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With so many miles of beautiful coastline to enjoy, Florida is a haven for people who enjoy yachting, sailboats, and speedboats. As pleasurable as these vessels may be, they are not without risks. An idyllic day on the water may quickly turn into a catastrophic, life-altering event if boat operators and others responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of yachts and other vessels fail to use the appropriate care and skill.
The Miami yacht accident and injury lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. can advise you and your family if you have been hurt in an accident on a yacht. When pursuing compensation for your injuries, consulting a yacht injury attorney is a critical step to take. Call our Miami yacht accident attorneys today at (305) 204-5369 to set up your free legal consultation.
Who Do You Sue for Yacht Accidents or Injuries in Miami?
Just as people who own and operate automobiles on land have certain duties to fellow motorists, passengers, and pedestrians, people who own or work aboard yachts or other pleasure boats have a duty to obey appropriate rules for boaters, including state and federal safety regulations. When someone is injured due to a yacht owner’s failure to take proper care, the victim may be able to pursue damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, among other damages. If a family loses a loved one due to the careless actions of yacht operators, the victim’s family may file a wrongful death claim for losses. However, finding the right party to sue in your case might be a challenge.
If you were a passenger on someone else’s yacht, the boat’s owner or any crew responsible for operating the boat should be held responsible. Lawsuits against a boat owner can help victims seek damages for dangers on board, such as damaged decks or handrails that cause a passenger to fall down or fall overboard, or for injuries from a crash or other accident.
Other claims for injuries on a yacht are often filed against the crew rather than the owner. Yachts are often crewed by staff and crew hired out by private companies to help owners pilot their vessel and host parties and events on the ship. These crew members are often contractually obligated to take care of the vessel and pilot it, meaning that they must use reasonable care when doing so. If you were injured because of negligent staff and crew on a yacht, you may be able to sue the crew and the company they work for, even if the injuries occurred on your own yacht.
If your vessel was hit by another negligent boat operator, you can usually file a lawsuit against that operator or the person or company that owns that boat. That means that if you are struck by a drunk driver on a speed boat or a fishing vessel that was being piloted by an inexperienced operator, you can sue them for any damages you suffered in the accident.
Some injury cases might also be filed against product manufacturers. Companies such as the yacht’s manufacturer or the manufacturer of other equipment, such as life rafts or flotation devices, might be responsible for dangerous designs or manufacturing defects.
Types of Yacht Accidents and Injuries in Miami
Yacht accidents can happen for many reasons. As mentioned, some accidents are caused by dangerous conditions on the yacht, while other accidents involve crashes. Our lawyers represent victims injured in any of the following types of accidents and fight to get them compensation for their yacht accident injuries:
Accidents Between Vessels
If the yacht you were on hit another vessel – or was hit by another vessel – you might be entitled to file a lawsuit against the at-fault operator. These accidents often cause injuries from falls to the deck or falls into bulkheads because of the sudden shock of the crash throughout the boat. If the accident caused sufficient damage to the yacht, it could actually begin to sink, which could put passengers in further danger.
Accidents Involving Swimmers and Boaters
If you were hit by a yacht, you could suffer severe injuries. While swimmers generally should not be in the same waters as yachts, smaller boats like kayaks and small sailboats often share the same waters. If you were involved in a crash with a yacht, you could have little to no protection to blunt the force of the impact. Victims of these crashes often suffer severe head injuries and other injuries that could be fatal. If your loved one was killed in an accident like this, our lawyers might be able to help.
Drunk Boating Accidents
f the operator of the yacht was drunk when the accident happened, they could be responsible for the crash. Lawsuits for these kinds of injuries can often be filed against the pilot’s employer, whether that be the owner of the yacht or the staffing agency that hired them. If you were riding on a yacht when another drunk boater hit your vessel, you could also suffer injuries that might entitle you to a lawsuit.
Drunk boating accidents account for a large portion of boating accidents each year. “Drunk boating” in Florida includes operating a boat with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, but even a lower BAC can justify accusations of boating DUI.
Accidents Involving Docks and Piers
If a yacht comes and hits the dock or pier where you were standing, you could face serious injuries. Damage to docks and piers can cause victims on the dock to fall into the water, potentially from heights. The fall could be deadly in many cases, especially since the waters below the pier might be shallow or rocky and because broken debris from the crash could injure the victim as they fall into it.
Yacht Crashes into Rocks and Beaches
One type of accident most likely to cause severe damage to the yacht is an accident with rocks or accidents where the whole vessel runs aground. This can cause serious damage to the hull, potentially causing the whole yacht to sink. If the accident takes place at night or in inclement weather, it could put passengers and crew at serious risk of injury if they fall into the water or have to evacuate on life rafts.
