Before you head out on the water in Miami, there are some safety concepts you should consider first, especially if you are operating a personal watercraft or PWC. A personal watercraft is a motorboat less than 16 feet in length, powered by a jet pump instead of a propeller and on which the operator stands, kneels, or sits.
If it sounds familiar, you may know this watercraft by its more common names, like jet ski, ski-doo, and WaveRunner. Riding a PWC can be an exhilarating experience, but it can also be dangerous.
Inexperienced or inebriated operators can find themselves in jet ski accidents with one wrong move, as in the cases presented below:
Jet Ski Accidents in Florida
- Panama City Beach - Fatal Jet Ski Accident Kills Little Rock Man: A 25-year-old man was vacationing in Florida at the time of the crash. While he was riding on a PWC, he collided head-on with a boat and died. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers came to the scene and said that the man and his friends rented the jet skis from Treasure Island Marina and were trying to ride in the area of the Grand Lagoon when the accident occurred. The man had been heading toward a boat that delivers bait to fishing boats. This caused him to crash, where he fell into the water along with another man who was on the boat. They were pulled out of the water, and several people tried to save his life with CPR but were unable to do so. The man was dead by the time he made it to the hospital.
- Tampa - Two Jet-Ski Riders Killed in Crash: A 42-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman lost their lives in a jet ski accident that took place off the Courtney Campbell Causeway. They were taken to the hospital promptly. The man was pronounced dead there, while the woman died later due to her severe injuries. The man was recklessly operating his jet ski, which caused the accident. The leading causes of jet ski accidents are collisions with other jet skis and collisions with fixed objects.
Florida Regulations for Operating Jet Skis
Before you take off for a quick spin around the lake in your jet ski, here are some factors to consider about the Florida laws concerning the operation of PWC:
- Education Requirements: Florida requires that anyone operating a personal watercraft have a Florida Boating Safety Education I.D. A card issued by the FWC or otherwise be accompanied, onboard, by someone age at least 18 who has an approved boating safety certificate. When operating a PWC, you must carry your boating safety certificate with you at all times.
- Minimum Age for Operation: The operator of a jet ski in the state of Florida has to hold an approved boating safety certificate and also be at least 14 years old. Concerning riding onboard a jet ski, be sure that small children do not ride in front of the operator of the craft. While the PWC is moving, it is also important to ensure that everybody can keep both feet on the deck to maintain their balance.
- Jet ski operation is prohibited between one half-hour after sunset to one half-hour before sunrise.
- It is illegal to jump the wake of another vessel, weaving your jet ski through congested traffic, or playing chicken. It's unsafe not only to you, but it also endangers other boaters in your area.
Required Equipment: You are legally required to have:
- One Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, or III Personal Flotation Device (PFD) (required to be worn by all persons). While it is not needed, it is wise to wear orange or another bright-colored PFD for better visibility from larger boats.
- Fire Extinguisher
- Visual Distress Signals
- Sound Producing Device
- Backfire Flame Arrestor
- Ventilation System
- Boat Lighting Equipment
- Eye Wear - goggles or sunglasses
- Wet Suit
- Practical Footwear
- Renting a PWC: You must be at least 18 years old and have proof of completion of an approved boating safety course to rent a personal watercraft. The rental operator must show you correct operating procedures and proper use of safety equipment after you show your ID and proof of age.
Contact a Miami Jet Ski Accident Lawyer
Before you operate a personal watercraft on your own, make sure that you understand how your watercraft works by going for a ride with an experienced operator.
Once you get the hang of operating a PWC, you are sure to have fun as long as you stay safe.
If you have lost a loved one or have suffered serious injuries in a Miami boating accident, we extend our sincere condolences to you and your family. If someone's reckless actions led to your accident and injuries, you have options. We can help every step of the way when it comes to your jet ski accident case.