Articles Posted in Jet Ski Accidents

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NFL footballer Donte Stallworth and his girlfriend were involved in a scary accident recently when the hot air balloon in which they were traveling crashed into a string of power lines in South Florida.

Our Vero Beach injury lawyers understand that while the pair suffered some burns, they are expected to make a full recovery.

While the incident is being investigated by both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, it’s a good opportunity to point out that this is one of the many ways in which tourists risk injury when they vacation in Florida.

Many operators in this state follow the appropriate safety standards, properly maintain their equipment and provide the necessary training to personnel and patrons. Some don’t. Tragedies do happen.

Jet skis in particular have a well-deserved reputation for danger.

One spring afternoon two years ago, rapper Sean Kingston and a passenger were critically injured after crashing a jet ski into a Miami bridge. Injuries included a torn aorta, fractured wrists, water in the lungs and a broken jaw. The crash was determined to be caused by operator inexperience and carelessness.

Then last summer, singer Usher’s 11-year-old stepson was rendered brain-dead and later died after being struck by a jet ski while he sat in an inner tube in Lake Lanier outside of Atlanta.

The National Association of Rescue Divers recommends the following to ensure safety with regard to jet ski use:
–Take at least one lesson on usage to ensure you understand the controls and features;
–Wear the proper safety equipment – eye wear, tennis or deck shoes, life jacket, etc.;
–Keep the safety lanyard attached to you;
–Stay way from wildlife and swimming areas;
–Never operate a jet ski at night;
–Passengers under 18 should wear a helmet;
–Don’t operate the jet ski if you’ve been drinking.

Another popular tourist activity in Florida is parasailing. Millions of vacationers do it safely every year. However a few years ago, two teen sisters on vacation in Pompano Beach were in the air, tethered to a speed boat. The weather suddenly turned, and despite the girl’s cries to be brought down, the boat kept going. The tow line snapped. The wind caught the chute with the girls attached. They were flung into the roof of a nearby hotel. One of them died. Another suffered permanent brain damage.

That is not an accident. That’s negligence. For a number of reasons, it should never have happened.

There are few governmental inspections or regulations for parasailing equipment, so patrons should take the time to research operators. Florida has roughly 240 statewide.

Before heading out, ask the following questions:
–How long as the company been in business?
–Is the company licensed?
–Does it exist in a well-established location?
–Is the boat captain a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain?
–Is the current weather safe for sailing?
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It’s officially the summertime and both residents and visitors of the area will be flocking to our sandy beaches at every spare moment. During this time of the year, our beaches can be a lot of fun but they can also be very dangerous. For this reason, we’d like to discuss some beach safety pointers to help to reduce the risks of a needless beach accident in Fort Lauderdale and elsewhere.

The Greater Fort Lauderdale area has nearly 25 miles of sun-kissed beaches, which are all just a hop, skip and a jump away from local restaurants, hotels and other fun activities but they’re also one wrong move from a hospital room.

Our Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys understand that this is a fun, and dangerous, time of the year. Both residents and visitors are urged to be cautious when visiting our sandy beaches. There are a few simple beach safety tips and rules that can help to keep your and your family safe during your summer’s beach excursions. Be sure to review the following and to share them with your loved ones to help to keep everyone safe.

Beach Safety Tips:

-Always stay within 50 yards of the shoreline. Remember that the ocean’s current can pull you out to sea in the blink of an eye. Stay near the shore and near other people.

-Never swim alone.

-When possible, swim within areas that are covered by lifeguards.

-Always obey instructions from lifeguards.

-Keep your alcohol in designated areas.

-Landscape materials are meant to make the beach even prettier. Help to protect its environmental integrity. Do not affix any items (hammocks, bicycles, beach chairs, etc) to plants or trees along our beach.

-Keep vehicles off of the beach, in most areas it’s forbidden.

-Keep an eye on where pets are and are not allowed.

-Refrain from feeding the birds.

-When in the water, be on the lookout for boats, jet skis and other personal watercraft. While they’re supposed to be looking out for you, you can’t always rely on others. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

-Do not stand on the rocks in or around the water. These rocks can be very dangerous and can contribute to some serious injuries.

-Beach goers are only allowed to snorkel within 50 yards of the shoreline.

-Be sure to only surf and skimboard in permitted areas.

-Remember that all surfboards and bodyboards must be used with a leash to prevent injury to others.

-Glass containers are strictly prohibited on our beaches.