Slip and Fall and Premises Liability Injuries
Yacht passengers are often guests to the vessel. The owner and operator of the ship is responsible for making sure that conditions aboard the vessel are safe for these guests. If you were injured because of spills or dangerous conditions on the ship, such as broken stairs or handrails, you could be entitled to sue for your injuries. These accidents and injuries could also involve fires or electrical hazards on the ship.
Sexual Assault on a Yacht
Yachts with cabins and quarters could be the site of traumatic sexual assault. If you or a loved one was taken advantage of on a yacht, you might be afraid to come forward because you think your story will not be believed or that there is no recourse in the criminal justice system. Our attorneys can work to file a personal injury lawsuit against your assailant to help fight to get you justice and financial compensation for the assault.
Proving a Negligence Lawsuit for Yacht Injuries in Miami, FL
When you take your case to court, your lawyer has to prove to the judge and jury that your claim is true. Proving each element of the claim means meeting the “burden of proof” by providing appropriate evidence. Our Miami yacht accident lawyers are experienced in handling these kinds of cases and can help you understand what evidence will be helpful to your claim and how we will go about proving the elements of your case.
Elements of a Yacht Accident Case
Typically, claims arising from yacht and boat accidents are based on “negligence.” This means that they require proof that the at-fault party owed the victim a duty, but that they breached that duty by failing to use the necessary care or skill. You must also show that the breach of duty caused the victim’s damages.
To prove all four of these elements – duty, breach, causation, and damages – the victim must show that the crew or yacht owner owed them a legal duty (e.g., the duty to pilot the vessel with reasonable care or the duty to make reasonable repairs to keep the yacht safe). They must also prove that the responsible parties breached that duty by failing to use the proper care and skill, and that that breach of duty actually caused their injuries and other damages.
Burden of Proof
In civil lawsuits, you must it must prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant’s careless or reckless conduct led to the injuries to meet the “preponderance of the evidence” standard used in these cases. This “burden of proof” is lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases and is much easier for a victim to achieve.
There are many ways that negligence could occur on a yacht, including unsafe speeding, overcrowding or overloading a boat, striking a fixed object or another vessel, failing to obey navigational rules, failing to keep a proper lookout, boating under the influence, or distracted boating. The evidence of what happened in each type of injury case will be different, but there are often many types of evidence that you can supply to help prove your injury case.
Photos and videos are common on yachts, especially if you are a guest or visitor on the yacht for a party or event. These photos and videos might not capture the accident itself, but they can at least provide geotagging information about where the photo was taken, proof of who was there as a witness when the accident happened, and of course proof that you were actually on the vessel when the accident happened. If the yacht had security cameras, these could have also captured evidence. Our attorneys can ask the owner of the footage to preserve the evidence for court and ask the court to subpoena the footage.
Your testimony will also be an excellent piece of evidence. If you can talk about the accident and explain what happened, the jury can listen to that information and take it as evidence of what happened. Other witnesses to the events can also give their own testimony about what happened.
When proving your case, you will also need to supply evidence of the damages you faced. Medical records, bills, financial statements, and pay stubs will help provide proof of the medical expenses and lost wages you faced. Pain and suffering damages are often proven by your testimony and descriptions of the experiences you faced.
Damages for Yacht Injury Lawsuits in Miami
When you sue for damages after an injury on a yacht or other vessel, you may be entitled to compensation for any economic or noneconomic harms that resulted from the accident. This means seeking damages for medical expenses to cover emergency medical transportation, treatment, rehabilitation, and physical therapy for an injury. If you missed work or acquired a disability that prevented you from working at the same job after the accident, you may be entitled to damages for lost wages or reduced earning capacity. The lawsuit can also help you claim damages to compensate you directly for the pain and suffering of the injury. These damages come on top of any damages for the medical expenses, and they are paid specifically to offset the physical pain, mental anguish, and emotional distress of the accident and injuries.
The death of a loved one can also be compensated. This can help cover the cost of funeral expenses, burial costs, lost wages, lost companionship, lost household services, and other damages to help your family continue on after a loss.
Call Our Miami Yacht Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation
Victims who have been hurt because of the careless conduct of a yacht owner or another party responsible for the operation of a vessel should talk to an attorney about the possibility of taking legal action to seek damages from the responsible parties. The experienced Miami yacht accident and injury attorneys at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind offer free, confidential case evaluations. To set up a free legal consultation to discuss your case, call us at (305) 204-5369.