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What Are the Most Common Causes of Boating Accidents in Florida?

7 Common Causes of Boating Accidents in Florida

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, as of early March 2023, there were more than 920,000 vessels—or boats—registered in the Sunshine State. Any time you get into one of those boats, there’s at least some risk that you might be involved in a boating accident.

That risk shouldn’t keep you from enjoying Florida waterways and fun in the sun. However, understanding the risk can help you reduce it — which is why we’ve summarized some of the most common causes of boating accidents in the Sunshine State below.

As with driving or riding on the roadway, you can’t mitigate 100 percent of the risk when you enjoy boating. If you’re involved in an accident while in a boat and the accident occurred due to someone else’s negligence or actions, you may have a case for compensation. Contact the personal injury team at Jiles Law to find out whether you have a case and how we can help.

Leading Causes of Boat Accidents in Florida

From careless operators to sudden storms, the leading causes of boating accidents in the state of Florida range pretty widely. Learn more about seven top causes of accidents in and around boats below to help reduce your chances of injury when enjoying time on the water.


It’s illegal to operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol just as it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle on the roadway under the same conditions. Unfortunately, not everyone follows this law. In some cases, people may even operate a boat without realizing they are above the legal limit.

The law in Florida says you can’t operate a boat if you have a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or more. Individuals may have a few drinks with friends while enjoying fishing, swimming, or other recreational water activities and then operate a boat, putting others in danger.

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In addition, passengers who are intoxicated can increase the risks of boating accidents. They are more likely to fall overboard or cause a distraction or other incident that leads to a boat crash.

Reckless Operation

Operating a boat in an unsafe or reckless manner is another common factor in boating accidents. One of the most common examples is speeding.

In many waterways, there are posted speed limits. These limitations are set based on hazards in the water, how the waterway bends or curves, whether there are homes or docks nearby, and other factors. Boaters should always obey posted speed limits. Even where there isn’t an obvious speed limit, boat operators should choose to travel at a reasonable rate on the water.

Collisions With Other Vessels

Boats and other vessels running into each other is a common cause of accidents. Boat collisions often include some of the other factors on this list, including speeding and intoxication. However, even when all operators and passengers involved are following good safety practices, accidents can still happen.

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Staying aware of your surroundings at all times and using defensive boat operation tactics could help you avoid collisions in many cases.

Mechanical Failure

Boats should be inspected regularly to ensure all parts are in good working order. Mechanical failures or something as simple as a hole in the hull can cause an accident or injury.

Distracted Operation

When a boat operator is distracted, they aren’t paying full attention to their surroundings. Distractions can also slow an operator’s response time so they’re unable to avoid a collision with another vessel or a hazard in the water. Distractions for boat operators are similar to those for drivers and might include texting or otherwise engaging with a smartphone, watching a television screen, or joking around with passengers.

Loss of a Passenger Overboard

A common reason for injuries related to boats is a passenger going overboard. If a passenger falls, jumps, or is pushed from a boat while it’s in motion, it can cause serious injury. Even if a boat is not in motion, a passenger going overboard could hit a hazard in the water.

It’s important for passengers to follow safety suggestions, such as remaining seated while the boat is in motion or wearing life vests. The exact safety suggestions obviously depend on the size of the boat, what type of water you’re traveling in, and how fast the boat is going.

Dangerous Weather

Whenever you’re going out on the water, make sure you check the weather first. It might appear sunny and calm where you are while a storm is set to blow in within the hour.

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Stormy weather can increase dangers on the water, and even high winds on a clear day might lead to waves in large bodies of water that are dangerous for individuals in small or midsize watercraft.

What if You’re Injured in a Boating Accident?

Boating accidents work a lot like car accidents. If you’re injured and the accident was caused by someone else, their insurance company may compensate you for your losses. As with accidents on the roadway, though, at-fault parties and their insurance companies don’t often jump at the chance to cut large checks.

If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, having an experienced personal injury team on your side can help. Call Jiles Law, P.A., at 863-356-0941 today to find out how we can help.

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