovering the facts and circumstances that can prove whether the damages were caused by negligence
  • If it turns out that the incident was a preventable one, the negligent parties can and should be held accountable for the consequences, including wrongful death

Are Florida Waters Dangerous?

Florida is home to vast bodies of water available in the form of lakes, rivers, and oceans that residents can navigate. Every year, the state draws millions of visitors that come to be on the water. Numbers support the theory that this is a boater's paradise, but another series of numbers spell "boater beware." Even the most experienced boater can find that navigating Florida's shallow waters is a challenge.

Here is a list of recent boating accidents that took place in Florida:

  • Falls overboard:

    • In a boating accident off the shore of Davis Islands at a channel intersection, a 15-foot fiberglass canoe traveling at a fast speed crashed into a nearby pole. A man was ejected from the boat while a woman remained in the vessel but the boat continued to travel in circles. Instead of stopping the engine, the woman hopped out of the boat and was subsequently struck in the head. Both passengers were taken to the hospital where the woman recovered but, sadly, the man died from his injuries.
    • A man was suddenly ejected from his 17-foot Aquasport boat by the Panama City Marina. The unmanned craft kept circling him and struck him each time it went through. The man was taken to the hospital with severe and life-threatening injuries, but within a few hours, he was pronounced dead.
    • In Bradenton, an 85-year-old man was working on his boat when he sustained a serious fall in the water. Witnesses tried to pull him out; sadly, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
  • Boat collisions with fixed objects:

    • A man was hospitalized for suffering head and arm injuries after he was injured when his boat crashed with a channel marker north of Tavernier Creek.
    • A man died in a boating accident on the Ochlocknee River in Tallahassee. He was operating a 14-foot boat with two passengers when the boat struck an object submerged in the water. The operator suffered serious injuries and, sadly, was declared deceased upon the emergency personnel's arrival.
    • A woman died in a boat crash in the Florida Keys. She was one of four people who were on an 18-foot Maverick boat that hit a group of mangrove trees near the Whale Harbor Channel.
  • Kayaking accident:

    • A man and his family were taking turns practicing their kayaking techniques on the Sequatchie River. The man started to paddle toward a low-head dam when the water from the dam overturned his kayak, and the strong current pulled him under. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
    • A Florida man was in a kayak that suddenly capsized on the river and pulled him underneath. The man lost his life.
    • A Florida man died in an accident after his kayak overturned on the river in a place where there were many rapids.

Boating Accidents: A Year-Round Threat in Florida

Boating and other maritime activities carry serious, potentially life-threatening consequences if those in and on the water do not take proper safety precautions. Historically, Monroe County, which essentially is the Florida Keys, reports the highest number of accidents and injuries. May is the month with the highest number of accidents, and October is the deadliest month.

Below we look at other tragic boating accidents that occurred on Florida waterways recently:

  • Boat capsize:

    • In a boating accident on Davis Islands, a boat carrying six people capsized and was filled with water within two minutes. The passengers had no choice but to swim. They all managed to hang onto a buoy in Hillsborough Bay, but a 57-year-old man died because he was unable to hold on any longer and drowned.
    • Four people were injured in Sarasota Bay after their speedboat crashed and capsized.
    • A longtime powerboat racer died from injuries, and two other people were injured after his 50-foot powerboat heading south on the bayside of Marathon flipped over and crashed.
  • Motorboat propeller injuries:

    • A teen girl was deadly injured after being hit by a boat propeller in a Florida Keys boating accident.
    • A local student was killed in an unfortunate boating accident at Lido Key Beach in Sarasota. The young woman was swimming in the water off the beach when a pontoon boat entered the water, and she was struck in the head by the boat propeller.
    • A 15-year-old boy died after a boat propeller struck him. The boy was swimming in a channel between the Cudjoe Key and Summerland Key when the incident occurred. Sadly, he was pronounced dead, having suffered a cardiac arrest.
  • Head-on boat crash:

    • In an accident that happened in Edgewater on the Intracoastal waterway, FWC found that a woman and a man were in a ship, heading north in an old channel, when they met another boat. Both boats tried to turn east at the last minute, but it was not enough to stop them from hitting one another. The woman in the first boat received serious injuries, while the man was injured and died at the scene of the accident.
    • A power racing accident happened in Jacksonville when two boats collided, and one overturned, killing a firefighter and injuring three others. The crash occurred on the St. John's River, where the boats were competing in a championship contest.
  • Boat fire: In Pasco County, engine problems on board a casino shuttle boat led the captain to turn it around and head back to the dock; however, the boat went up in flames. About 50 people, passengers, and crew had to jump into the chilly waters to safety. One woman died following the incident.

As the statistics show, most boating accident causes are preventable, meaning, usually, there is a party that can be held responsible for the crash.

However, the cause of the crash might not always be obvious. At The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary, our Miami personal injury attorney has the necessary skills and experience to investigate boating accidents and determine liability.

Injuries and fatalities can change and overwhelm your life in many ways in light of a serious accident. We know this and we know there is a good chance you'll be eligible to recover damages for your injuries. We can present you with the ins and outs of boat accidents and help in your time of need. Contact us as soon as possible and we'll do our best to limit your losses and help you move on with your life.

Injured in a Florida Boating Accident? Contact The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary

Boating accidents happen in Florida for a variety of reasons. Every year, people get injured and lose their lives on boats, and we want you to understand you have rights if you have been injured or if loved ones lost their lives in boating accidents.

Boat crashes can be a terrifying experience. Official investigations are performed following every serious boating accident, but you might need more than that.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a negligent boating accident, our legal team will advise you of your rights and help you understand all of your options.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.