Boating Accidents and Cruise Ship Injuries

Water is part of the South Florida lifestyle. We Floridians love our boats. Whether taking a week long cruise out of Port Everglades, doing a day trip to the Keys aboard a yacht, or simply powering a jet ski on the Intracoastal, we love to be on the water. Unfortunately, with recreational boating there are numerous dangers. Unless the owners and operators the necessary care for the safety of others, injuries are likely to occur. Many businesses operating recreational boating and personal watercraft activities fail to comply with federal, state, and local laws regulating safety.

Federal and State law each provide legal remedies for those who suffer injuries as a result of incidents which occur on “navigable” waters. The term “navigable” is a legal term of art that is used to describe a body of water where commerce is possible. Essentially, this means a body of water that is connected to other waterways such that the water is usable for interstate commerce.

In short, virtually all incidents involving any type of watercraft which happen on water that is connected to other bodies of water is potentially “navigable” and is subject to the admiralty jurisdiction of the United States District Court. Under the United States Constitution, Florida has concurrent legal jurisdiction with the federal courts. Unless there is an enforceable contractual waiver of a victim’s right to pursue the case in Florida circuit courts, most cases can be litigated in a Florida state circuit court as opposed to a federal district court.

The attorneys of the Ellsley Law Firm have handled numerous boating incident cases in both federal and state courts. It is important for a victim to remember that there are stringent time limitations that apply to these cases. Any contract, waiver, release, and/or any other paperwork that a victim or a victim’s family has would be incredibly important to the litigation process and must be thoroughly reviewed by the victim’s attorneys. It is also helpful to take photographs of the area where the incident occurred, the damage to the vessel, and, of course, the injuries to the victim. If possible, it is important to preserve the vessel prior to repair so that expert analysis and accident reconstruction can be performed.