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Boat Accident

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A Review of Personal Injury Lawsuits

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Injuries caused by negligence, inattention, and unsafe conditions cost the public millions in lost wages, medical expenses, and legal fees every year. If an injury results from someone else’s negligence, the injured party may file a personal injury lawsuit. Causes of these types of accidents can vary from failure to maintain a safe, an unobstructed storefront walkway to distracted driving. In any case of negligence in which the accident results in injury, a personal injury attorney often works with the injured person and their family to recover damages for expenses.

Common Accidents Associated with Catastrophic Injuries and Personal Injury Lawsuits

  • Auto Accidents: Car crashes are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) among people old enough to legally operate a motor-vehicle in the U.S.
  • Boating Accidents: TBI and drowning accidents can result due to boater inexperience or mixing alcohol consumption with long hours on the water.
  • Burn Injuries: Burns can occur due to negligent workplace conditions. Scalds are the most common burn among small children and can occur due to negligent supervision by a nanny or babysitter.
  • Defective Products & Medical Malpractice: Medical devices, such as pelvic mesh implants, have caused severe complications or infections in patients. Dangerous medications have also lead to severe injuries in some patients. In contrast, faulty auto tires have led to blowouts and severe injuries from vehicle rollovers.
  • Injuries to Minors: Some common injuries to children may involve defective toys, dog bites, burns/scalds and sports injuries. Injuries are not always immediately visible and can also stem from child abuse. Parents or loved ones must intervene immediately if they suspect negligence or abuse is behind physical or emotional injuries to a minor.
  • Motorcycle Accidents: About 42% of motorcycle crashes involve motorists who fail to see the motorcycle and then turn in front of the rider, causing a crash and serious injury. When another driver causes a rider to wreck, that rider may have a rightful claim to compensation.
  • Slip and Fall accidents: Falls result in nearly 1,000,000 emergency room visits each year. Many slip and fall accidents involve the elderly – adults over the age of 65. Other fall injuries often occur due to cluttered public spaces, such as store aisles, or unsafe jobsite conditions.
  • Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence: At least 60% of nursing home patients will experience a slip and fall accident each year. When a fall causes an injury in a nursing home, it’s important to examine the incident carefully to determine if the fall occurred due to negligent supervision by the nursing home’s staff – particularly in cases where a particular resident has a history of falling.
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents: The state of Florida ranks second on the US pedestrian accident list. Accidents often involve a pedestrian or bicyclist and a single automobile, but may also involve pedestrians and motorcycles or even pedestrians and bicycle riders. Severe injuries can result in any one of these cases.

Common Personal Injury Facts and Figures

With regard to the types of accidents listed above, the following facts and statistics are associated with a majority of personal injury lawsuits:

  • 60% of fatal injuries and non-fatal injuries requiring hospitalization occur in the home, 16% occur on the street or highway and 8% occur at a managed care facility.
  • Road accidents are usually caused by careless driving, failing to yield the right of way and driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • About 34% of all people killed in auto accidents in the state of Florida were not wearing seat belts.
  • Accidental injuries are the leading cause of death in people ages 1-44.
  • In 2011, 94 Florida residents died from unintentional fire-related injuries. There were an additional 584 hospitalizations for non-fatal injuries.
  • In 2011, there were 3,551 traumatic brain injury related deaths. Another 18,006 hospitalizations for non-fatal traumatic brain injuries were recorded.
  • In at least 7% of fatalities and 20% of incapacitating injuries the airbags deployed and the victims were wearing their seat belts.
  • Since 2011, the following annual averages have remained consistent in the state of Florida:
    • Residents ages 15-54 had some of the highest motorcyclist injury rates
    • Residents ages 15-24 had the highest MV occupant fatality and hospitalization rates
    • In general, older residents had higher pedestrian fatality rates than younger residents Pedal cyclist injury rates were the highest for residents ages 35–64
  • References:

    Florida Department of Health

    National Safety Council

    CDC

    Avvo.com

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Leading Causes of Boat Accidents in Florida

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Although Floridians enjoy boating throughout the year, safety remains a prevalent concern for this popular pastime. In an effort to decrease the amount of boat accidents that occur, the state of Florida, along with the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, offers safety training and other programs to keep boating safe for everyone. However, many accidents still occur and it is important to know common causes and preventative measures.

The Primary Causes of Boating Accidents

Listed here are the most common causes of boating accidents in the U.S. Injuries caused by boat accidents can include drowning, head trauma, hypothermia, anoxic brain injury, and broken bones.

