Personal Watercraft Accidents in Florida

Personal Watercrafts (PWC) such as Jet Skis, WaveRunners, and Sea-Doos, are popular on Florida’s vast coastline. However, according to the United States Coast Guard (USCG), Florida PWC riders and passengers have a higher collision rate than almost any other type of watercraft. PWC accidents occur for various reasons, including operator inexperience, excessive risk-taking, and noncompliance with water safety rules.

Inexperienced operators and passengers are one of the leading causes of PWC accidents in Florida. According to the USCG, the majority of accidents involve operators between the ages of 11 to 20. Only approximately 18% of the accident claims involved owners, meaning that most injury victims do not involve an owner but instead friends or family members. Although some newer PWC models have special settings for new riders that limit the power output, many models do not have this safety function. Moreover, the USCG and National Transportation Safety Board report that over 80% of PWC accidents occur less than an hour into a ride. Nearly half of PWC injury victims reported never operating a device before the accident. As such, the majority of PWC accidents involve young, inexperienced, non-owner operators.

In addition, to rider inexperience, accident claims reveal that over 70% of PWC collisions involve another vessel, usually other PWCs. Inexperienced riders are often unfamiliar with how to control their speed and judge appropriate stopping distances. Even those who are familiar with boats and motorcycles have trouble handling PWCs. For instance, PWC’s do not have traditional brakes and can take over 300 feet to stop when the device is going around 60 mph.

PWC accidents are more likely to involve severe injuries and fatalities. Unlike other boating accidents, PWC operators are more likely to suffer fatal injuries related to blunt-force trauma rather than drowning. These accidents often throw riders off the PWC at high speeds, which results in the rider being slammed onto the water. In some cases, the impact can be similar to slamming into a brick wall. Not surprisingly, serious injury or death is common following a personal watercraft accident.

Recently, a prominent Florida doctor and hospital CEO suffered fatal injuries after being ejected from a PWC. The doctor, who was lauded for his COVID-19 response, was found floating in the water wearing his life jacket. Emergency responders transported him to a local hospital, but he died from his injuries. Officials are continuing to investigate the tragic incident.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Watercraft Accident?

If you or someone you love has suffered severe injuries or died in a Florida boating accident, contact the injury lawyers at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada. The attorneys at our office have years of experience successfully representing Florida injury victims and their loved ones in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Our attorneys possess the skills, resources, and tools necessary to obtain a favorable outcome in complex personal injury lawsuits. We handle Florida claims involving motor vehicle collisions, boating accidents, premises liability, products liability, and medical malpractice. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to discuss your rights to compensation after a Florida accident.


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