Recently in Florida Boat Accident Law Category

October 14, 2016

24 Year-Old Jet Skier Killed in Crash Off Captiva Island

Man Killed in Jet Ski Crash Captiva Island.jpgA 24-year-old man identified as Hector Santiago was killed on Monday night when the Jet Ski he was riding crashed into a piling, ripping off the handlebars and throwing him into the water. Rescue personnel searched for the man for 30 minutes before he was located. Unfortunately, by then, efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. The crash occurred near South Seas Island Resort; Florida Fish and Wildlife officers could not confirm whether Mr. Santiago and his girlfriend, whom he was vacationing with, were guests at the resort but did confirm that the Jet Ski was rented.

No information is yet known on where the man rented the Jet Ski from or at what time but pursuant to Florida law, a person may not operate a personal watercraft at any time between the hours from one-half hour after sunset to one-hour before sunrise. Based on the time the accident took place, it appears that the Jet Ski was rented in violation of Florida law.

Investigation into this accident is ongoing and we will continue to update this story as we learn more information. We extend our sympathies to Mr. Santiago's family and loved ones.

Victim Identified in Captiva Jet Skiing Accident, nbc-2, October 11, 2016.
1 Dead After Jet Ski Crash off Captiva, wink news, October 10, 2016.

October 10, 2016

Key West Diver Run Over by Charter Fishing Boat

A diver was severally injured when a charter fishing boat ran him over. The incident occurred off the White Street Fishing Pier in Key West last Saturday, October 8th. Witnesses stated that the injured diver, along with another man, were displaying the legally mandated divers-down flags when the charter boat struck him at a high rate of speed. It appears that a propeller from the boat nearly severed diver's left foot. The captain of the fishing boat retrieved the injured diver from the water and reported the incident to law enforcement. The captain was directed to return to shore where Key West Fire Rescue responded. The injured diver was taken to an area hospital. There have been no reports on the victim's condition at the time of this post.

Florida's Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office investigate such incidents. Florida law requires all divers without boats display a red divers-down symbol with a horizontal white strip that is a minimum of 12 inches by 12 inches which could take the form of a flag of buoy. Florida law also requires boat operators make a reasonable effort to maintain a distance of 300 feet of a divers-down flag or buoy on open waters.

In the civil law context, a boat operator who violates a safety statute, like Florida's diver statutes, is presumed at fault and liable for the victim's damages. The boat operator can only rebut this presumption by showing that the safety statute violation could not have been a cause of the accident. It is not likely that the boat operator can overcome this presumption as if a distance of 300 feet was maintained, the diver would not have been run over.

Below is a video report by The Blue Paper.

October 4, 2016

Hurricane Mathew Forces Cruise Ships to Alter Itineraries

Hurricane Matthew.jpg
Hurricane Matthew is causing multiple cruise ships including the Carnival Sensation, Carnival Splendor and Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas to alter their itineraries as the storm travels Cuba and the Bahamas. Several cruise ships will avoid travel to the Bahamas and will instead head to Key West, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico.

According to reports, the storm made landfall in Haiti early this morning carrying winds of 145 mph causing devastating damage to the island. Hurricane Matthew is expected to pass over eastern Cuba and portions of the Bahamas later today then heading toward the US, dropping down to a category 3 with 120 mph winds.

The United States Coast Guard Captain for South Florida Ports has set port condition whiskey for Port Miami, Miami River Port Everglades, Port of Palm Beach, Port of Ft. Pierce and all other South Florida terminals and facilities due to the storm's expected track near southwest Florida.

Vessels bound for South Florida unable to depart prior to Hurricane Matthew making landfall are being advised to seek an alternate destination. Additionally, vessels desiring to remain in port have to obtain permission and submit a safe-mooring plan in writing.

Sources and Photo Credit:

Hurricane Matthew Forces Cruise Ships to Alter Course, USA Today, October 3, 2016.

Hurricane Matthew Hits Haiti, CNN, October 4, 2016.

