Recently in Florida Boat Accident Law Category

October 6, 2015

Cargo Ship El Faro with 28 American Crew Members aboard Sunk Off the Bahamas

El_Faro_Sinking_Law.jpgThe United States Coast Guard confirms that the 790 foot cargo ship El Faro went down off the Bahamian coast with 28 American crew members aboard. The 41-year-old vessel was sailing from Jacksonville, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico to deliver cargo. It is reported that the vessel lost power while trying to sail around the approaching Hurricane Joaquin near Crooked Island. With no power the crew took a direct hit from a weather system which had estimated 140 mile per hour winds producing waves up to fifty feet. The Coast Guard found a 225 square mile debris field from the El Faro days after communication was lost. Within it was the awful discovery of a deceased crew member in his survival suit. At the time of this blog entry, no survivors have been found. The Coast Guard is continuing its search. The El Faro's owner, Tote Maritime, has set up a website providing periodic updates.

What makes this maritime tragedy unique is that the El Faro is American flagged and crewed by 28 United States seamen along with Polish nationals. This allows the crew members and their families to be protected by United States Maritime Law including the Jones Act and Death on the High Seas Act. This body of law allows surviving crew members to recover compensation for both the physical and psychological trauma sustained from any negligence of Tote Maritime or unseaworthiness of the vessel. Maritime law also allows the families of lost crew members to recover their loved ones' future earnings as well spousal and parental support which they otherwise would have received but for the accident. The Jones Act also allows the family to recover pre-death pain and suffering.

We sincerely hope that crew members will shortly be found alive. The Maritime Law Blog will continue to post about this event as facts become known.

September 22, 2015

Operator Who Left the Scene of a Biscayne Bay Boating Accident Wanted by Law Enforcement

FWC Biscyane Bay Accident.jpgThe Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is looking for a boater who left the scene of an accident last Sunday after his boat injured a man in Miami's Biscayne Bay. According to law enforcement, the victim was helping the other person push their boat off and was badly cut by the propeller. The boat operator then left the scene. The victim was brought by fireboat to Sea Isle Marina and then transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital. The boat is described as white, 20 feet long with a different color Bimini top.

Federal law requires that a boater involved in an accident to remain at the scene and render necessary assistance to each injured person to save that person from danger caused by the marine casualty, so far as the individual in charge can do so without serious danger to his vessel, himself or individuals on board.

If you have any information about the identity of the boat operator, please contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's 24 hour hot-line at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

September 21, 2015

One Dies Four Injured in Florida Intracoastal Waterway Boating Accident

Pompano Beach Boat Accident.jpgSeveral news agencies are reporting a fatal boating accident which occurred last Saturday night in the Pompano Beach, Florida Intracoastal Waterway. Though no eye witnesses have yet to be identified, at least one person heard the accident. Tracia Latino stated that she was watching television at her home when she heard a crash which sounded like thunder. Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which is investigating the incident, said two boats, one carrying five people and the other carrying two collided around 8:21 p.m. Authorities were notified that one person went missing after the crash. The Coast Guard halted all boat traffic for several hours in order to conduct a search for the missing boater. After a long search by several agencies throughout the night, the body of the missing man was recovered Sunday afternoon. Law enforcement later identified the man as William Alfred Ineson, Jr.

Photo Credit:
Sun Sentinel

September 8, 2015

Gator Park Airboat Crash Leaves Several Injured

Everglades Airboat Injury.jpgTwo airboats collided Monday injuring several people. It has been reported that the accident sent at least twenty to area hospitals for treatment. Fortunately, no fatalities have been reported. The accident occurred at Gator Park located approximately 25 miles from Miami. Miscommunication between the operators is being blamed for the crash.

Typically when such incidents occur, the tour boat company files a special proceeding in Federal Court called a petition for exoneration or limitation of liability. This legal maneuver is designed to give the company a distinct litigation advantage over the injured people seeking compensation. First, this proceeding requires the injured parties to bring their claims in Federal Court without the benefit of a jury. Second, it attempts to convince a federal judge to exonerate the company of any wrongdoing or limit the liability to the post-accident value of the airboats involved. Often times, the value of the boats are far less than the value of the personal injury claims.

