Florida is a boater’s paradise with over one million registered boats and plentiful waterways—
including lakes, rivers, springs, and oceans. However, more boats means more accidents. Florida
leads the nation with the most boating accidents, with 751 accidents reported in 2021. Here are
the most common causes of boating accidents in Florida.
Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is one of the leading causes of boat
collisions. Boaters must adhere to the same intoxication regulations as motorists do. Operating a
boat with a BAC level of .08% or higher is illegal. Boating under the influence (BUI) carries up
to a $500 fine and a six-month jail sentence if convicted.
Inexperienced Boat Operators
Inexperienced boat operators are another leading cause of boat accidents. Florida laws state that
boat operators must be over the age of 14. A legal boat operator may not willingly allow
someone under 14 to operate a water vessel. Owners of a motorized boat with more than ten
horsepower born after January 1, 1988, must complete a boat safety education course from the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. After completing the course, boat owners
must keep their Boating Safety Education ID card on them while operating the vessel. The
course discusses issues regarding safe boat operation, which is essential to preventing boating
Most boating accidents occur when a boat collides with another vessel or an immovable object.
Boat operators should be constantly aware of their surroundings and seek passengers’ help to
locate other boats or swimmers. Boating collisions also occur when a boat does not have proper
clearance to pass under a bridge, dock, or pier. To prevent these accidents, know your boat’s
dimensions and follow posted signage regarding the clearance needed to cross under a bridge.
Speeding is another leading cause of boating accidents. It is important to follow all posted signs
in Florida’s waterways regarding speed limits, idling speeds, and no-wake zones. No-wake zones
are areas where boaters must travel at their slowest possible speed, usually no greater than five
miles per hour. Violating speed limits in waterways can come with a fine.
Florida’s weather can change quickly, especially during the summer. A beautiful and bright
sunny day can quickly turn into a severe thunderstorm with high winds and heavy rains. It is
important to stay on top of the weather forecast throughout the day and check the ocean wave
report for signs of turbulent waters. If you see a storm approaching, it is best to return to shore
for the safety of you, your passengers, and your boat.
Boat owners are responsible for maintaining and inspecting their vessels, especially before
taking their boat out on the water. This also pertains to boat rentals and leasing companies. If a
boating accident occurs due to improper maintenance, the boat owner or rental company could
be liable for damages. Common mechanical failures include:
- Non-operational navigational lights
- Faulty or an improperly maintained communication system
- Bad steering
- Engine problems
- Defective or recalled boating parts
Call the King Law Firm After an Injury in a Boating Accident
If you were involved in a boating accident due to the negligence of another party, it is vital to
reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney like our team at the King Law Firm to
ensure you receive compensation for your injuries. Contact our office at 352-269-1814 for a free
consultation to discuss your case.