Tampa is one of the most popular boating destinations in the state of Florida and the whole of the US.
The large size of the bay, combined with the region's natural beauty, has made it a favorite boating location for people around the country. But with numerous boats plying over the waterways daily, Tampa (or Florida in general) also witnesses several boat accidents yearly.
According to the 2021 Boating Accident Statistical Report, around 751 reportable boat accidents occurred in the state in 2020, leading to 60 fatalities and six missing persons. However, boating accidents are usually preventable and are often caused by human error or negligence.
In such cases, the injured victims can seek the help of boat accident lawyers in Tampa to file a lawsuit against the person or boating company at fault. With enough proof, they will be eligible to receive compensation from the offending party.
Most Common Causes of Boat Accidents in Tampa
Tampa Bay is one of the top boating locations in Florida. The scenic beauty of this place attracts hundreds of visitors interested in boating every year. And among the 751 reportable boating accidents in 2021, several occurred in the Tampa bay area.
Despite the broad waterways, boat accidents and collisions are common in the area - especially during the spring and summer months.
Here are some of the major causes of both accidents in Tampa:
Use Of Alcohol
Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is the leading cause of boat accidents in Tampa, often causing severe injuries or even death.
Due to the associated dangers, the use of alcohol while operating a boat is considered unlawful in Florida.
Any operator with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or above can be penalized for the same.
The penalties may include fines, prison terms, or both.
The punishment will be greater in case the operator causes an accident while under the influence of alcohol.
However, despite these laws, operating a boat under the influence of alcohol remains a frequent act.
Lack Of Attention
Another major factor contributing to the high number of boat accidents in Tampa Bay is the need for the operator to pay attention. Since operators are tasked with maneuvering and steering the boat through the waterways, they must stay highly vigilant to avoid running into obstructions or colliding with another incoming vessel.
However, boat operators often get distracted from their job, instead engaging in texting, speaking on the phone, eating, drinking, or even falling asleep while steering the boat. And needless to say, it can cause dangerous repercussions for everyone on the ship.
Untrained or inexperienced boat operators are also responsible for preventable boat accidents. Not all boat operators are equally competent in skillfully maneuvering vessels, and any inexperience increases the risk of collisions to a great extent.
This is especially true for operators who have just started- they may need more skills or training to steer the boat to and from a particular location safely. And if a collision occurs due to their fault, they are liable to compensate all the affected passengers.
Lack Of Knowledge or Training on Proper Safety Measures
The lack of training on boat safety is a significant cause of boat accidents involving fatalities. Boat operators who need to be aware of the proper techniques for maneuvering the boat to reduce the chances of collision pose a significant risk to the life of passengers on board.
Boat safety education can help teach them all these necessary skills and what they need to do during emergencies to avoid fatalities. Boat operators also need to be knowledgeable about the crucial safety equipment they should have on the boat.
Machinery Failure Due to Improper Maintenance
The boat machinery also requires regular maintenance and repairs to run smoothly. Machinery failure can increase the risk of collisions and leave the boat stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Therefore, the boat owner or operator must regularly check the machinery for signs of defect or damage.
Unfavorable weather can make boating dangerous - therefore, it's essential that boat operators only take out their passenger boats when the weather is good.
They should make it a habit to check the weather forecast for the day before starting while also ensuring the boat has all the necessary safety equipment in case there are any sudden changes in the weather.
Like speeding motor vehicles, racing boats are a significant reason for preventable accidents. A speeding boat makes it difficult for the operator to identify and avoid incoming boats or obstacles, especially when taking sharp turns on the water.
In addition, the collision is likely to be much more severe when one or both boats are speeding, thereby increasing the chances of injury or death.
The Many Risks Associated With Boating Accidents In Tampa
Boat accidents can be of many types, all of which pose an immense danger to the health and life of the people affected.
Here are some of the most common hazards you might face while boating:
Drowning is the most common cause of death related to boat accidents in Tampa.
Usually, the absence or improper use of life jackets increases this danger.
While it's a rule that life jackets must be kept within reach of every passenger traveling on a boat, in reality, only some boat owners or operators follow this guideline.
Exposure To Heat Or Cold
Getting into a boat accident can leave you stranded in the water until help arrives. And if it is a sunny day, waiting too long in the sun can cause a heat stroke.