Should Gator Park file a limitation of liability action, all is not lost. There are ways around the limitation caps in certain situations. If you were injured on an airboat and would like to learn more about your legal rights, feel free to contact our Florida Board Certified Maritime Lawyer. We have litigated several limitation of liability cases and lectured on the topic at legal seminars.

June 2, 2015

Ft. Lauderdale Intracostal Boat Accident Law

Fort Lauderdale Intracostal Waterway Boat Accident Lawyer.jpgWe have been following the tragic story of Dalton Joseph Shirley who lost his life when a center console boat he was riding on crashed into a concrete dock in the Intracoastal Waterway behind a house located on Northeast 38th Street, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. We learned from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that two others aboard the boat, Justina Coronez and Austin Lail were also seriously injured.

Though the accident occurred in the highly populated intarcostal waterway within the city limits of Ft. Lauderdale, federal maritime law governs the actions of the boat operator and dock owner which lead to this most unfortunate event. Often incorrectly called a collision, when a moving boat strikes a stationary object on the water it is called an "allision". Under maritime law, the moving object, here the center console boat, is presumed at fault under what is called the "Rule of the Oregon". This presumption may be rebutted in certain situations.

After a boat accident such like this, there are many unanswered questions. Was there something wrong with the boat, was the operator impaired, was the dock properly lit, did another boat contribute to the accident? One thing is for sure, the insurance companies for the boat operator and dock owner will hire seasoned maritime investigators to interview witnesses and gather documents. Often times, the investigators lead the witnesses into making statements helpful to their client should a lawsuit be filed. The insurance companies will also hire experienced maritime attorneys to defend the boat operator and dock owner. These attorneys are very skilled in maritime law and will use the law to their clients' advantage. One possibility is that a Petition for Exoneration From or Limitation of Liability may be filed asking a federal court to exonerate the boat owner or limit his liability to the post-accident value of the vessel. This is all orchestrated to lessen the potential recovery for the victims. The insurance companies' best efforts, however, may be overcome by a skilled lawyer representing the victims.

The maritime board certified attorneys at Brais, Brais, Rusak & Cerda-Collazo are fully aware of the tactics employed by insurance companies and their lawyers. Each of our partners have started their practice in maritime firms routinely appointed by insurance companies in such situations. We now ONLY represent victims. Our knowledge of how insurance companies handle Florida boat accident claims, as well as experiences handling boat crash lawsuits first as defense attorneys now as plaintiff attorneys, gives us unique insight in such legal matters. If you were injured or a loved one died as a result of a Ft. Lauderdale boat accident, feel free to contact us. In such traumatic times, we are more than willing to travel to you for a face-to-face consultation where we could discuss your rights.

May 31, 2015

Boating Accident Along the IntraCoastal Waterway in Ft. Lauderdale, FL Leaves 1 Dead and 2 Seriously Injured

fl_lauderdale_fatal_boat_crash.jpgMultiple news sources are reporting that at approximately 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 30, 2015, a boat carrying five people crashed into a concrete dock near the 3200 block of Northeast 38th Street, along the Intracoastal Waterway in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The boat that crashed into the dock is believed to have been traveling with a second boat, apparently carrying another five people. One person was thrown from the boat. Although this person was pulled from the water and efforts were made to resuscitate him, the person did not survive. Two others were transported to Broward Health Medical Center with what have been described as "potentially life-threatening injuries." None of the identities of the boaters have been released. However, neighbors who were interviewed after the crash reported that the boaters appeared to be in their early twenties or possibly late teen years.

An investigation is underway by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ("FWC") and the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department. Details including the cause of the crash are not known. It is also unknown what types of boats are involved or whether the second boat was involved in any way with the collision. We will continue to follow the joint investigation by the FWC and Ft. Lauderdale Police Department.