Mariners Urged to Prepare Now for Hurricane Matthew; Coast Guard Sets Port Condition Whiskey for South Florida, U.S. Coast Guard, October 3, 2016.

Photograph made available by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

September 26, 2016

Biscayne Bay Boating Accident Sends One Person to the Hospital

Biscayne-Bay-Boat-Accident.pngA boating accident in south Biscayne Bay sends one boater to the hospital. It is being reported that at 2:20 p.m. on Sunday, September 26th, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews were called to a boating accident scene where one person was significantly injured. The incident happened in Biscayne Bay National Park near Elliot Key to the east and approximately 5 miles from Turkey Point to the west. On scene, Fire Rescue assessed the injured person as a trauma alert and called for a medical evacuation air team. Fire Rescue assisted with hoisting the victim onto a helicopter. The boater was taken to a local trauma center and is currently listed in critical condition. Though the accident involved only one boat, it is unknown if the vessel struck an object or ran aground. A local salvage company towed the vessel back to Black Point Marina. Other passengers were taken off by other boats in the area before Fire Rescue arrived. None of the other passengers were hurt. This accident occurred within in 12 hours of the boating fatality of Florida Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez.

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue

September 25, 2016

Florida Marlins Pitcher Jose Fernandez Along with Two Others Dies in Boating Accident

Jose-Fernandez-Boat-Accident.jpgFlorida Marlins' pitcher Jose Fernandez is one of three people who died Sunday morning in a boating accident off Miami Beach. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue responded to a report of a 32-foot boat that crashed into the north jetty of the Government Cut inlet. Fire Rescue Chief, Todd Garofalo, stated that an "initial search [found] three victims - two on top of the water, one underneath the boat..." The identities of the other victims have not been released. Details on how the boat ended up on the jetty and who was the operator are unknown at this time. Government Cut is the main waterway connecting the Port of Miami to the Atlantic Ocean.

Fernandez, 24, was born in Cuba and emigrated to the United States with his family in 2008 after three prior unsuccessful defection attempts. At just 15 years of age, he was jailed for defection. According to news sources, Fernandez saved his mother from drowning on the journey to Mexico after leaving Cuba. Fernandez and his family settled in Tampa where he attended Alonso High School. He was a 2011 first-round draft pick of the Marlins and was selected to play in the National League All-Star game in his rookie season. Last week, Fernandez announced he and his girlfriend, Maria Arias were expecting a child. During today's news conference the Marlins announced the couple was expecting a baby girl. We are saddened by the tragic loss of a stellar player and human being and offer our condolences to his family and the families of the two victims involved in this accident.

***UPDATE - Sept. 25, 2:30 p.m.***

New details are emerging from this tragedy. It is being reported that the boat involved in the accident is a 32-foot SeaVee owned by one of Fernandez's friends. A Coast Guard patrol boat from Station Miami Beach spotted the overturned vessel on Government Cut's north jetty at 3:15 a.m. High speed is expected to be a contributing factor in the accident. SeaVee center console boats can reach top speeds of 55 to 65 miles per hour according to the manufacturer. The law requires all vessels be operated at a safe speed so that it can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions. Lights from Miami Beach could also have been a factor in the operator's inability to see the jetty. LED cockpit lights may have also played a role in decreasing the operator's ability to observe the jetty. It is unknown if the vessel was equipped with radar, but if it was, the law requires the use of that radar to its fullest extent to determine the risk of collision.

***UPDATE - Sept. 26, 2:30pm***

Miami residents Emilio Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25, have been identified as the other to victims of yesterday's boating tragedy. Macias' family has set up a GoFundMe page for his funeral expenses, describing him as an "amazing son, brother, grandson, boyfriend, cousin, friend." Rivero's family also set up a GoFundMe page for his funeral expenses, describing him as a "beautiful angel" who was "full of life, full of love, and full of happiness. Rivero and Macias both graduated from Miami's Braddock Senior High School in 2009.

