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SWFL Boating Safety in Focus

A series of high-profile boating accidents has safety advocates preaching caution as we head into the height of Southwest Florida’s tourist season.

With nearly 1 million registered vessels and more than 600 serious boating collisions each year, Florida is by far the most dangerous state in the nation, with California as the only other state to report more than 300 boating accidents a year.boats-300x225

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports 52 more reported boating accidents occurred in 2017, compared to the previous year. A total of 766 boating accidents were reported, killing 67 people. Southwest Florida is home to nearly half of the state’s 10 most dangerous counties for boaters, including Monroe County (ranked 1st – 105 reported boating accidents), Lee County (ranked 5th – 39 reported accidents), Collier County (ranked 7th – 31 boating accidents) and Charlotte County (ranked 10th – 18 boating accidents).

Our boating injury lawyers in Fort Myers know the leading type of Florida boating accidents continues to be collisions, either with a fixed object or another vessel. Falls overboard are a leading secondary type, as well as a leading cause of death, making life vests crucial. Last year, 81 percent of those killed were not wearing a life jacket. 

“For 2017, the leading contributor to boating accidents was the operator’s inattention or failure to maintain a proper lookout,” said Lt. Seth Wagner of the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section. “It is critical for operators to be diligent in observing and being aware of what is going on around them.”

SWFL Boating Accidents

Recent Southwest Florida boating accidents highlight the risks, which include falling overboard and being struck by a boat propeller.

  • The body of a 60-year-old Fort Myers man, was identified after he was ejected in a boating accident on the Caloosahatchee River, NBC2 News reported
    • Sadly the man who lost his life in the above wake ejection crash was a close friend of ours here at the Garvin Law Firm. 
  • In September, a 15-year-old boy was killed after his dad fell against the throttle, causing him to fall overboard, where he was struck in the head by the boat propeller. The fatal boating accident occurred in Monroe County (Florida Keys) waters near Summerland Key.
  • A 29-year-old Fort Myers woman spent several weeks in the hospital after a boating accident near Matanzas Pass Bridge (Fort Myers Beach). She also fell overboard, where her leg was struck by the propeller of a rented pontoon boat.

Boating Safety in Southwest Florida

Injury claims in these cases often hinge on identifying insured defendants. Inexperienced boaters in rented boats or on personal watercraft continue to be involved in an outsized number of boating collisions. For example, nearly half of all personal watercraft accidents in Florida involve a rental watercraft. These cases should always be reviewed by a Florida boat crash injury lawyer with significant experience handling boating accidents and injuries to tourists and Florida residents alike.

Committing to boating safety is among the best things you can do to avoid becoming a statistic. In addition to always wearing a life vest and your kill switch lanyard, Florida offers a wealth of safety advice for resident and visiting boaters, including boater safety courses, and information on hypothermia, rip currents and safety equipment. Boaters should also always file a float plan. 

If you are injured in Fort Myers or any of the navigable waters of Florida or the U.S, contact our injury attorneys at the Garvin Law Firm at 800.977.7017 for your free initial consultation.

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