PWC Rental Facilities Can Be Held Responsible for AccidentsMay 12, 2017 | Category: Boating Accidents, Personal Injury, Wave Runner Accidents, Wrongful Death | Share
A trip to the beach will reveal that Florida has many PWCs (personal watercraft), and the numbers are growing. With this growth, we can expect accidents to occur which cause injuries and even, on occasion, fatalities. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, PWCs are involved in 19 percent of all reported boating accidents. In 2015 (the latest data available) there were 623 injuries as a result of PWCs and 33 deaths. 71 percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction.
Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure, and excessive speed rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
The U.S. Coast Guard defines PWCs as "craft less than 13 feet in length designed to be operated by a person, or persons, sitting, standing or kneeling on the craft rather than within the confines of a hull." Personal watercraft are better known to the public by brand names that include Jet Ski®, Sea Doo®, Wave Runner®, Tiger Shark®, Wet Jet®, etc.
In October 2016, a 24-year-old man was killed in a jet ski crash while vacationing with his girlfriend on Sanibel. An agent from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission said the man was apparently jet skiing in choppy seas, hit a piling and died instantly from the impact.
Injuries from personal watercraft accidents
RescueDiver.org says, “Research from the University of Florida shows that jet ski accidents cause far greater injury than other boating mishaps. Patients sustain more closed-head injuries, trauma to the chest and abdominal injury riding jet skis. The majority of jet ski accidents happen when riders collide with an object or another boat. Riders are usually ejected from the vehicle during a collision. The study suggested jet skis are similar to motorcycles in injuries. Additionally, boating accidents involving jet skis are almost twice as likely to involve injuries as accidents involving other kinds of watercraft. Some of the main injuries that result from these accidents are: fractured bones, brain or head trauma injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, and potential drowning and death.”
Responsibilities of rental facilities for personal watercraft training under Florida law
Most rental facilities are responsible and make sure that the person(s) renting their PWCs are trained and meet all the requirements of Florida law. However, should a person using a PWC be injured in an accident using a rented PWC he/she may have grounds for suing the rental facility. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) says the following requirements must be met:
- A person must be at least 18 years old to rent a PWC in Florida.
- A rental facility shall not rent any vessel that does not have proper safety equipment on board, exceeds the recommended engine horsepower or load capacity (as stated on the capacity plate), or is not seaworthy.
- The facility must provide pre-rental or pre-ride instruction on the safe operation of the vessel if it has a motor of 10 horsepower or more.
- All renters that are required by law to have a boater education ID card, must have the card or its equivalent in their possession and display it before the facility may rent to them. There are some exceptions to this requirement.
- PWC rentals must provide an on-the-water demonstration and a check ride to evaluate the proficiency of renters.
- All liveries must display boating safety information in a place visible to the renting public. PWC rentals must display safety information on the proper operation of a PWC. The information must include: propulsion, steering and stopping characteristics of jet pump vessels, the location and content of warning labels, how to properly re-board a PWC. This instruction also must include the applicable Navigational Rules to PWC operation, problems with visibility and being seen by other boaters, reckless operation, noise, nuisance, and environmental concerns while operating the PWC on Florida waters.
“If injuries are sustained in an accident with a rented PWC, you may have a legal claim to obtain compensation for past medical bills, future medical treatment, lost income from missed work, and pain and suffering from the PWC rental facility. Contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.,” said Fort Myers Wrongful Death Attorney, Randall Spivey.
Fort Myers Wrongful Death Attorney 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 deathcases 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 Randall@SpiveyLaw.com. Visit SpiveyLaw.com for more information. You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.in Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.