  • Improper Forward Watch: When operating a boat, the driver must always scan forward for anything that could potentially cross the boat’s path. Even when drifting or trolling, striking an object at slow speed can cause catastrophic damages and send a passenger overboard. Collisions most commonly result due to the operator’s lack of watch.
  • Capsizing: This is the leading cause of boating accident fatalities. Many accidents occur in twilight when light conditions and alcohol may induce poor judgment. Anchoring from the stern (rear) also increase the risk of capsizing for smaller vessels because boats are designed to cut through waves bow (front) first. A sudden gushing swell or rogue wave impacting the boat’s stern can result in instant swamping – causing the boat to capsize.
  • Man Overboard: Rough weather, choppy waters and/or abrupt maneuvering can send a boater overboard. Powerboats can turn with enough momentum shift to eject an occupant if he/she is caught off-guard or not seated securely. When a sailboat turns, the sail’s boom swings across the deck as it changes position in the wind and can easily knock a passenger into the water while causing significant trauma at the same time.

Prevention Tips for the Primary Causes of Boating Accidents

  • Preventing Improper Forward Watch: The operator/driver/captain of the boat must scan forward at all times, occasionally glancing to each side to check for other approaching vessels and other potential dangers. Check in all directions (360 degrees) prior to turning, slowing down, or changing directions. Even with power off and the boat adrift, the owner/captain must be attentive to the water surrounding the vessel.
  • Preventing Capsizing: If people are consuming alcohol on a boat, always designate a driver who will not drink, just like with an automobile. Take extra care maneuvering and docking in twilight and at night. If using an anchor, always secure it from the bow (front) of the boat, never the (stern) rear or from either side.
  • Preventing Man Overboard: Best practices include keeping everyone seated while a boat is in motion. A good powerboat captain/driver should observe passenger positions when preparing to turn to ensure everyone is secure and aware.

Two Tourists Dead after Wave Runner Crashes into Clearwater Tour Boat

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On Sunday, September 29th, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators worked to determine what led to a wave runner accident that left two tourists dead. Around 6:10pm, a rented wave runner collided with a double-deck dolphin-watch boat near the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge.

The wave runner was operated by Ramana Gadiraju, 50, and his passenger, Shubhada Kulkarni, 49, both of Lower Gwynedd, Pennsylvania. The middle-aged couple was visiting Clearwater on business and vacation, according to authorities. The tour boat was operated by Tropic Boat Tours. None of the 70 to 80 passengers aboard the tour vessel were injured.

Based on preliminary information, investigators determined the 10-foot wave runner was headed southbound in the Clearwater channel near Marker 7. The 59-foot tour boat was traveling north. The PWC struck the “dead center front” in an alarming head-on collision at a fairly high rate of speed. The tour boat captain was able to retrieve the victims from the water and began performing CPR, investigators said, but the couple was later pronounced dead by Clearwater paramedics.

The investigation will be ongoing, but officials told media members they could not confirm nor deny information from accident scene witnesses stating they believed that the two riders approached the tour boat head-on in an apparent game of “chicken”. Investigators did say the tour boat operator slowed the vessel and then put the engine in neutral, but the wave runner simply sped into the front of the ship.

Any official determination of fault is pending further investigation, though the true intentions of the PWC operator may never be known.

Reference:

Tampa Bay Times

Teen Fatality in Labor Day Boating Accident

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This past Labor Day, Katie Yule, a 15-year-old student of Keswick Christian School was fatally injured in a boating accident on Lake Seminole in Pinellas County.

The accident occurred when Katie, along with a companion, Aubree Franz, 13, of St. Petersburg, were riding on a tube together being towed behind her father’s center console motorboat. As the boat was maneuvering, the tube collided with a personal watercraft (wave-runner) being operated by Ryan Godcharles, 21, of Naples.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office, Yule died from serious internal injuries including a punctured lung. Franz survived the collision and suffered only minor injuries. Godcharles was uninjured by the accident.

Officials are continuing to investigate the crash, but early data shows that it appears to have been a tragic accident.

Friends and supporters of the Yule family fostered an outpour of support at a memorial service held at Katie’s school in the chapel on the evening following the tragedy.

Counselors and local pastors remained on campus in the days following the accident to help students cope with the loss. Pastor Jerry Busby, a member of the Keswick school board, explained how he saw Katie as a blessing to everyone she met. “She was a joyful soul and a fun friend,” said Bugsby at the Tuesday evening prayer service. “She was a follower of Jesus Christ.”

Boating Accident Claims the Life of Former Pasco County Commission Candidate

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On Sunday, September 1st, a fatal boating accident claimed the life of Joshua Griffin, 29 of Land-O-Lakes. Griffin was riding on a boat piloted by his brother, Jeffrey-Jeremiah, 32, along with a friend, Denelle Walicke, 25, when it struck a channel marker shortly before midnight close to the shore of Port Richey. Griffin was ejected from the 22 ft. Boston Whaler at the time of impact, just yards from the Hooters Boat Ramp.