March 22, 2015

Miami Entrepreneur Michael Cappoini Crashes Boat into Biscayne Bay Seawall

Miami entrepreneur Michael Cappoini was operating his 25’ boat when it collided into a concrete seawall in Biscayne Bay. The crash injured both Cappoini and his guest Brooke Biederman. Cappoini is said to have sustained broken bones and is expected to make a full recovery. Biderman’s injuries were more severe. She was taken to Ryder Trauma Center where she underwent at least one surgery for significant head injury. At last report, Biderman is in critical condition. What makes this incident unique is that the boat is captured by surveillance video seconds before it crashed into the seawall near the Miami Beach Coast Guard Station. The collision, which happened last Friday just after 10 AM, drew the attention of several Coast Guard personnel who rendered immediate assistance. Florida’s Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission is the lead law enforcement agency tasked with investigating the incident.

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March 8, 2015

Barge Sinks in Ft. Pierce Inlet Drowning Deckhand

A 100 foot barge built in 1957 sunk in the Ft. Pierce Inlet drowning a deckhand. The barge was being towed by a 54-foot Gulfstream from Key Biscayne to Georgia. The towing operation was performed by Reed Adams, Charles Griffin, Rodney Grambo and Dominick Tortorice. The decision to attempt the inlet was made when the barge began to take on water offshore. The fast outgoing tide through the inlet proved too much and the half century old barge causing it to break up and sank. Unfortunately, Tortorice did not make it off the barge in time. Reed Adam told media that the barge's superstructure collapsed on Tortorice moments before the vessel when down. Tortorice's body was later found offshore. Authorities suspect the outgoing tide carried his body away from the accident scene.

Ft. Pierce Inlet was closed after the event as the Coast Guard feared other boats may strike the sunken barge causing additional accidents. The inlet has been since reopened to recreational boats with drafts less than six feet upon clearance from an official managing vessel traffic in the area.

The barge has been reported to be in two pieces and has created a debris filed in and around the inlet. Given the swift current in Ft. Pierce Inlet, the depth where the barge sank and its weaken condition, Coast Guard indicated it will be difficult to remove the wreck. The salvage operation is being performed by Resolve Marine Group based out of Ft. Lauderdale. No time table has been set for when the barge will be removed and the inlet completely reopened.

A tug and barge owner owes the deckhands working for it the legal duty to provide a vessel that is seaworthy and reasonably fit for its intended purpose. Should a deckhand become injured or die as a result of an unseaworthy barge, maritime law allows the seaman or his estate to recover certain money damages. The amount of damages depend on the circumstances.

February 10, 2015

Everglades Airboat Crash Injures Two

Everglades Airboat Injury.jpgA private and a Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission airboat collided in the Everglades last Tuesday injuring two women passengers. The crash happened a mile and a half south of mile marker 34 off I-75 in Broward County around 12:50 p.m. The impact from the accident left the private airboat inoperable. One of the injured women is a 24-year-old University of Florida student who was aboard the Wildlife Conservation Commission preforming research on bats. The other is a 37-year-old woman who sustained more serious injuries. Both injured passengers were placed on the Wildlife Conservation Commission airboat and transported to land before being taken to the hospital. The Marine Division of the Broward County Sheriffs Office is investigating the accident.

February 6, 2015

Hollywood Man Dies When Boat Overturned Off Fort Lauderdale

76-year-old German Diaz of Hollywood, Florida has died when the 16 foot boat he and family members were aboard overturned in bad weather. The accident happened on February 4th just off the coast of Fort Lauderdale. Reports state Diaz and four member of his family were fishing when the weather conditions deteriorated. They tied the boat to a buoy to ride out the storm. When they tried to untie the line, it got tangled with the propeller causing the boat because to take on water before overturning. Everyone in the group were able to hold onto the overturned boat except Diaz. Divers ultimately found Diaz trapped under the boat wearing his life jacket.

January 25, 2015

Miami Boat Accident Sends Passenger to the Hospital

Miami law enforcement is investigating a boat accident that sent one passenger to the hospital. It appears from facts reported from various new sources that nine people -- five women and four men between the ages of 18 and 24 -- were aboard a 19 foot jet-boat when it crashed into a wood piling about 8:30 PM on the night of January 24th. 911 was called on scene by one of the passengers.

