Articles Posted in Boating Accidents

Cruise-Ship-Injuries-Blue-150x150Cruise ship companies like Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and other carriers market to and welcome children as guests on the ship for both short and long term trips.  As such, cruise ships should be constructed and maintained in a reasonable manner that under maritime law.  The cruise ship operator had a duty to remove or limit hazards and to put reasonable necessary safety measures for both children and adults.  All interior and exterior passageways should be constructed and maintained according to applicable ship, building, and safety codes.  When an adult or child is injured as a passenger on a cruise ship, the cruise ship line, company, or operator is not automatically or strictly liability. There must be a showing of fault or liability for the incident at issue. This is commonly referred to as negligence which requires the proof or showing of four elements to establish a legal case or claim:  Duty, Breach of Duty, Causation, and Damages.

It was recently reported by a number of media outlets that an eight year old girl who was a passenger on the ship – Glory – operated by Carnival Cruise Lines fell approximately 20 feet while inside the atrium area of the boat. It was reported that the medical team for the ship was soon thereafter on the scene to attend to the child. The incident took place while the ship was docked at the Port of Miami.  Since a serious injury occurred in the form of a death, there will be a full investigation by government authorities as well as an autopsy.  Concurrent or subsequent to the criminal investigation, there can also be an investigation by the family, private investigators, engineers, and, yes, a legal team hired by the family of the child.  Again, it should be noted that a cruise ship is not automatically liable for every single injury or death that occurs on a boat. Negligence or fault must be established to support a civil case or claim if one is pursued by the family of the child. You can read more about the Carnival Cruise Lines incident involving the 8 year old girl who fell at Girl as a Result of Fall at Port of Miami – Carnival Cruise Lines. 

It should be noted that cruise ship legal cases are much different than other types of injury cases like ones involving an automobile accident or a slip and fall while at a store or shopping center while on land.  The cruise line ticket can define and control time limits and court or forum choices for a legal case.  In addition, there are strict time limits by law for cruise ship / maritine cases.

Boat Silhouette.001Florida is well known for its waterways, oceans, lakes, canals, rivers, coasts, and other aquatic areas. With a flurry of boating activity year round and more so over the summer, Florida is also the location or site for boating accidents causing personal injuries to children, teens, adults, and seniors. Florida has laws in place that cover the use and operation of a boat or vessel. Just because a boat owner / operator is out on the water, there is no freedom per se to act negligently, carelessly, or recklessly just because you are off the land and seem to be away from civilization.   Section 327.33, Florida Statutes provides as follows:
It is unlawful to operate a vessel in a reckless manner. A person is guilty of reckless operation of a vessel who operates any vessel, or manipulates any water skis, aqua plane, or similar decide, in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property at a speed or in a manner as to endanger, or likely to endanger, life or limb, or damage the property of, or injury any person.
Florida law under Section 327.33, Florida Statutes further provides that:

Boat Wheel - Personal InjuryIn States like Florida, California, Georgia, Hawaii, and Texas among others, boating is a year round activity.  The warm weather and abundance of waterways and surrounding lakes, rivers, ponds, canals, and oceans provide a welcoming enviornment for those seeking to boat, fish, swim, water ski, and otherwise enjoy the day.   While boating can be great fun, it can also be dangerous for teens and children especially those who are not properly supervised and / or do not understand or follow basic safety measures.   There are just too many risks associated with boating to hand over the full responsibility to a teen or child.  Adult supervision is key to preventing injuries including those related to drowning or near drowning incidents.  This is especially true when there is bad weather, rough waters, or other conditions that lead to a capsizing incident.   It takes a certainly maturity, strength, and experience to properly react when there is an emergency.  Because of this, it makes it even more important to have adult supervision during any boating activity.  A teen or child may be a champion boater or swimmer.  Even for these talented and strong individuals, a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket should be worn at all times during boating related activities.  It may not be cool or comfortable to wear a life jacket but this one basic safety precaution can and does save lives.
Even with adult supervision, education is key to prevent injuries and drowning incidents for teens and children.  The captain / owner of the boat should carefully explain the rules and safety precautions to be followed while on the boat.   If a child is going to regularly be a guest on a boat, it may make sense for the child to attend a boating course. Of course, being able to swim is important as well.  If a child or teen is going out on a boat, it is better if the child or teen can swim.  If not, extra care should be taken to the extent possible to watch over and supervise the child while engaged in boating related activities.
If a child or teen is injured or drowns during boating related activities, is the boat owner liable for such injuries or the death of the child?  Well, like most legal issues, it will depend on the particular facts and circumstances of the incident.  Let’s take an example.   Let’s say a 12 year old friend of the boat owner’s son goes out on the boat for a day of fishing.   The boat owner allows his son to take out the boat.  There is no adult supervision in place.   The boat owner does not contact the parents of the 12 year old for permission to have the child out on the boat.  The boat is not equipped with life jackets.  The two boys go out for a leisurely day of fishing.   Rough weather ended up capsizing the small boat and the 12 year old drowned.   The boat owner’s son was later rescued by the Coast Guard.  Had the 12 year old been wearing a life jacket, the drowning would most likely have been avoided.  Under these facts, there can be a claim or case on behalf of the estate of the deceased child due to the negligence of the boat owner. It should be noted that each case or incident should be evaluated on its own facts and merits.  Let’s take another example.  A 17 year old boy is invited as a guest on a neighbor’s boat with the permission of his parents.   While on the boat, the 17 year old got drunk with alcohol he brought with him from his own house.  While horsing around on the boat, the 17 year old slips off the boat.  Just prior to falling off the boat, he was wearing a life jacket but decided it would be cooler to go without the life jacket.  The boat owner was on the boat at the time and otherwise providing reasonable supervision of the 17 year old and the other teens on the boat.  Under this fact pattern, it may be difficult to pursue a case on the theory that the boat owner was negligent in some manner.  The 17 year old hid the alcohol by pouring it into a soda bottle.  Furthermore, the 17 year old disobeyed clear instructions to keep his life jacket on and to otherwise behalf while on the boat.  Of course, more facts will need to be determined to better analyze the potential liability (if any) of a case or claim of this nature. It should be noted that in the State of Florida – a child under the age of 6 years old cannot be held to be comparatively at fault in any manner.  As such, any child 6 years of age or older can be held comparatively at fault.  Seeing that the actions of a 17 year old are being considered, it is quite possible that 100 % or nearly 100 % of fault may be assessed against the 17 year old.

boating%20accident%20life%20preserver%20red%20and%20white.jpg

Parents are faced with many challenges in dealing with the Florida wrongful death of a child. The death of a child is typically unexpected and a total shock to the family. Family and friend support are vital when a child dies. The support of the family’s church / religious institution can also be comforting. While legal issues are not the first to come to mind, many parents are in need of solid legal advice when a child suffers a personal injury or dies as the result of the negligence of another person, property owner, or business. A Florida child injury lawyer can answer many questions that arise when a child is hurt. In addition, there are books and other resources out there for parents including the book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know. The book has chapters on Medical Bills / Medical Treatment, Damages / Compensation, Swimming and Water Related Injuries, and other topics. See Free Book for Parents Dealing with an Unexpected Child Injury.

imagesCAGC6DIY.jpgAccording to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation 2010 Boating Accidents Statistical Report, there were 668 boating accidents and 79 boating related fatalities. Many of these deaths and injuries incurred were due to victims falling overboard and drowning.

For example, a 13 year-old boy suffered facial injuries from a boat’s propellers in Jacksonville, Florida. The boy was operating the boat in a Ponte Vedra waterway. The teenager lost control of the boat and either fell out or jumped into a canal located near Granada Lane, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife investigators. The boat’s propellers struck the boy in the face when he was in the water. He was air-lifted to Shands Jacksonville for treatment according to First Coast News.

The State of Florida has taken the initiative to educate boaters about boating accident prevention. The FWC, in conjunction with the National Safe Boating Council, Bombardier Recreational Products, Inc., West Marine, the U.S. Coast Guard and others have launched a statewide safety campaign for boaters called the “Wear It Florida.” This campaign encourages boaters to wear life safety jackets anytime they are on the water, and educates boaters about the convenience of the generally unknown inflatable life jackets. The FCW is a firm believer that many boating fatalities can be prevented by the use of wearing a life jacket.

boating%20life%20jacket%20drowning%20orange.jpg

When boating, all children should be fitted with life preservers and life jackets. This general rule also applies to all adults. The simple act of wearing a life jacket can save a life or at least reduce the risks of drowning. A tragic story was recently reported by the Orlando Sentinel. A man died of an apparent accidental drowning while he was canoeing with his nephew. You can read more about this story at Canoe flips, man dies in apparent accidental drowning near Ocala.