Officials reported that two others were out on the boat at night following another excursion earlier that day in which the two brothers had been boating with family members and celebrating their sister’s birthday.

The father of the victim, Jeff Griffin, said, “My sons were bonded together. They were joined at the hip. Jeremy’s just devastated. This is his best friend.” Jeff explained that his son, Jeffrey-Jeremiah, had been performing CPR on his brother until emergency responders arrived. They were able to contact authorities while still afloat, after pulling Joshua back aboard.

Accident investigators believed that Griffin was thrown from the boat and collided with the channel marker just after the boat’s front right side struck the marker. The boat was believed to have been travelling between 25 to 45 mph at the time of the impact, but was able to return to shore under its own power. Pasco Fire Rescue met the ailing, but afloat vessel as it returned to shore. A blood sample was drawn from Jeffery-Jeremiah Griffin, but investigators did not comment on whether alcohol contributed to the accident. Joshua Griffin was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:15am on Monday morning.

About two years ago, Joshua Griffin ran for Pasco County Commission, but lost in the primary race to opponent Kathryn Starkey. Friends said the Griffin had aspirations of making another run for political office down the road, after building more experience and earning a law degree over the next few years. Griffin’s parents, Jeff and Danielle, regularly attended local political functions and had an active interest in local community politics.

Townsend, a family friend, had nothing but positive remarks as he expressed grief over Griffin’s unfortunate death. “He was always smiling, that’s just the way he was. He had a smile on his face. We told him he was young and had his whole life ahead of him.” Griffin worked in his family’s business as an IT Project Manager and was a graduate of the University of Tampa.

In a public statement, an official from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reiterated how this tragedy serves as a sad reminder for recreational boaters during the warm-weather holidays.

“A lot of people during a holiday weekend don’t pay attention, they are out having a good time and relaxing and that’s when bad things can happen,” said Baryl Martin, Conservation Initiative Officer, spokesperson.

Florida Leads the Nation in Boating Accidents

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With weather that allows for boating year-round, it may come as no surprise that Florida continues to lead the nation in boating accidents.

The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting conducted a study on this unfortunate ranking that the Sunshine State has held consistently for several years. The article focuses on a father’s tragic drowning while on a fishing trip with a friend and his son. The father, Kenneth Williams, was one of 67 people killed on Florida’s waterways in 2011, according to FCIR’s analysis. The nonprofit investigative journalism organization also points out that lax regulations and industry pressure are part of the problem.

Statewide Boating Statistics

There were 704 reportable boating-related accidents resulting in 386 injuries and 55 fatalities in 2012, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s latest annual report. This was a decrease from 742 reportable boating accidents resulting in 431 injuries and 67 fatalities the previous year.

Boating accidents must meet at least one of the six criteria to be classified as reportable:

  • A fatality occurs
  • A person disappears under circumstances that indicate possible death or injury
  • A person receives an injury requiring medical treatment beyond immediate first aid
  • There is at least $2,000 aggregate property damage to the vessel(s) or other property
  • There is a total loss of a vessel

Alcohol or drug-use was a primary cause of boating accidents and accounted for 11 percent of boating fatalities in 2012. A few other primary causes of boating accidents that year were:

  • Improper lookout
  • Machinery failure
  • Careless/inattention

With the preceding causes in mind, boaters are always urged not to drink and drive, to be alert at all times, and to always wear a life jacket. These messages are important not only from a safety perspective, but also from a legal one. Under Florida law, §327.352, it’s illegal to operate a boat while impaired or intoxicated. Also, under §327.50, it’s illegal to operate a boat in Florida unless every person under age 6 is wearing a life jacket. If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating accident because the operator was being careless or not paying attention you may want to consult with a personal injury attorney to discuss your legal rights.

Water Sports Accidents and Statistics

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Encouraged by year-round sunshine and warm weather, water sports and activities are common for Florida residents and tourists. As temperatures climb in summer months, involvement in water recreation activities including boating, parasailing and kayaking increases as well.

Unfortunately, water sports and boating activities also present relative dangers. Each year, carelessness and operator inexperience contribute to drowning deaths and serious anoxic brain injuries for those who survive drowning accidents.

Boating and Water Sports Accident Statistics

Unintentional drowning is the fifth leading cause of accidental deaths in the US. Below are statistics related to this type of accident:

  • One in five people who die from drowning each year are children ages 14 or below
  • 50% of drowning injury victims treated in emergency rooms required special follow-up care
  • Brain cells begin to die off after just four minutes of oxygen deprivation
  • Inexperience and speeding are responsible for 96% of all PWC (wave-runner) accidents
  • PWC renters are 25% more likely to experience an accident than owners
  • In 2012, 651 deaths and nearly 3,000 injuries resulted from recreational boating accidents
  • 85% of drowning fatality victims were reported as not wearing a life jacket or personal flotation device
  • Seven out of ten drowning victims were associated with vessels under 21 feet long

Water Sports Safety Tips

Training, education, and adherence to safety standards can help reduce the amount of water sports injuries each year. Inexperienced renters or new owners of boats, PWC, or kayaks should implement a few basic precautions to prevent serious accidents from occurring.