Beach-related injuries can result from a number of scenarios. Beach goers are encouraged to make sure that their belongings are properly secured. Oftentimes gusts of wind can pick up and carry items along the shore line, posing serious risks for other beach goers. Always be cautious of your surroundings and make sure that you keep safety as a number one priority this summer. It’s not a bad idea to slap on some sunscreen either. Get out there, have fun and be safe.
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The LA Times is reporting that singer Sean Kingston is going to recover from his injuries after a Miami jet ski accident.

Our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys know how dangerous jet skis can be and represent many victims involved in Florida watercraft accidents.

Sean Kingston was on a jet ski with a female passenger when he struck the Palm Island Bridge. Both were rushed to a nearby Miami hospital. The female passenger escaped serious injuries while Kingston suffered a fractured jaw, water in his lungs and a broken wrist. It was reported that the female passenger believed they were traveling too fast, and when Kingston tried to avoid hitting the bridge, he lost control. The investigation revealed that alcohol did not play a role in the accident.

There are more than 40,000 personal watercraft (PWC) vehicles registered in South Florida. It is little wonder that dozens of riders are injured every year. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in 2009, more than 34 percent of PWC crashes happened in Monroe, Pinellas and Bay Counties. Monroe had the most accidents at 25. The majority of PWC injuries are from the watercraft hitting another vessel, crashing into a fixed object or the operator falling off the watercraft. Most accidents are due to speeding, driver inexperience and inattention.

Florida law states no one younger than 14 can operate a PWC, and no one younger than 18 can lease or rent a PWC. Operating a PWC is allowed between sunrise and sunset. It is illegal to weave in and out of congested waterway traffic, play “chicken” and jump wakes that are too close to that vessel.

Personal Watercraft safety tips:

-Take a personal watercraft safety course.

-Wear a life jacket and attach the engine cut-off lanyard to your wrist or life jacket.

-Don’t drink and ride.

-Be alert to your surroundings.

-Keep at least 50 feet away from other vessels. Remember PWC’s have no brakes.

-Never ride at night.

-Most accidents happen with borrowed or rented machines. If you do lend out your machine, educate the one you are lending it to on how to use it safely.
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Similar to ATVs, jet skis and other personal watercraft present to their riders risks of accidents and injuries. Just like their land counter parts, personal watercrafts can collide and overturn with the same devastating results. Jet skis and wave runners can reach speeds in excess of 70 mph and handling them safely requires significant skills.

Our Palm Beach personal injury lawyers often represent clients in cases where recklessness or negligence contributed to a Florida watercraft accident.

Recently Tampa Bay Online reported on a horrific personal watercraft accident that changed a young girls life forever. Two girls ages 14 and 15 were riding personal watercraft on Lake Gibson when the two collided. Tragically the impact severed the 14-year-old’s leg below the knee. Police divers looked for several hours trying to recover the unattached left leg.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers reported that both girls were wearing life jackets but neither had taken a boating safety course.

During 2006 through 2009 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that 42 children ages 16 and under were the victims of a personal watercraft crash. Florida had 149 injuries and 7 fatalities from 168 personal watercraft accidents in 2008. In 2009 there was 1 fatality and 152 injuries from 143 accidents.

We recently posted to our South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog about the proposed changes to laws pertaining to personal watercraft.

Personal watercraft safety tips:
-Know the features and controls of your personal watercraft.

-Wear an approved life jacket that will keep your head above the water.

-To summon help attach a whistle to your life jacket.

-Always attach the safety lanyard to you that will cut the engine if you fall off.

-Never ride at night.

-Be watchful of other vessels in the water, keep your distance, and stay at least 100 feet apart.

-Never ride after you’ve been drinking.

-Be familiar with the water you are riding in so you can avoid sandbars and rocks.

Also remember that just because you sign a waiver from a rental agency doesn’t mean they are off the hook regarding their safety obligations. That is why contacting an experienced attorney is extremely important if you are injured on rented equipment.
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Though the numbers of fatalities involving watercrafts have been declining over the last 5 years, our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers know that personal watercraft crashes and injuries are still a concern for Florida residents and tourists who visit the state on vacation.

Renting personal watercrafts is very popular among tourists but everyone needs to know the risk involved with these high powered machines in order to reduce the number of personal watercraft accidents in Fort Lauderdale.

Sponsored Bill 370 would raise the age to operate a personal watercraft from 14 to 16 years old.

The bill also wants operators of personal watercrafts born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, to have a boating safety ID card. This would mean attending and completing a boating safety class. This is the current requirement for those operating a motorboat of more than 10 horsepower.

