Florida is a boater’s paradise, with miles of coastline, springs, rivers, and lakes. It’s easy to see why Florida leads the nation in boat registrations. However, it’s also one of the leading states for boating accidents. Fortunately, these accidents can be prevented by being informed about the safest way to operate your vessel on the open water. Whether you’re a new boat owner or have spent decades navigating local waters, review these guidelines for boating best practices.
Florida Laws About Boating
Florida has passed many laws to help keep boaters, swimmers, and passengers safe. These regulations are discussed in Florida Statutes 327 and 328 and are enforced by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
All motorized vessels are required to be registered with the state within 30 days of purchase. This registration should be renewed every year. You must keep a copy of the registration certification on board. Registration numbers need to be displayed on the bow in a color that stands out from the hull. The boat’s registration decal must be placed next to the registration numbers on the port side. In addition, boat owners with vessels that travel above ten horsepower must pass a boater safety course and keep a copy of their safety ID on hand.
Florida law requires that a Coast Guard-approved flotation device, like a life vest, be available for all passengers on board. Large boats (those longer than 16 feet) also need a throwable floatation device on board, like an intertube. Passengers who are six years old or younger must wear a life vest or other approved flotation device at all times.
Distress & Navigational Signals
Every boat should have a way to signal distress to those nearby. This could include a whistle or siren. Small boats (less than 16 feet long) must have three daytime signals. Larger vessels must have three types of daytime and nighttime signals. In addition, navigational lights are required between sunset and sunrise.
What To Do if You’re Injured in a Boating Accident
Seek medical attention as soon as possible after being injured in a boating accident. Even if you feel fine immediately after the accident, you may not feel the full extent of your injuries for a few days. Ask for documentation of any treatments or diagnoses your doctor provides. Document the accident scene with pictures and video of your injuries and any property damage. Accidents that resulted in injuries, fatalities, a missing person, or property damage exceeding $2,000 must be reported to the FWC within 48 hours. Then, FWC officials may open an investigation into the accident. Once you’ve ensured the accident has been documented and received medical treatment, contact a personal injury attorney to help you collect damages you may be entitled to, like reimbursement for unpaid medical expenses and lost wages.
Ocala Boating Accident Attorney
The King Law Firm is experienced in handling various watercraft accident and injury claims from boats, jet skis, personal watercraft, water skis, tubing, and swimmers. Contact us at 352-269-1814 for a free consultation to discuss your case.