1. Learn How to Swim: Basic swimming ability will prepare an individual when engaging in any water-related sports or activities. This skill can also prevent a person from panicking if he/she should fall in the water. Panicked swimmers can also pose a danger to anyone attempting to pull them to safety.

2. Wear a Life Jacket / Personal Flotation Device (PFD): Strong swimming ability is not exemption from wearing a life vest. Most PFDs are designed to keep a person’s head above water if he/she is rendered unconscious.

3. Don’t Go Alone: Avoid boating, kayaking, or riding a PWC alone. Take a friend or set out with a group. If you must go out onto the water alone, set a sail plan just like a pilot sets a flight plan. Friends or family should be made aware each time you go out on the water, where you’re going, and how long you expect to be gone. Stick to your sail plan and agree to call someone once you come ashore safely.

4. Avoid Consuming Alcohol: The vessel operator should abstain from alcoholic beverages while on the water. Combined with full sun exposure and greater potential for dehydration, the effects of alcohol on the water have been proven to be more debilitating than on land. US Coast Guard statistics cited that alcohol use on the water as the highest contributing factor to fatal boating accidents.

References:

CDC – http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-Safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html

US Coast Guard (PDF) – http://www.uscgboating.org/assets/1/workflow_staging/Page/705.PDF

Arizona Boating & Watersports –http://azbw.com/10_Safety_Tips_For_Outdoor_Watersports.php

Wikipedia – PWC-related accidents – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PWC-related_accidents

Boating Accidents – How to Prevent Common Injuries

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With summertime in full swing, another boating season is upon us. Unfortunately, the increase in the number of boaters also increases the likelihood for boating accidents and related injuries. The state of Florida offers safety training and awareness programs to keep boating safe for everyone, but accidents can still happen.

3 Common Boating Accidents and Best Practices for Prevention

Below is a list of leading causes for boating-related injuries and fatalities along with recommendations for prevention:

1. Capsizing: This is the leading cause of fatalities from boating accidents. Many accidents occur in twilight when light conditions and alcohol may both play a role. Anchoring from the stern (rear) also exposes smaller vessels to an increased risk of capsizing. Boats are designed to cut through water and swells (front) first. A sudden gushing swell or rogue wave impacting the stern can swamp the boat.

Prevention: Just like a car, boaters should always designate a driver if alcohol is involved. Take extra care maneuvering and docking in twilight and at night. If using an anchor, secure it from the bow (front) of the boat, not the rear or side.

2. Improper Forward Watch: An accident can occur if the boater does not keep a watchful for anything that may cross the boat’s path. Even when drifting or trolling, striking an object at slow speed can spell disaster or send a passenger overboard. Collisions typically occur due driver distraction.

Prevention: The driver of the vessel must keep eyes forward at all times, occasionally glancing to each side to check for other approaching vessels. Check in all directions prior to turning or changing directions. Even with power off and the boat adrift, the driver must be aware of what’s happening in the water surrounding the vessel.

3. Man Overboard: Rough weather/waters and maneuvering can send a boater overboard. Powerboats turn with enough force to eject an occupant if he/she is caught off guard or is not seated securely. When a sailboat turns, the sail’s boom swings across the deck as it changes position in the wind and can easily knock a passenger into the water and cause significant injury at the same time.

Prevention: It is best to keep everyone seated while a boat is in motion. A good powerboat captain should ensure all passengers are secure when preparing to turn. On a sailboat, protocol calls for the skipper to warn occupants of an impending turn by calling out: “Prepare to jibe” and then “Jibe ho!” as the turn is executed.

Each year, injuries related to the accidents listed above affect boaters and their passengers. Best practices and limiting alcohol consumption can help prevent the following common boating related injuries:

  • Head Injuries
  • Bone Fractures
  • Hypothermia
  • Heat Exhaustion / Stroke
  • Bleeding
  • Oxygen Deprivation (Drowning)

Florida Boating Law & Safety

As of 2010, all boat operators born after 1 Jan 1988 must possess a valid boating Safety Education ID Card. The course has been designed by the state of Florida to ensure an increase in safety and personal awareness in the next generation of boaters.

Additional safety training and resources, as well of a list of all boating laws, can be found by accessing the Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission website or by contacting the US Coast Guard Auxiliary for information on additional safety and first aid training.

References:

National Assoc. of Rescue Divers – Common Boating Accidents