Florida Boating Accidents and Deaths Rise Year-Over-Year
A little over 1 year ago, in September of 2016, Miami Marlins star pitcher José Fernández tragically died in a boating accident just off Miami Beach, FL. As our personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, the local sports hero’s heartbreaking demise was part of a growing trend of increasingly common Florida boating accidents and resulting deaths. Indeed, according to a report released this summer by the U.S. Coast Guard, Florida saw 684 boating accidents in 2016, up from 671 boating accidents in 2015. Of the boating accidents in Florida in 2016, the most common forms of accidents were collisions with fixed objects and collisions with recreational vessels. Why do Florida Boating Accidents and Deaths Rise Year-Over-Year? Find out here.
Numbers of Boating Accidents
As our South Florida Boat Crash Lawyers know, of those 684 boating accidents last year, 59 were fatal, for a total of 70 deaths. This means that 70 people died in and off Florida’s waters as a result of boating accidents last year. Moreover, particularly unsettling is that the number of boating accidents and related deaths in Florida last year were the highest of any state in the country. For example, California, another large, coastal state, saw 386 boating accidents (resulting in 47 deaths).
While the number of Florida boating accidents increased from 2015 to 2016, and increased before that from 2014 to 2015, the increase has not been consistent over many years. For instance, while 2016’s number of boating accidents in Florida was high—too high—it was not the highest in the past 5 years. For instance, in 2013, there were 685 Florida boating accidents in Florida. And while there were 59 fatal boating accidents in 2016 in Florida (for a total of 70 deaths), there were actually 62 fatal boating accident in 2014 in Florida (also for a total of 70 deaths). So while the numbers have in the past been as or more disastrous, our Injury Specialists know that the State of Florida and the boaters herein have an obligation to make our waterways, canals, and oceans safer for boaters.
How to avoid Boat Accidents
So, how can one best avoid fatal boating accidents? There are a number of major takeaways from the Coast Guard report, many of which are worth always keeping in mind. First, according to the Coast Guard report, alcohol use was “the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 15% of deaths.” Thus, avoiding alcohol consumption while operating a boat can significantly reduce the likelihood of being involved in a fatal boating accident. Second, according to the same report, where the cause of death was known in boating accidents in 2016, 80% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. That is, it was not the collision that actually caused the death; while the collision may have created the situation in which the victim drowned, it was the drowning which caused the death. Importantly, of the drowning victims for whom life jacket usage is known, 83% were not wearing a life jacket. Based on this, as we all know, avoiding alcohol and making sure to wear a life jacket can go a long way in preventing a boating fatality.
If you have any questions about fatal boating accidents, or if you have any questions about any other personal injury issue, please contact our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green. To schedule a free consultation, please call 561-266-9191. With offices in Delray Beach, Boca Raton and Wellington, we are ready and able to assist you.