We will continue to provide updates as more information is learned.

Photo Credit:

August 24, 2016

Florida Law Applies to Boat Accident Personal Injury Claims in Most Miami-Dade County Canals

Miami-Dade Canal Boat Accident Law.jpgThe Federal Eleventh Circuit recently found that a Miami-Dade County canal popular for boating and fishing is not navigable thereby precluding claims based upon Federal admiralty jurisdiction. Since Federal admiralty jurisdiction does not exist, Florida state law, not Federal maritime law applies to boating accidents that occur in many South Florida canals.

The Accident

A privately owned pleasure boat was operating in a waterway known as the Coral Park Canal. While the boat was traveling south, it encountered a bridge with low clearance at the intersection of SW 94th Avenue and SW 8th Street. The operator and four passengers lowered their heads while the vessel passed under the bridge. As the boat emerged from the other side of the bridge, one passenger raised his head and hit a water pipe owned by Miami-Dade County that extended over the canal. The force of the impact ejected the passenger from the boat and into the canal causing a significant personal injury.

Continue reading "Florida Law Applies to Boat Accident Personal Injury Claims in Most Miami-Dade County Canals" »

August 4, 2016

Teen Injured After Jet Ski Collides With Channel Marker


A 16 year-old teenager was airlifted yesterday after he was thrown off a jet ski when it struck a channel marker. The teenager was jet skiing near Fred Howard Park in the Intracoastal Waterway. His condition is not known at this time.

According to reports from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a nearby boater assisted in getting the young man help. The FWC is currently investigating the accident. We sincerely wish the young man a speedy recovery.

This is the second accident of this type this week alone. On Sunday, a Miami man was killed when he was involved in a nearly identical accident near the Julia Tuttle causeway.

It is important to remember that personal watercrafts are not equipped with brakes and thus operators have to be extremely wary of objects on the water, such as channel markers, other PWCs and boats.

Additionally, the likely first instinct when encountering an object is to let go of the throttle and turn the handlebars in another direction to avoid the object. However, to turn the PWC you have to advance the throttle to provide the thrust necessary for it to turn. Thus, if a person lets go of the throttle, the PWC will continue to move in the direction it was going when the person released the throttle, regardless of the direction the person moves the handle bars.

We strongly recommend anyone engaged in recreational boating or watersport activities to obtain training prior to such activities. It can really mean the difference between life and death.


Good Samaritan Pulls Injured Jet Skier Out of Water, Teen Airlifted to Hospital, ABC Action News, August 2, 2016.

August 1, 2016

Man Killed in Personal Watercraft Accident

0-417-green-marker.jpgA man was killed Sunday, July 31, 2016 when the personal watercraft he was operating slammed into a channel marker causing him to be thrown off the vessel and to hit the marker. Two women riding with him were also thrown off the watercraft. The accident occurred near Picnic Island, south of the Julia Tuttle Causeway. All three persons involved were rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital where the man was pronounced dead. One of the women sustained serious injuries to one of her legs. The other woman suffered bruises and has already been released from the hospital.

According to reports from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the man was going in circles at a high rate of speed and he lost control of the Jet Ski hitting the channel marker. FWC officials continue to investigate the crash.

We extend our deepest condolences to his family and a speedy recovery to the two women injured.

Florida boating safety laws differ as to the requirements for operating a personal watercraft making a distinction based upon age, residency, and whether the person owns the watercraft or is renting it from a livery. However, we strongly urge anyone operating a personal watercraft to participate in a boating safety course to learn about navigation rules, reckless operation, environmental concerns, propulsion, steering, etc.


Personal Watercraft Accident in Picnic Island Leaves 1 Dead, 2 Injured, Miami Herald , July 31, 2016.

