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Reporting an Accident, Hit and Run Boating Accidents, and Other Seldom-Known Maritime Laws


The recent death of two Fort Lauderdale boaters, and the injury of a third, reminds all of us here in South Florida that the open ocean is never a truly safe and sound place. And, when other boaters are added into the mix, accidents are bound to happen. But what are the laws surrounding boating accidents?

Hit and Run on the Water

Should an accident occur, the operator must stay at the scene to help any injured parties on the scene. Failure to do so can result in a third-degree felony. If you have been involved in a boating incident that resulted in injuries to yourself or your property and the operator did not stay on the scene to assist you, please do not hesitate to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. The same laws and duties of care that exist for driving, exist on the water as well.

Who’s Responsible? 

Whereas people almost always drive their own car, boats are often owned by individuals who don’t regularly operate, or even travel on, the watercraft themselves. According to Florida Statute 327.32 the liability for reckless or careless operation of a vessel lies strictly with the operator of that vessel, and not the owner. One exception, however, is if the owner is operating the vessel or present at the time of the accident. As the party being held responsible for any injuries or damages, an operator of a boat with a motor of 10 horsepower or more must have a Florida Boating Safety Education ID card in addition to a photo ID. Just like a driver’s license, this is meant to ensure that the person in charge of the boat is aware of the waterway’s rules of the road.

Reporting an Accident

According to the Division of Law Enforcement at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission there are five scenarios in which an operator of a vessel must report an accident. These include situations in which:

  • A person dies;
  • A person disappears in a manner that suggests they may have been injured or died;
  • An injury was caused that required attention beyond what a first aid kit could provide;
  • A vessel is completely destroyed; and
  • Property damage (including damage to the vessel itself) exceeds $2,000.

These reports, along with other evidence, can be used in any personal injury claims that came about as a result of the accident. As experienced maritime law attorneys, we know which documents and evidence to compile in order to support your claim to any insurance company or civil court.

For any Injuries or Property Damage Caused by Another Boater, Call a Miami Attorney at Once

There are several similarities between driving a car and operating a boat, and if done negligently, both can result in personal injury cases. Unfortunately, because few people are well-versed in maritime law, many people are injured on boats and don’t realize that they should file a personal injury lawsuit so they can be compensated properly for their pain and suffering. If you were injured by another party’s negligence, call the Miami Law Offices of Michael F. Guilford, P.A. today at 305-359-1999 for immediate legal 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