An afternoon spent on a boat can be a terrific way to enjoy Bay County. It can be a great way to help shift attention away from smartphones and television screens to focus on the gorgeous surroundings that many of us take for granted. Boating can build memories that can last forever and create the opportunity for face-to-face bonding that we sometimes miss in the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Our Panama City boating injury law firm knows that it is important to prioritize safety on the water. A recent report carried by WJHG reminds readers of one danger that can strike (pun noted) even on what appears to be the loveliest of days. As the article notes, on average, 10 people die and 30 are injured by lightning in our state every year, making Florida the nation's lightning capitol. Lightning can be particularly dangerous to those on the water, and it is important that all boaters be aware of some foul weather safety tips.
Of course, the best option is to avoid being on the water during a thunderstorm. If you notice a storm rolling in and you are close enough to shore, you should return to land and find a place to take shelter. If returning to shore is impossible and your boat has an enclosed cabin, you should go down to the shelter as soon as possible. If the boat doesn't have an enclosed area, move to the center of the vessel and crouch down as low as possible. In either case, ensure that the boat is properly grounded. Avoid using electronic equipment and stay away from any tall objects. Put on rubber soled shoes if you have them, and avoid all metal.
Some boating injuries are the unfortunate result of bad weather and bad timing. Many boating injuries, however, are the result of human error. Florida law requires that both boat owners and boat operators exercise a high degree of caution in order to ensure the safety of their passengers and others on the water. In addition to foul weather, some common causes of boating accidents include: operator inattention or carelessness; excessive speed; alcohol use; operator inexperience or lack of training; and equipment failure. Injuries can range from a small scrape to something as serious as the loss of a limb, traumatic brain injury, or even death.
Florida has 1,197 miles of coastline, a figure that doesn't account for our many lakes and rivers. It is not surprising that the laws regarding boating injury are complex. Liability can depend on a wide range of factors, including whether the type of vessel involved and the relationship between the injured party and the owner or operator (i.e. recreational guest, commercial guest, boat employee, or occupant of another boat involved in a collision).
It is important that anyone injured on our local waterways contact a skilled, experienced Panama City boating accident lawyer. Please call our team to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case and how we can work together to help you receive compensation for your injuries.
For more information about boating safety, see the United States Coast Guard's Boating Safety Resource Center and the National Safe Boating Council.