The boating accident happened in Biscayne Bay several hundred feet from Sea Isle Marina near 16th Street and North Bayshore Dive. The crash caused the passengers to be thrown inside the boat. Luckily no one was ejected. A woman passenger, however, was taken to Ryder Trauma Center for her injuries. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Captain, Ignatius Carroll stated, "The other eight people that are here on scene seem to be okay, but obviously they are very shaken up by what happened and they are being interviewed by FWC, who will determine the cause of this incident and how it could have been prevented."

Alcohol is suspected to be involved. The boat's operator was charged with boating under the influence after given a field sobriety test. This is another in a long string of accidents which occurred in Biscayne Bay where the operator was suspected of boating under the influence. Under Florida law, to be convicted for boating under the influence, the operator must have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.

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November 13, 2014

Run Over Haulover Snorkeler Brings Maritime Tort and Lien Against 43' Midnight Express Named The Golden Rule

Golden Rule Midnight Express.jpgThe Florida Admiralty and Maritime Board Certified attorneys of Brais Brais Rusak & Cerda-Collazo filed a verified complaint in rem against a 43' Midnight Express go-fast boat for allegedly running over Marc Craddock while snorkeling more than 1 mile off Haulover Inlet. The all gold colored speed boat, aptly named The Golden Rule, equipped with five outboard engines is technically owed by FLC Marine LLC., a Florida limited liability company, whose managers are Adam Gordon and his father Michael Gordon.

Court documents state The Golden Rule was returning from the Bahamas on October 17th when it ran over Mr. Craddock causing life-threatening injuries. Mr. Craddock was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami and underwent multiple emergency surgeries before being transferred to an Orlando hospital.

Continue reading "Run Over Haulover Snorkeler Brings Maritime Tort and Lien Against 43' Midnight Express Named The Golden Rule" »

August 13, 2014

Young Boy and Woman Die in Indian River Boating Accident

Local news outlets are reporting that a young boy and a woman were killed in a boating accident on the Indian River near the Eau Gallie Causeway in Melbourne. Eyewitnesses at the scene stated that the 18-foot boat flipped over when attempting to assist a sailboat in distress. Four of the other people on the boat were rescued by good Samaritans as well as first responders. The victims of the boating accident, Ares Aronoyos and Stephanie Coleman were taken to Holmes Regional Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead. Florida Fish and Wildlife is handling the investigation

July 9, 2014

Miami Boat Accidents and a Little Known Law

Miami Boating Accident Lawyer.jpgBoat accidents are nothing new in Miami. Sun, fun, inexperienced operators and alcohol all play a role in both recent and past boating tragedies. After such horrific events there is a public outcry for more law enforcement and tougher laws aimed to prevent more injuries and deaths. This is a normal and well intended reaction. However, flying under the radar from public scrutiny is an over 150-year-old Federal law that allows boat owners, or should it be said the boat owners' insurance companies, the ability to limit the amount of money damages paid to the victims of the boat accidents to the post-loss value of the vessels. This law, known as the Limitation of Liability Act, can be devastating to an already overwhelming situation. Imagine a situation where a boat passenger who one minute was enjoying a holiday weekend and the next cannot walk or the children left parentless after the accident. This statute allows the boat owners to ask a Federal judge to limit the amount they must compensate these victims to a few thousand dollars or less.

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July 7, 2014

Another Biscayne Bay Boat Crash Claims Lives

Biscayne Bay Boat Accident.jpgIt seems every holiday weekend someone has lost their life in a boat crash on Biscayne Bay. Ernesto Hernandez was killed in May when a boat operated by DJ Laz backed over him on Nixon Beach in Key Biscayne. On Memorial Day Weekend, Giovanna Patricia Santos was killed when the boat on which she was a passenger collided with an anchored boat near Elliot Key. Now this past 4th of July weekend, four people died and several other injured when three boats collided near Dinner Key in Coconut Grove.

This past tragedy occurred after a fireworks show. After the fireworks concluded, many boats began racing back to the marina. Reports state that a 32-foot Contender center-console boat operated by Andrew Garcia collided with another vessel owned by the Hanono family. Garcia and most of his passengers were ejected causing the unmanned boat to collide with another.

Continue reading "Another Biscayne Bay Boat Crash Claims Lives" »