Moreover, if any passenger falls overboard and manages to stay afloat with the help of a life jacket, prolonged exposure to cold water can also increase the risk of hypothermia.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon-based fuels, engines, heaters, and other machinery on the boat can produce carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas inhaled in more significant amounts.
While usually, the emitted carbon monoxide may not pose much of a risk, the lack of proper ventilation may put passengers at risk of inhaling this gas, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning.
The fuel used in boats is highly flammable. And in case the boat operator isn't careful enough, it may lead to fires and explosions on the ship, severely injuring or even killing the passengers on board.
Collisions pose the most significant risk to passengers engaging in boating in Tampa. Irrespective of the person at fault, the collision of two boats is dangerous for the occupant of both vessels.
Moreover, colliding with other obstacles can cause injuries and cause the boat to capsize.
Tips To Avoid Boating Accidents
Boating accidents can have severe consequences, including broken bones, burns, carbon monoxide poisoning, brain & spinal cord injuries, hypothermia, heat stroke, etc.
Therefore, any person opting for boating in Tampa must be aware of some basic measures to ensure their safety. Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Opt for a course on boat safety before going boating. It will equip you with the knowledge necessary to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
- Ensure you have a life jacket within easy reach while on the boat. If you are traveling with children, make them wear their life jackets before going on board.
- Avoid getting into a boat if you notice that the operator is drunk.
- Ask the operator to have someone serve as a lookout to identify any hazards.
- Ensure you check the weather forecast before heading out on a boat
- Keep an emergency kit with you at all times
What To Do If You Get Into A Boating Accident In Tampa
If you intend to go boating in Tampa, it's best to prepare yourself for any incident you might face. To help you, here we have mentioned the basic steps you need to take if you get into a boating accident in Tampa. Check them out below:
Check For Injuries
The first and most crucial step you need to take after a boating accident is to check if you or other passengers on board have suffered any injuries. Reach the coast guard for help, and ensure you get medical attention for all your damages.
If medical aid isn't available immediately, visit the hospital as soon as possible to get your injuries documented.
Exchange Contact Information
Make sure to exchange contact information with all the passengers on the boat and any other witnesses on the scene. In case the collision is with another ship, it's best to get the names and contact numbers of passengers on both boats.
This will come in handy if you decide to file a lawsuit against the boat owner or operator, as the testimonies of witnesses will help solidify your case in court.
Document The Scene
Along with getting the contact information of witnesses, you need to document the crime scene too. Take photographs of the accident scene, ensuring to enter the cause of the collision, the weather conditions, all damages to the boat, and any injuries sustained by you or any other passenger.
Capturing videos of the scene is also a good idea. Your lawyer can use this evidence to make your case more robust if it goes to court.
Report The Accident According to Florida Statutes, the operator of the boat (irrespective of whether they are at fault or not) is required to report any boat accident that leads to any fatalities, results in someone going missing, leads to severe injuries that require medical attention or result in property damage of $2,000 or more.
Get In Touch With A Tampa Boat Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in a boat accident caused by the negligence or inattentiveness of another person, it's best to seek the help of a capable Tampa boat accident lawyer.
These legal experts can go through your case and suggest the legal steps you can take to recover the damages you faced before.
How Can A Tampa Boat Accidents Lawyer Help
Being knowledgeable in all related laws, these professionals are the best choice if you want to claim financial compensation for the damage or injuries you sustained. Here is how a Tampa boat accident lawyer can assist you with your claim.
Can Help Prepare A Strong Case
A Tampa boat accident lawyer can help you file a lawsuit for compensation within the given timeframe and assist in collecting and compiling evidence to strengthen your case. From arranging the available evidence to getting in touch with the witnesses, they will ensure you have a high chance of winning if the case goes to court.
Can Help You In Negotiating A Settlement
After discussing it with your lawyer, you should only accept a settlement offered by the other party's insurance company. Insurance company representatives are experienced in handling such claim demands and will likely trick you into buying a much smaller claim amount than you deserve.
An efficient Tampa boat accident lawyer has enough experience dealing with such representatives, and they can expertly negotiate with them on your behalf to get you a good compensation amount.
Seeking legal representation is essential if you or someone you know has sustained injuries in a boat accident in Tampa.
The legal expert will help provide the proper guidance on the steps you need to take and also ensure you get the compensation you deserve.