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Florida River Boat Injuries


Florida routinely ranks #1 in the country for boating, based on watercraft sales data from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). Among the many ways Floridians and visitors enjoy the water is by taking cruises. Of course, not all cruises are open water cruises on the high seas. In fact, Florida is also home to many river cruises, which take passengers along some of the state’s pristine inland waterways. Similarly, in the southern reaches of the state, Airboats transport passengers through the Everglades.

But just like any cruise or pleasure boat tour, these inland adventures carry their share of risks.  When companies and crew fail to take reasonable precautions to safeguard the public, serious injuries and even deaths can occur. When injuries happen, count on an experienced maritime injury lawyer to help you get compensation for your injuries.

River Boats vs. Commercial Cruise Lines 

River boats are similar to cruise ships in many ways. They both transport passengers on the water, they are both staffed with a crew, and they often both serve food, beverages, and offer entertainment to the guests. But they also have some key differences. Here are just a few of the ways they differ:

River boats are much smaller

The typical cruise ship that travels in international waters will carry up to 6,000 passengers. These large vessels operate like floating cities, equipped with medical facilities, gyms, and just about anything else you can think of. For this reason, the rules and regulations that apply to them are fairly complex and require a certain level of medical care to be available, as well as access to communications. On the other hand, river boats typically carry far fewer passengers – generally around a couple hundred at most. They typically do not have expansive medical facilities, nor do they offer the full range of amenities that cruise lines provide.

River boats are generally not allowed to travel into international waters

One big distinction is the licensing rules that determine where certain types of ships can travel. Smaller vessels are often restricted to being closer to the shore.

Captain licensing (and training) is different.

Most people who are not acquainted with admiralty regulations are unaware that there are actually several levels of licensure for captains, and the training and competencies vary depending on the level of license sought. In general, the licensing levels are divided by ship tonnage. These are:

Operator License:           Uninspected vessels only

Vessels up to 100 gross tons

Up to 100 miles from shore

Master License:                Inspected vessels

Carrying 7 or more passengers


Inspected vessels

Up to 200 miles from shore (or traveling only on inland waters)

Inland Designations:   There are also various designations for captains who are limited in tonnage or who only operate near coastal or on inland waterways. These generally require less training.

How River Boat Accidents Happen 

Often, a negligent river boat company will create situations that lead to passenger injuries. For instance, common negligence may include:

  • Over-serving alcohol to passengers
  • Understaffing the boat
  • Cutting corners on safety features
  • Failing to have adequate medical supplies
  • Failing to properly train and supervise the crew
  • Poor or inadequate repairs and maintenance
  • Bad design or faulty aftermarket modifications

What to Do if Injured in a River Boat Accident 

If you or someone you love are injured while on a Florida river boat or any other type of vessel – whether near shore or on the high seas – call an experienced maritime injury lawyer to learn more about your rights. Michael F. Guilford, P.A. represents injured people throughout the state in both state and federal injury cases. Contact us today for help.



  • American Association for Justice
  • Florida Justice Association
  • Bar Register Preeminent Lawyers
  • American Association for Justice

It's Your Time To Win

Contact the Law Offices of Michael F. Guilford, P.A. for a free initial consultation with Michael Guilford. Flexible appointment times are available. If you can't come to us, we will come to you. Call toll free 866-473-2636 or describe your injuries in an email.

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Michael F. Guilford, P.A.

Courthouse Tower, Suite 750
44 West Flagler St.
Miami, FL 33130

Toll Free: 866-473-2636
Phone: 305-539-1999
Fax: 305-539-1998