Palm Bay Jet Ski Accident Lawyer
Palm Bay auto wreck attorneys representing Brevard County, Florida
Riding a jet ski, or personal watercraft (PWC, can be a thrilling way to enjoy the water. Mechanical power and the potential for high speeds make jet skis especially attractive to adrenaline junkies. With more people of all experience levels bringing watercraft of all types onto Florida’s waterways, the potential for accidents has increased dramatically in recent years.
Inexperienced Jet Ski riders
Inexperience is one of the most common factors in jet ski accidents. Florida requires people who rent jet skis to be a minimum of 18 years old. However, the law permits people as young as 14 to operate a jet ski. Individuals who are 14 or older must also successfully complete a boating education course approved by the National State Boating Law Administrators or pass an equivalent course or certification exam. After meeting the education or exam requirement, the individual must have a boating education ID card and a photo ID card in his or her possession when operating a jet ski.
Florida's minimum age requirement leaves room for younger, less experienced riders to legally operate PWCs on the state’s waterways. Moreover, some families allow children to operate jet skis at even younger ages. Younger people are more likely to have spent less time on the water. However, new PWC riders of all ages should exercise caution as they gain more experience.
The Personal Watercraft Act of 2005 classifies certain behaviors as recklessly operating a PWC. Jet ski riders are not permitted to weave through congested water vessel traffic. Beginners should especially avoid crowded areas until they have taken multiple rides and gained experience on the water. Following too closely to another vessel or jumping the wake of another vessel from a distance of 100 feet or less is also considered reckless. PWC operators should not wait until the last minute to avoid a collision. Jet skis must travel at a slow or no wake speed when within 100 feet of a moored or anchored vessel, dock, shoreline, or person. Generally disregarding the area’s navigational rules can be classified as behaving recklessly.
Speeding in Florida PWC accidents
Excess speed creates a hazard on Florida’s waterways. PWCs do not have brakes. Therefore, they require a much larger stopping distance to allow the user to shift into a reverse mode to slow down. Today’s PWCs are capable of reaching speeds of up to 70 mph. Parents have a responsibility to supervise minors and to use the training key or programmable speed limiter when teaching teens to operate a jet ski.
Alcohol or drug use
People are typically on vacation or enjoying time off from everyday life when they venture out onto the water. For some, the vacation mindset lends itself to alcohol consumption and drug use. Operating a PWC while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is extremely dangerous and should be avoided. Common stressors like the sun, wind, noise, vibrating sensations of the watercraft, and the natural motion of the water can affect a sober person while on the water. Intoxication further intensifies the effects these elements can have.
Injuries in Palm Bay Jet Ski crashes
Jet ski accidents can potentially cause many different types of injuries, depending on the nature of the crash. Head injuries are most common and occur if the head makes contact with the PWC or with the water at a high speed. For this reason, helmets are highly encouraged when riding a jet ski. Wrist and ankle fractures are also common injuries due to the impact of falling. Jet skis produce a powerful stream of water called the jet stream or jet drive. Landing in the path of the stream can cause internal and external injuries. Spinal cord injuries are among the more serious injuries that can occur if the individual lands in choppy water on his or her back. If a collision causes a PWC to ignite, burn injuries are also possible.
Consequences of negligent or reckless Jet Ski use
Disregarding navigational rules may seem like a victimless crime until someone gets hurt. Individuals who behave negligently or recklessly are liable for the other party’s injuries in the event of an accident. Therefore, those who engage in practices prohibited by the Personal Watercraft Act may be held legally responsible for injuries caused by their behavior. Not only are individuals who weave into high traffic areas or operate a PWC at excessive speeds liable in the event of an accident. Parents or guardians who allow underage minors to operate a jet ski may also face legal consequences if an accident occurs. Parents may also be liable if a teen who has not completed the necessary education or exam requirements becomes involved in an accident while operating a jet ski. In some cases, liability may even extend to a person who allows someone else to borrow his or her jet ski if the other person causes an accident.
Compensation for Jet Ski injuries
People who are injured as a result of someone else’s negligent or reckless operation of a jet ski may be entitled to receive compensation. The injured party may file a claim for medical expenses and lost wages if the injury requires time away from work. More severe injuries may require an extended period of medical treatment, rest, and physical therapy. People who experience major life changes as a result of severe injury may also receive compensation for pain and suffering. In jet ski accidents that result in the injured party’s death, the victim’s family may file a claim on the victim’s behalf.
Contacting a Palm Bay Jet Ski accident attorney
If you or someone you know has been injured in a jet ski accident, contact a Palm Bay personal injury lawyer. Your attorney will advise you of your legal options and help you make the best decisions for you and your family. It may be tempting to accept the first settlement offer you receive. However, the other party’s insurance company does not represent the best interests of the injured. A Florida accident lawyer will fight for your right to fair compensation and stand up on your behalf against insurance company lawyers.