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Breaking Down Boating Accidents In Tampa


In 2017, boating accidents in the United States seriously injured thousands of people. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the fatality rate in these accidents was alarmingly high. Most of these incidents are not “accidents” related to bad weather or other uncontrollable events. Rather, a lack of ordinary care or a refusal to obey safety laws causes almost all these incidents.

If negligence was involved, damages in boating accident cases can be substantial. These damages often include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. In extreme cases, an attorney might also be able to obtain punitive damages. These additional damages are available if there is clear and convincing evidence of extreme recklessness.

Technical Issues in Tampa Boating Accident Cases

Venue is important in civil cases. The victim/plaintiff must normally file the claim in the county where the incident occurred. On land, this determination is usually quite easy. Everyone has GPS nowadays. But on the water, this process is a little more difficult.

Many of Florida’s lakes and beaches cover multiple counties. Sometimes, the boundary line crosses the water. Complicating matters even further, first responders usually bring the boats to shore, if possible, before they conduct their investigation. Many times it’s often better to bypass this issue altogether and file the claim in the county where the victim/plaintiff resided.

If the case is filed in the wrong county, it is not the end of the world. The error is almost always reversible. However, remedying this situation always costs time and money. So, it’s better to get it right the first time.

Establishing Liability in Florida Boating Accident Cases

It is a fact of life that negligence causes most boating accidents in Tampa. As we see time and time again according to the U.S. Coast Guard, some of the top causes are:

  • Impairment: Alcohol is the primary factor in about a fifth of the fatal boating accidents in Florida. Since impairment begins with the first drink, any evidence of consumption is usually sufficient to establish liability. If the tortfeasor (negligent boater) was arrested for DUI, liability may be even easier to prove, thanks to the negligence per se
  • Inattention: Most people multitask when they drive boats. Lack of concentration is even more dangerous on the water, because other boaters are usually zigzagging all over the body of water.
  • Speed: Excessive velocity increases the risk of a collision and the injuries in that collision. Boats do not have brakes, so they must drift to a stop. Moreover, speed multiples the force in a collision between two objects. So, speed transforms a property damage-only wreck into a serious injury wreck.

Honorable mention, or dishonorable mention depending on your perspective, goes to operator inexperience and mechanical failure.

Resolving Tampa Boating Accident Cases

If liability is relatively clear, perhaps because it involves negligence per se, Florida insurance companies have a legal duty to settle claims quickly but often do no out of financial greed. Insurance companies want to deny liability and delay claims at all costs. Retaining an experienced Tampa personal injury law firm with a history of successful litigation in boating accident claims will ensure you and your family maximize your recovery and protect your rights.

Team Up with Experienced Lawyers

Boating accidents often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury cases.



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