Jet Ski/Personal Watercraft Accidents
South Florida beaches and tropical weather are an excellent combination for individuals that enjoy jet skiing. Many people choose to own jet skis because they are an affordable alternative to boats and are very fast. The use of personal watercraft has always been popular in Florida, however, due to their speed, individuals often get into accidents. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, personal watercraft accidents are the second most common type of vessel accidents and rank second after open motor boats as the cause of fatal accidents pertaining to vessel accidents in the United States.
The majority of jet ski accidents are due to collisions with other jet skis and other types of vessels, swimmers, and objects. These incidents not only happen in saltwater, but frequently occur in freshwater such as lakes also. Many times, these accidents occur because the drivers of the jet skis do not know how to operate a jet ski correctly. In other situations, the people jet skiing attempt to race one another and as a result, ride too close to each other, which increases their risk of colliding. It is also common for individuals to fall off of their jet skis and unfortunately, many times people get run over. This unfortunate consequence results from people who do not give themselves enough distance between other jet ski riders.
For example, we handled a personal watercraft accident case that happened in Lake Ida, Delray Beach. Our client was operating his Jet Ski, spun it around, and came to a stop in the water. At the same time, the defendant was accelerating his Jet Ski and jumped over the wake caused by our client. Since the defendant was not paying attention to his surroundings or keeping a safe distance from other Jet Skis in the water, he crashed into our client’s personal watercraft. As a result of the negligent Jet Ski driver, our client suffered a fractured leg and pelvic bone, broken ribs, and internal injuries that required surgery. The photo above is our client’s Jet Ski after the accident.
Personal watercraft accidents also occur due to poor maintenance or defects on the design of the vessel by the manufacturer. For instance, some jet ski operators have been involved in accidents because when he or she lets off the throttle, the watercraft does not have the ability to steer. In other words, due to the lack of steering, or steering difficulty, many individuals are faced with severe collisions that often result in deadly injuries.
Accidents on jet skis result in severe injuries, blunt force trauma, drowning, and even death. The U.S. Coast Guard reports the following injuries pertaining to personal watercraft accidents:
- Broken bones
- Internal organ injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
In Florida, individuals are required to be at least 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft. However, anyone interested in renting a personal watercraft must be at least 18 years of age. In addition, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, anyone born on or after January 1, 1988 are required by Florida law to either complete and pass a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators approved boating course or successfully complete a temporary certificate examination along with a boating education ID card. Florida also requires individuals operating or riding on a personal watercraft to wear a non-inflatable personal flotation device.
To avoid the risk of drowning in jet ski accidents, it is essential for individuals to wear their life jackets at all times. Not only are you breaking the law in Florida by not wearing one, but you are also putting your life at great risk. Also, to prevent being involved in a jet ski accident, avoid driving recklessly by weaving through vessel traffic, driving too close to other vessels, or swerving. Reckless operation of personal watercraft is against the law and is considered a first degree misdemeanor. Operators of Jet Skis should not be distracted or under the influence while driving, as this increases the chances of being involved in an accident.
Due to the exposure of riding or operating a personal watercraft, the injuries endured from accidents are greater than other vessel accidents, and are very traumatic. Our South Florida injury lawyers are knowledgeable in Jet Ski accidents and want to help you or your family member immediately after your accident. Don’t wait any longer, call our office now toll free at 1-877-853-7466 for a free consultation.