Each year thousands of people come to Florida for the sun and water. Along many of Florida’s beaches are Jet Ski, WaveRunner, Sea-Doo and other personal watercraft rental companies. Often times these rental companies are staffed with part time employees who are more interested in checking out the action on the beach than the safety of the renters. These employees oftentimes give cursory instruction on how to turn on and off the watercraft, ask the renters to sign the “rental agreement” and send them off. Speed combined with inexperience and lack of instruction is a recipe for disaster.
Florida law requires watercraft rental companies to provide riders minimum safety instruction before turning over the watercraft to the renter. If the rental is for off-site use, an on-the-water demonstration and rider proficiency check is required. This level of instruction is often times overlooked.
Nearly every Jet Ski, WaveRunner, Sea-Doo and personal watercraft rental agreement have clauses which state in event of an accident or injury the renter will hold the rental company harmless. In other words, the rental companies seek to avoid any liability stemming from the rental of the personal watercraft. If worded properly and correct instruction is given, courts will likely to uphold the agreements. This means the injured renter will have no recourse against the rental company. However, if proper instruction is not given in accordance with Florida law, courts have ruled public policy precludes the rental companies from avoiding liability by virtue of the rental agreements. As such, it is imperative that you select a well qualified and experienced attorney to represent you should you become injured while riding a rented personal watercraft.
Hiring a law firm is an important decision and should not be based only on advertisement. The personal watercraft lawyers at Brais Brais & Rusak have handled several Jet Ski, WaveRunner and Sea-Doo personal injury cases and have been successful in navigating around rental agreement exculpatory clauses to achieve favorable settlements for their clients. If you were injured on a Jet Ski, WaveRunner or Sea-Doo in Florida and would like to learn more about your rights, feel free to contact us. Our Florida Board Certified Maritime attorneys will be happy to discuss your claim.