House Bill 293 along with sponsored Bill 512 would eliminate criminal misdemeanor penalties for non-reckless accidents due to violating navigational rules. Navigational infractions that cause accidents that are deemed not reckless and don’t involve alcohol would incur fines.

The bills sponsor thinks that boating ‘fender bender’ incidents shouldn’t be going to criminal court. Accidents causing damage would have the following fines: first offenses up to $500, second offenses up to $750 and third and subsequent offenses up to $1,000.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in 2009 there were 143 personal watercraft accidents causing one fatality and 152 injuries and in 2008, there were 168 crashes causing 7 fatalities and 149 injuries.

From 2006 to 2009 a total of 42 people ages 16 or under were involved in personal watercraft crashes in the state.

Local business owners agree with increasing the age to 16, some already require potential renters of wave runners and jet skis to be 16 years old. Some of these watercrafts can reach high speeds in less than 5 seconds, which is too much horsepower for young riders.

Though the national watercraft association supports the bill, they think that 14- and 15-year-olds who already have a boating safety ID card should be grandfathered in.
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A 21-year-old Naples woman saw her $1.75 million verdict reduced to zero earlier this month after a jury failed to find the manufacturer of the 2006 Sea-Doo watercraft negligent in design of their product, the Naples Daily News reports.

She was injured during a Memorial Day ride three years ago. It was the first time she’d ridden a personal watercraft.

She sustained extensive internal injuries caused when water shot inside her from the jet thrusts after she slipped and fell from the vessel. Recovery took several months and required her to temporarily wear a colostomy bag. According to the Naples Daily News, 17 other women have been similarly injured and filed claims against several manufacturers, but her attorney was barred from sharing that information with the jury.

Florida is home for many boating and personal watercraft enthusiasts, and recreational and commercial fisherman. Sea- and shore-side activities are a major tourism draw. As the holiday season quickly approaches, beachside hotels, motels and rental properties all over South Florida will be filling up with seasonal visitors escaping the cold and longing for time in the sun.

Our Fort Lauderdale boating accident lawyers know that whether a local resident or a holiday-season guest, the use of personal watercraft such as jet skis and parasailing will draw experienced and inexperienced users alike. And that it is as much the owner’s responsibility as it is the rental agents to properly instruct operators and passengers and provide a safe riding experience.

Since 2003, 760 people have sustained personal watercraft injuries in Florida, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission reports. The most common type of accident involves striking another vessel or a stationary object and falls on or from the rig. Speeding, operator inexperience and inattention are the most common causes for personal watercraft accidents. According to FWC, 62 percent of all boating and watercraft accidents happen in just 10 counties – Monroe, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Broward Counties top that list.

Of those injured or involved in a personal watercraft accident, nearly 70 percent are using borrowed or rented equipment. The most common injuries sustained are broken bones, lacerations, contusion, head injuries and internal injuries. To avoid injury, taking a boater safety course and reading the owner’s manual, operator instructions and safety warnings before riding any type of personal watercraft is strongly recommended.
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A Chicago man and his 6-year-old daughter were injured in a parasail accident on Monday, the Miami Herald reported.

Freeman & Mallard offers free and confidential appointments to tourists injured at attractions or on rental equipment — including parasails and Jet Skis — throughout South Florida, including Miami, Margate, Hollywood, Coral Gables and West Palm Beach.

In this case, the parasail malfunctioned and bounced them across the water and into a seawall, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Rental jet skis and other water attractions pose a serious threat to the health and safety of tourists. When a tourist is injured in a Miami accident or accident elsewhere in South Florida, a rental company, parasail business or other attraction can often be held liable for the injuries.

Jet Ski and watercraft rentals are particularly dangerous. About one-third of all serious watercraft accidents injure riders with fewer than 10 hours of experience; Nearly three-quarters of accidents involve riders with fewer than 100 hours of experience. More than 150 riders were seriously injured in Florida personal watercraft accidents last year, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Miami-Dade and Broward County are ranked fourth and fifth in the state for the number of serious watercraft accidents. Like watercraft rental companies, parasailing operations have an obligation to ensure tourists and guests enjoy the water safely. When someone is injured, the company can and should be held responsible.

In this case, the father and daughter went up on the parasail about 5 p.m. Monday in the waters east of Miami’s Bayside Marketplace. The parasail had trouble during the trip and went down, dragging the pair through the water until the rope broke. At one point the two collided with a seawall until a gust of wind shot them back into the air and then dropped them onto the ground.

Both were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital for treatment.
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