Florida Hit-and-Run Boating Accidents

Hit-and-run accidents are a particular scourge on Florida’s roadways, but they also occur on the water with more frequency than most people would suspect.  This is particularly true in Florida, which had the most boating accidents and fatalities in 2017 of any state in the country according to recent statistics released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC).  A recent hit-and-run boating accident that took place off Hollywood Beach in Broward County serves as an example of the dangers that can occur out on the open water, particularly where swimmers or divers may be in close proximity to boaters who are either not paying attention or may be inebriated or under the influence of alcohol.

The Fort Lauderdale Hit-and-Run Boating Accident

According to a news article from Miami’s News 7, the Hollywood Beach accident occurred when a 23-year-old diver, who had just concluded a dive approximately a mile off Hollywood Beach, surfaced and then was hit by the propeller of a boat passing nearby.  The diver suffered injuries to his shoulder and back and his diving equipment was significantly damaged as a result of the collision.  The boat that ran over the diver simply kept on going, but the diver thankfully had several friends in a nearby boat who were able to pull him into their boat, transport him to shore, and then call Fire Rescue.  Broward County Fire Rescue transported him to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries, where he was listed in stable condition.  Both the U.S. Coast Guard and FFWCC are conducting investigations and have reportedly questioned two individuals in connection with the incident, but they are still looking for the owners and operators of the boat that ran over the diver in order to confirm that the accident was indeed a hit-and-run.

Florida Law Regarding Hit-and-Run Boating Accidents and the Operation of Boats Generally

Although a hit-and-run accident in which a driver rear ends another car and one in which a boater mows down a swimmer or a diver, like the recent accident off Hollywood Beach, may not seem remotely similar, the law handles both factual scenarios similarly.  The only difference between the two under the law is the factual circumstance in which the injuries occurred.  Like a motorist, a boater is required to operate his or her watercraft in a safe, non-negligent manner.  If a boat’s operator is driving the vessel without due care or disregarding the safety of others and causes an accident which injures or kills someone else, whether that is other boaters or nearby swimmers or divers, or causes property damage, the boat’s operator can be held civilly liable for his or her actions.

Should an accident on the water occur and someone is injured, or property damage occurs, a boat operator also is required under Florida law to stay at the scene to render assistance to any injured parties and wait for the authorities to arrive.  Failure to remain at the scene in such a circumstance can result in a third-degree felony, just as it can with a driver who speeds away from an accident in which someone was injured or killed, or property damage occurred.

If you have been involved in a boating incident that resulted in injuries to yourself or your property and the operator did not stay on the scene to assist you, then the other boater is not following Florida law and, not only could he or she be civilly liable to you for causing the accident and any resulting damages you suffered, but that person also will face potential criminal prosecution as well.  If it turns out that the Hollywood Beach diver’s injuries and the damage to his diving equipment were caused by a boat that then fled the scene, that boat’s operator could be liable under Florida criminal law for fleeing the scene of the accident.  That boat’s operator also could be held civilly liable by the diver for the diver’s injuries, any medical care and treatment necessitated for those injuries, the pain and suffering caused to the diver by those injuries, and any damage to the diver’s diving equipment and other personal property caused in the accident.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A.

Whether it was a hit-and-run boating accident involving a diver or swimmer, a collision between two boats, or any other type of accident on the water, boating accidents occur regularly in Florida.  Indeed, boating accidents occur with greater frequency in Florida than anywhere else in the United States, and there is a high incidence of death and injury in Florida due to boating accidents.  Due to the fact that our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined practice representing the injured, including those injured in all manner of boating accidents, the lawyers of Schwed, Adams & McGinley well understand both how often these tragedies occur as well as the devastating impact these tragedies can have on a decedent’s family, friends and loved ones.  If you, a family member, or a loved one has been injured or killed in a boating accident, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A at 877-694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation today.