1 Killed, 2 Injured in Personal Watercraft Accident Off Miami, WSVN 7 News, July 31, 2016.

July 14, 2016

Law Enforcement Investigating Florida Boating Accident Wherein Child Died from Injuries

Florida Law Enforcement Boat Accident.jpgLaw enforcement is conducting an investigation into a boating accident that killed a 7-year-old child in Charlotte County, Florida. The incident occurred about 9 a.m. on the morning of July 9th near the Stump Pass area of Placida. The boy was in a 20-foot boat with his father and 11-year-old brother. Reports indicate that the boy was sitting at the back of the boat when his father turned on the engine. Unfortunately, the father applied too much throttle which caused the boy to fall off the back of the boat and into water. The boy made contact with the engine's propeller severely injuring him. The child was transported to the Englewood Emergency room where he later died from his injures.

Officer Stuart Spode of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission stated "at this time we believe it was just an unfortunate accident.". No charges are pending against the father.

July 12, 2016

Two Women Injured in Jet Ski Accident

Two women sustained injuries as a result of a personal watercraft accident, Monday, July 11, 2016 about a mile and half south of Bill Baggs State Park, near Key Biscayne. WSVN reports that both women were on the same Jet Ski when it ran aground, throwing them into the water.

One of the women sustained neck and head injuries and was airlifted to Ryder Trauma at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The second woman was taken to Mercy Hospital with facial injuries.

Perez of a party boat nearby found the two women and rendered assistance to them. According to Capt. Perez the more seriously hurt woman "couldn't move and was floating in the water."

The names of the two women and their condition have not been released. The cause of the accident is under investigation by Florida Fish and Wildlife officials.

Our firm has seen an increase in personal watercraft accidents in large part due to the failure of liveries to provide adequate pre-rental instruction to their customers. Pursuant to Fla. Stat. ยง327.54(1) the pre-rental instructions should include and need not be limited to instructions regarding 1) the operational characteristics of the vessel to be rented, 2) safe vessel operation and vessel right-of-way, 3) the responsibility of the vessel operator for the safe and proper operation of the vessel, and 4) local characteristics of the waterway where the vessel will be operated.

Our lawyers have handled multiple personal watercraft injury cases and have been successful in establishing the negligence of liveries involving the failure to provide adequate instructions before the renting of a personal watercraft. If you were injured during a personal watercraft rental and would like to know more about your legal rights, feel free to contact our offices.


2 injured in personal watercraft accident near Key Biscayne, WSVN, July 11, 2016.
2 injured in personal watercraft accident near Key Biscayne, Sun Sentinel, July 11, 2016

Photo Credit:

WSVN, 2016 Sunbeam Television Corp.

July 11, 2016

7-Year-Old Boy Killed in Boating Accident


A seven year old was killed while boating on Saturday July 9, 2016.

The boy, his father and 11 year old brother were on their boat, in the water, near Stump Pass Marina in Charlotte County, Florida just before 9 a.m. According to news sources, the boy was seated at the back of the boat when his dad turned on the engine and switched it into gear.

It appears the throttle bounced and the movement caused the boy to be thrown from the 20 foot boat into the propellers.

The child suffered heavy trauma to his abdomen and was taken to Englewood Community Hospital where he later passed away.

We are saddened by this tragic incident and our thoughts are with the boy's family.


Child dies in Charlotte county boating accident, NBC2, July 9, 2016.

7-year-old killed, thrown from boat in Charlotte County, Winknews, July 9, 2016.

Boy, 7, dies after Charlotte County boating accident, ABC7, July 9, 2016.

Photo Credit:

ABC7 news.

July 1, 2016

Coast Guard Orders July 4th Slow Speed Zone in Biscayne Bay for Second Year

For a second consecutive year the Coast Guard has ordered an expanded 15-knot (17mph) speed limit for large areas of Biscayne Bay on July 4th. The temporary slow speed zone includes the areas between Turkey Point and the Julia Tuttle Causeway. This safety measure is a direct result from multiple July 4th boat accidents including the deadly accident in 2014 where four people died in a collision near Dinner Key in Coconut Grove. The slow speed zone will be in effect from 7 p.m. until 11:59 p.m. The Coast Guard along with Florida and local law enforcement agencies will have an increased presence during the period to ensure boater safety while transiting the bay during night hours. Below is a chart showing the expanded slow speed zone.