While the wearing of a life jacket may be uncomfortable or an inconvenience, it can save lives of those wearing them. In addition, many lives have been lost through the years of those who have gone into the water in an attempt to save a person who was not wearing a life jacket. Before boating, make sure that all the appropriate equipment is available and in good repair for all boaters.

You can read more about Swimming, Water Park, and Water Way Injuries and other child injuries in the book – “>The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child What Every Parent Should Know. You can receive a free copy of this book by clicking here.

boating%20accident.jpgThe death of an 11-year-old For Myers boy, Michael Duda, was confirmed by The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Duda apparently died after he feel off a boat near Plantation Key. Investigators say Duda was riding in the 17-foot boat when the operator mae a sharp turn, throwing Duda overboard and causing him to be struck by an oncoming vessel. Apparently, the operator of the vessel was 16-year-old at the time of the accident. Neither he nor two other passengers were injured.

No charges have been filed. If you would like to read more about this unfortunate story see 11-year-old Fort Myers boy dies after thrown from boat.

166685_in_control.jpg

In Florida, boating is an activity and hobby enjoyed by many people. Unfortunately with many outdoor activities like boating, there are dangers and risks that can lead to serious personal injuries, and in come cases death. One risk associated with boating activies is related to carbon monoxide poisoning. Boats with cabins and sleeping quarters are often times equipped with a generator to power the boats electricity and air conditioning unit. A properly maintained and installed generator that is positioned correctly on the boat can provide boat owners and guests with the comforts and convenience provided by electricity and air conditioning while docked or anchored offshore. An improperly installed and/or malfunctioning generator can actually cause personal injuries and, in fact, can lead to the death of an unknowing occupant of the boat. The Associated Press reported that a couple (Sandra Lupton and Howard Lupton) died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning in the sleeping quarters/cabin of a Baja Cruiser (29 foot). The couple’s boat was anchored offshore at Ponce Inlet (disappearing island). Tragically, the couple was discovered by their son. You can read more about this story at Florida Medical Examiner reports that Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Caused Death of Boaters from Palatka Florida.

It is expected that an investigation will be conducted as to the equipment and maintenance on this boat and what steps, if any, could have been taken to avoid this most unfortunate tragedy. this story shows the importance of boating safety as to all aspects of the boat, including but not limited to, the generator and electrical system.

parasail.jpgTwo children were injured in Destin, Florida after a line broke on a parasail. At the time of the incident, the parasail boat was being towed in due to bad weather. The children sustained minor injured and were taken to a hospital in Pensacola, Florida. The incident is being investigated to determine if charges will be brought.

An accident like this raises many legal issues:

What was the business’s procedures for bad weather?

boating%20life%20jacket%20drowning%20orange.jpg

In Florida and other states with waterways and boaters, safety should be a primary focus for those operating boats, jet skis, and other watercraft. In addition, passengers should also be aware of safety measures that can be taken to help prevent boating accidents and related personal injuries. In Delray Beach, Florida, the Associated Press reported that a Florida boating accident resulted in the death of Christopher Smith (age 31) when he was thrown from a boat that struck a navigational marker in the Intercoastal Waterway. See Bond Set for Boat Operator in Delray Beach, Florida Fatal Boating Accident.

Since there was a crash with resulting death, a full investigation will be conducted. It was reported that none of the passengers on board the vessel were wearing a life jacket. It is uncertain if the wearing of a life jacket would have made a difference as to the injuries and resulting death of the boat passenger.

As Floridians go through Spring and Summer, there will be other boating accidents. Because of the dangers of being in a boat accident or the dangers of a drowning in any of Florida’s multitude of waterways, people should take precautions by wearing life jackets, checking and re-checking weather conditions, operating a boat at a safe speed, checking and re-checking engines and mechanical equipment, having other life saving devices onboard, and making sure that there is proper supervision especially for children when boating.