Florida has the second largest coastline in the United States (at 1,350 miles) and extensive freshwater river and lake systems throughout the state. In conjunction with yearlong warm weather, this makes Florida the premier destination for recreational boating in the nation, but it also creates an environment ripe for boating accidents. In a 2015 report conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division, Florida was found to have the largest number of registered recreational boating vessels in the United States and the largest number of recreational boating accidents by a significant margin.
Nighttime boating is popular, but boaters (and their passengers) must be particularly cautious when navigating waterways at night. Nighttime boating is fraught with unique injury risks, such as low-visibility and inadequate lighting. To avoid causing an accident, boating operators engaging in nighttime activities must ensure that their lighting and navigation systems are adequate for the conditions, and they are also encouraged to operate the boat in a safe manner given the visibility issues. What is reasonable operation during the day might be considered negligent during nighttime conditions.
If you have been injured due to the negligence of another in a nighttime boating accident — whether you are a boating operator or a passenger — you may be entitled to damages as compensation for your injuries. It’s important that you contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible for an assessment of your claims.
The Injury Risks Associated With Boating at Night
There are a number of risks associated with nighttime boating (though in many cases, not exclusively). The defendant may have acted negligently and therefore exposed you to a heightened risk of injury by:
- Failing to operate the boat at a reasonable speed giving the nighttime visibility conditions. Depending on the lighting conditions at the time (i.e., moonlight, artificial light, etc.), the boating operator must modify their speed accordingly.
- Failing to display lights that allow other boat operators to identify the type of vessel, its tow, location and speed in time for avoidance procedures.
- Taking intoxicants that interfere with safe boat operation.
- Playing music loudly (or other auditory distractions) that can muffle the sound of other boats on the water.
- The boat operator failing to provide adequate safety gear in the event of a collision or overboard incident.
The defendant need not be a third-party boat operator. If you are a passenger, for example, you can bring a claim against your own boat operator for negligent acts committed during nighttime boating operation. For example, suppose you are a passenger and the boat operator is traveling at an excessive speed. Since it is nighttime, visibility is low, and they collide with a hazard on the water, causing the boat to overturn. You suffer substantial injuries as a result. Florida law would almost certainly entitle you to bring a claim against the boat operator for negligent operation.
Boating accidents can be complicated and tricky to litigate. As such, you will want to work with an attorney who has experience in handling boat accident cases and a long track record of success in securing compensation. Contact Randall Spivey today to schedule a free consultation with a skilled attorney at the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., a Fort Myers injury law firm. We look forward to serving you.