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Florida Boating Accident Statistics 2020 Released

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has released Florida boating accident statistics for 2020, revealing that Florida continues to lead as the state with the highest number of boating accidents per year.

The Highest Number of Boating Accidents in the U.S.

Florida is a boating heaven, with a variety of water from the Gulf to the beautiful inland lakes and rivers.

In fact, the FWC report shows that Florida continues to lead the way for the most registered vessels in the U.S.

But sadly, 2020 also saw the highest number of reportable boating accidents – 863 Florida boating accidents.

It should be noted that a ‘reportable boating accident’ involves injury, death or over $2,000 of property damage. With that in mind, there may have been hundreds of incidents that didn’t meet those criteria.

A Surge In Accidents and Deaths

Sadly, those 863 boating accidents resulted in 79 deaths (including 5 missing persons) and 534 injuries.

That’s an increase of 16% from the 723 boating accidents reported in 2019.

If you ever needed a reminder about the severity of boating accidents – there’s your warning.

Falling Overboard

Falling overboard and drowning has been the leading cause of fatal Florida boating accidents.

88% of those victims were not wearing a life jacket. Even if you think you can swim comfortably, this is a warning that accidents can disorientate you, knock you out or restrict your swimming skills in often dangerous waters.

Life Jackets Save Lives

Whether you’re fishing, boat cruising or enjoying the sun remember – accidents happen fast and without warning. The FWC states that the majority of deaths could have been prevented with a life jacket.

The message from the FWC is clear – “Life jackets save lives.”

Thankfully today’s world offers a range of light, comfortable and stylish inflatable belt-pack or over-the-shoulder life jackets.

Alcohol a Factor

23% of Florida boating accident deaths were drug or alcohol use-related.

Much like driving a car under the influence, driving your boat while intoxicated is also dangerous and, if over the limit, illegal.

In Florida, a BUI (Boating Under the Influence) offense is defined as:

  • A blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. (0.2% for under 21s).
  • Having consumed alcohol or drugs that have “affected the person to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired.”

If you’ve been arrested for a BUI offense or involved in a Florida boating accident, you should contact a criminal defense attorney for BUIs as soon as possible.

Their expertise may be able to help minimize your penalties or potentially get your case dismissed due to a lack of evidence.

Pinellas County Boating Accidents

Pinellas County is thankfully not one of the leading counties for Florida boating accidents. That title goes to Monroe County.

However, Pinellas still saw 4 fatal accidents in 2020 and 24 with injuries.

The most common type of boating accident was a collision with another vessel and the most frequent cause was listed as ‘no-proper look out’.

Get Your Florida Boating Education Card!

The FWC is urging Florida residents to educate themselves before heading out on the water. In Florida, you can get a permanent Florida boating safety education card.

To learn how to get your card, click here.

These are great for anyone who likes to rent boats without tests and will help you become a better boater – significantly reducing the risk of accidents.

Pinellas County saw 2,959 boating education cards issued in 2020 with all ages taking part.

  • 57% of Florida boating accidents involved those with no boating education.
  • 69% of Florida boating accident deaths involved those with no boating education.

Florida law requires boaters to undergo boating safety education – but only if they are born on or after Jan. 1, 1988. The agency issued nearly 75,000 boating education safety ID cards last year, most of those to boaters under age 35.

Take Care

Ultimately, anyone operating a vessel on the water should take as much care as they would on the highway in their care.

Yes, there is usually far more space but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get overconfident, take your hands off the wheel, stop paying attention or drink alcohol.

Boat accidents are violent and can result in lacerations, broken bones, traumatic head injuries, severe bruising and death.

Every boat should also be equipped with life-saving gear such as life vests for each passenger, fire extinguishers, proper lights and a sound device such as a horn or whistle.

What To Do If You’ve Been Injured a Florida Boating Accident?

If you’ve been involved in a Florida boating accident and suffered an injury you should first receive medical attention.

You may be wondering what compensation you can receive and who is liable for your injuries?

This will depend on the details of the accident. In most cases, if a boating operator was negligent or reckless then they will likely pay for damages.

The best thing to do is to contact a Florida personal injury attorney who will assess your case and review whether you have a chance at receiving compensation for your damages.

A marina may also be liable for renting to unsafe or unqualified operators or if their boats were in an unsafe condition.

Florida Boating Accident Statistics 2020

  • Collisions with other vessels were the #1 type of accident – with 27%
  • Towed water sports (such as water skiing) resulted in 9 fatalities and 37 injuries.
  • Human-powered craft (such as canoes and kayaks) were involved in 14 fatal accidents.
  • May saw the peak number of accidents in 2020 (120).
  • There were 54 injuries per 100,000 registered vessels.
  • 70% of Florida boating education cards were issued to those born after 1987.

Contact a Boating Accident Attorney in Florida

Free Consultations

If you’ve been involved in a boating accident in Florida, you may need the legal support of either a personal injury attorney or a criminal defense attorney.

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida and has been helping Florida residents since 1958. With award-winning experienced attorneys, we can help you get your life back on track after a boating accident and protect your future.

Schedule a free consultation today to get started or to get any questions answered.

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