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Boating Dangers Rise on Weekends in SW Florida

October 6, 2014 | Category: Boating Accidents | Share

Recreational boating creates an atmosphere that brings people together to relax, have fun and create fond memories. There are so many activities to explore when it comes to boating such as fishing, water skiing, snorkeling, visiting restaurants by boat, as well as swimming from island beaches or just relaxing on the water. Florida is a boater’s paradise with its miles of coastline and many waterways.  In season, Florida leads the country with almost 900,000 registered boaters.

Unfortunately, Florida also leads the nation in boating accidents and deaths. The state reported 736 boating accidents last year (2013), the most in the United States and nearly twice that of California, the state with the second-most accidents, at 365, according to numbers the U.S. Coast Guard released last week. Florida had 62 boating-related deaths and 420 injuries related to boating last year and nearly $7 million in property damage.

Sixty-seven percent of the reportable boating accidents in Florida during 2013 occurred in only eleven counties.  Of these eleven counties, Lee and Collier Counties ranked sixth and ninth.  For a breakdown of these boating accidents go to:

Operating a boat is as complicated as driving a car. However, with no brakes, air bags or seat belts in boats, it could be even more dangerous. If a boat operator becomes intoxicated (BUI - Boating under the influence), or incapacitated, often there is not another person on board who knows how to operate the boat. The leisurely culture of recreational boating has changed dramatically in recent years, with the advent of faster boats, personal watercraft like jet skis and wave runners and the sheer increase in boating traffic. Too often, pleasure outings turn tragic when boat operators are aggressive, inexperienced, or are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, including some over-the-counter drugs used to treat colds or allergies. These operators pose a threat to people and other vessels as well as property owners along Florida's coastal waterways.

For a boating accident to be classified as “reportable” in Florida:

  • The operator of a vessel involved in a boating accident where there is personal injury beyond immediate first-aid, death, disappearance of any person under circumstances which indicate death or injury, or if there is damage to the vessel(s) and/or personal property of at least $2,000, must, by the quickest means possible, give notice to one of the following: the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the sheriff of the county in which the accident occurred, or the police chief of the municipality in which the accident occurred, if applicable.
  • It is unlawful for any person operating a vessel involved in a boating accident to leave the scene without giving all possible aid to the involved persons and without reporting the accident to the proper authorities. They must also wait for authorities to arrive at the scene.



The following are examples of boating accident types which happen here in southwest Florida:

  • Grounding, capsizing, sinking, or flooding/swamping
  • Falls into or overboard a boat
  • Fire or explosions
  • Water-skiing or other mishap involving a towable device
  • Collision with another boat
  • Striking a floating or submerged object
  • A person struck by a boat or propeller
  • Carbon monoxide exposure
  • Casualties while swimming from a boat that is not anchored, moored or docked.


"Weekends are busy times on Southwest Florida’s waterways. There is a lot of boating traffic, and accident risks are high. Before you leave shore, be sure you are prepared for the water and that everyone understands how to stay safe on your boat" advises Boating Accident Attorney, Randall Spivey of Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.

Here are 10 safe boating tips from the National Marine Manufacturers Association:

  • Be Weather-Wise - Always check local weather conditions before departure. If you notice darkening clouds, volatile and rough changing winds or sudden drops in temperature, play it safe by getting off the water.
  • Follow a Pre-Departure Checklist - Proper boating safety includes being prepared for any possibility on the water. Make sure all instrument lights, navigation lights, horns, fire extinguishers, ventilation systems, bilge pumps, batteries,  and flares are working properly.
  • Use Common Sense - This means operating at a safe speed at all times, staying alert at all times and steering clear of large vessels and watercraft that can be restricted in their ability to stop or turn. Also, be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids, all of which have been placed there to ensure your own safety.
  • Designate an Assistant Skipper - Make sure more than one person on board is familiar with all aspects of your boat’s handling, operations, and general boating safety.
  • Develop a Float Plan - Whether you choose to inform a family member or staff at your local marina, always be sure to let someone else know your float plan. This should include where you are going and how long you are going to be gone.
  • Make Proper Use of Lifejackets - Make sure that each member of your on-board team has a Coast-Guard approved life jacket prior to departure. Wear it!Boating Dangers Rise on Weekends in SW Florida - Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.
  • Avoid Alcohol - Practice boating safety at all times by saving the alcohol for later.
  • Learn to Swim - If you are going to be in and around the water, proper boating safety includes knowing how to swim.
  • Take a Boating Course - Beginning boaters and experienced experts alike need to be familiar with the boating safety rules of operation and various water signs.
  • Consider a Free Vessel Safety Check - Take advantage of a free vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard. They offer complimentary boat examinations to verify the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations.



Boating Accident Atorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys.  He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida.  For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839,or by email to  Visit for more information.  You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.















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