Source & Photo Credit: Coast Guard News

June 29, 2016

Florida Intracoastal Waterway Boat Accident Leaves One Dead and Others Injured

Gonzalez_Pfannkuch_Boat_Accident.jpgDylan Gonzalez of Port Charlotte, Florida died in an early morning June 19th boating accident. Gonzalez was fishing with his friend Billy Pfannkuch on a 19' Ranger flats boat. Near 4:20 AM, the two men heard another boat's engine coming towards them. That boat was a 20' Lake & Bay operated by Dalton Reas and carrying four passengers. Pfannkuck reported to law enforcement that the boat operated by Reas was on plane in a no wake zone portion of the Intracoastal Waterway near Eldred's Marina and Placida Harbor. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission who is investigating the accident reports the larger Lake & Bay boat struck a channel marker before colliding into the smaller Ranger boat. As shown in the above photograph, it appears that the Lake & Bay struck the Ranger on the starboard (right) aft (rear) quadrant with significant force. Gonzalez was transported to a nearby hospital but died from his injuries. Pfannkuch, who was ejected into the water from the crash, suffered a fractured collarbone and pelvis. A GoFundMe page was created to help with Pfannkuch's medical and family expenses as he is expected to be out of work for at least three months.

Boat run-over accidents in Florida have spiked in recent weeks. Often times a contributing factor to these run-overs is one boat failing to comply with safety laws. It has been reported that the Lake & Boat may not have had its running lights one. Both Federal and Florida law requires that a boat underway at night to display a certain configuration of lights so that others make observe the speed and direction of the boat.

Photo Credit:
Boca Beacon

June 28, 2016

One Dead Two Injured in St. Lucie County Boating Accident

Cody_Troska.jpgOne man has died from injuries after a boating accident in St. Lucie County, Florida. According to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) report, 20-year-old Dominic Dragan was operating a 20 foot center console Pathfinder by "running in circles, jumping waves and showing off." While running the vessel in circles, Dragan was thrown off into the water with his boat still circling around him.

Three witnesses swam out from shore to assist Dragan by attempting to board the unmanned vessel and cut off the engine. While attempting to board the Pathfinder, the vessel also ran them over. The three men were taken to the hospital where one of them, 26 year old Cody Troska, died from a head injury. The other two, 23 year old Luke Muccigrosso and 22 year old Andres Blanco, were also injured but survived. Dragan was not injured.

The FWC report indicates that Dragan may have been under the influence at the time. It seems that with each summer there is a spike of boating accidents where alcohol or drugs are involved. We recently blogged about boating under the influence of alcohol in Florida and civil liabilities associated when someone is injured by an intoxicated operator.

Photo: Cody Troska (Facebook)

June 28, 2016

A Legal Approach to Florida Boat Run-Over Injuries

Florida_Boat_Accident.jpgInjuries caused by boat run overs occur with some regularity in Florida. Just in the past week, Logan Farquhar of St. Augustine lost his leg when he and four others in a fishing boat were run over in the Tolomato River by a ski boat.

Our law firm has vast experience in handling personal injuries resulting from boats running over victims who were either in the water or on another watercraft. One of our recent cases involved a snorkeler who was run over by a speed boat in South Florida. The impact by the boat's propellers caused significant injuries to our client including a nearly severed left arm and fractured pelvis. Another case we recently handled involved a passenger who was run over by a Yamaha WaveRunner while riding as a passenger on the back of another personal watercraft. This accident resulted in our client suffering fractures to her left tibia and fibula. These cases are just examples of the various types of boat accident injury claims our attorneys handle.

Continue reading "A Legal Approach to Florida Boat Run-Over Injuries" »