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If you live or vacation in Florida, you have probably seen how popular water-based activities there are in the state. Offering thousands of miles of coastline, Florida provides ample opportunities for water sports involving jet skis, wave runners, sailboats, and more. Kayaks are also a common way to enjoy the scenic views and get a great workout at the same time. However, other boaters are not always mindful of kayaks.
Kayakers could be seriously injured in accidents in the Miami area, potentially facing permanent injuries in accidents with other boats. At Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind P.A., our Miami, FL kayak accident and injury lawyers are ready to help you assess your potential claim and seek the compensation that you deserve after an avoidable accident. Call us at (305) 204-5369 to schedule a free legal consultation.
Risk and Dangers of Kayak Riding in Miami
According to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, during 2018, there were 13 reported boat accidents involving kayaks or canoes. The agency defines reportable boat accidents as incidents where at least one person required medical treatment beyond simple first aid or where someone lost their life. Reportable accidents also include incidents involving a missing person or any claim for over $2,000 in property damage. Although kayaks seem like a simple vessel, kayaking can lead to serious injuries. Some common types of kayak accidents include collisions with powerboats and sailboats, tipping or capsizing, and injuries related to a user’s lack of experience in kayaking.
Kayaks are operated by one or two people, and they are light enough to take on day trips or carry out to more exciting waters. Since other boats are larger and travel at higher speeds, their operators might not see a smaller kayak. Especially if the conditions are not clear or the waterway is crowded, this can be very dangerous for kayaks and could easily result in potentially serious boating accidents.
Due to the design of the vessel, a kayaker is exposed to danger and can suffer serious injuries like broken bones, concussions, or even drowning after a collision with a motorboat or sailboat. Other common causes of kayak accidents involve changing weather, paddling to a remote location, lack of a spare paddle, poorly maintained equipment, lack of familiarity with the surrounding area, or lack of skill or physical fitness to safely operate a kayak. A kayak accident attorney in Miami can help investigate the specific cause of your accident and fight to hold the proper parties accountable.
Suing for Kayak and Canoe Injuries in Miami
If you were injured in a kayak accident, you can often bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. To get compensation, you must prove that the defendant failed to exercise the appropriate care and use the necessary level of skill at the time of the accident. This standard can take different forms depending on the circumstances surrounding the crash. The duty can also be supplied by applicable boating rules and regulations.
When it comes to operating a boat, Florida requires licensing and training, but Kayaks are often rented to tourists and other recreationalists. The facilities that rent the equipment do not always perform sufficient checks regarding whether the individual is capable of safely operating the vessel. If a business failed to ensure that the kayaker had sufficient skill and ability, they might be held liable for the injuries that their kayaker received or caused. Lawsuits against kayak rental companies are often difficult because of the rental agreement and liability waivers they make you sign. An attorney can help review your case and see whether the waiver interferes with your right to sue.
Boating accidents involving kayaks can also happen when other boaters are not careful. Kayaks are full-fledged boats and can access many areas of the water around Miami that larger boats and ships can. This means boaters need to be cautious about looking for smaller vessels. If they cause an accident with a kayak or fail to properly control their wake in no-wake zones, they could cause serious injuries to kayak riders. Moreover, these kinds of kayak accidents could be caused by more serious negligence, such as intoxicated boating.
Kayakers themselves could cause accidents as well. If you were riding in a kayak while someone else was paddling, they could be responsible for accidents they cause. Everyone in a kayak has some level of responsibility for its operation, but if the other rider steers you into danger, they could be held responsible. Florida law allows the court to assign partial fault to each party involved and award damages accordingly. This can help you get compensation from another kayaker even if you contributed to the accident in some way.
Calculating Damages in Kayak Accidents in Miami, FL
If you were injured in a kayak accident, you could be entitled to substantial financial compensation for your injuries. The compensation you are entitled to will depend on what damages you suffered in your case. An experienced Miami kayak accident and injury lawyer can review your case and help calculate the damages you can claim. In most injury cases, damages are available for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, but the values of these damages will vary.
Damages for medical expenses will be calculated by totaling up the full cost of the medical care you needed after the accident. If your injury was severe, you could have spent months in the hospital. Injuries could also require ongoing physical therapy and other care to help patients recover. Permanent injuries and disabilities could also require future care if your condition will not fully improve. To calculate some of these future damages, your lawyer will use a financial expert to help protect these costs. You can try to claim all of these damages in court.
The value of damages for lost wages will change depending on how long you were out of work and how much money you usually make. Injuries that keep you from working for a few days or weeks should entitle you to full compensation for these lost wages. Injuries that keep you out of work for a longer period should entitle you to higher lost wage damages.
If an injury makes it impossible to return to work, you should be entitled to ongoing damages for future lost wages. Calculating these damages can be difficult if you are still able to work but cannot work at your old pay rate anymore. If you now make less money because your injury keeps you from performing your old job, a financial expert can calculate your lost earning capacity and projected future losses. This can help you seek compensation for the wages you will lose going forward if you missed out on early retirement or expected promotions at your old income level.
Pain and Suffering
Damages for pain and suffering are not based on any financial records or bills. Instead, your testimony about how the injury affected your life is one of the best pieces of evidence you have. Testimony about activities you can no longer enjoy, how intense your pain is, how the injury interrupts your daily life, and other aspects of the injury can demonstrate the physical and emotional toll the injury took on you. Courts tend to award higher damages for more serious injuries, but pain and suffering is unique to each person and each injury.
Settlements for Injuries in Kayak Accidents in Miami
In many cases, a boating accident will involve insurance companies, tour boat companies, boat rental companies, or other businesses. These companies – and individual defendants – will work to settle the case quickly for a low value, if they can. In many early settlement offers, the defendant will offer a low value to try to end the case quickly. That offer might not be enough to cover your damages.
You should always review a settlement offer with an attorney before accepting it. The damages in a settlement are often paid by insurance companies. The terms of the relevant insurance policy might stop the insurance company from covering pain and suffering damages, and the cost of medical care and lost wages might be covered at only a fraction of the full value. If you accept this kind of settlement, it will usually block you from being able to go to court later and claim additional damages. Having a Miami boating accident lawyer review your case can help you determine what your case should be worth and whether a settlement is enough.
In addition, it is vital to have an attorney review your case because it is good to have someone on your side who can look out for your best interests. The defendant, their insurance company, and even the company you rented a kayak from do not represent you and do not necessarily have your best interests at heart. A lawyer is ethically required to help their client and give them reasonable legal advice to help protect their best interests. A lawyer can help explain options to you so that you know what choices you have to make and how they will affect your case. Lastly, a lawyer must leave the ultimate decision to their client as to whether to accept a settlement or fight the case in court. That means that it always your choice to refuse a settlement and seek full compensation in court instead of taking a low offer.
Speak with a Knowledgeable Kayak Accident and Injury Lawyer in Miami
Suffering sudden, unexpected injuries on the water can be a traumatic experience, especially for novice kayakers or boaters. At Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind P.A., we have helped many Florida residents seek the damages they deserve after another person’s carelessness caused injuries in a boating accident. Call our Miami, FL kayak accident and injury lawyers today to set up a free legal consultation where you can learn more about your potential case. Our phone number is (305) 204-5369.