Florida Boat Collision Highlights Importance of Understanding the “Rules of the Road”

A Florida boat accident recently made national headlines after nine people were injured. The crash involved a 36-foot Carrera carrying 16 passengers, which was struck by a 28-foot vessel carrying two people. The crash occurred in the busy waters of Biscayne Bay near Elliot Key.

While both boat operators tested negative for alcohol, investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are looking into whether any Florida boating rules were violated. "Whenever there is an accident on Florida's waterways its incumbent upon both captains of the respective vessels to maintain a proper lookout," Officer Jorge Pino said. He also mentioned that they were very fortunate that the injuries caused in the T-bone collision were not more serious.

As we have previously disused on this Florida Injury Blog, boaters have a number of obligations on the water. Much like on land, there are certain “rules of the road” that must be followed when passing or crossing paths with another vessel. Below are a few of the most important rules: Post a lookout. Designate someone to watch for dangers that may come from any direction. Maintain a safe speed. Except where speed is restricted by regulation or the waterway is marked by a “No Wake” or “Slow Speed” Aid, you must judge “safe speed” for yourself, taking into account visibility, vessel traffic, your boat’s ability to maneuver, and the weather conditions. Avoid a collision.

The Rules of the Road include the actions to take when encountering another vessel on the water. Some of the most common situations you may encounter are: overtaking, meeting head-on, and crossing the bow of another vessel. In each case, the boat designated as the “give-way” vessel is required to yield to the other boat, while the boat designated as the “stand-on” vessel should maintain its course and speed. When meeting another vessel head-on, a port-to-port passing is preferred. Passing starboard-to-starboard is acceptable when necessary.

In a crossing situation, the give-way vessel must act to avoid a collision. This may include altering its course to pass astern of the stand-on vessel or slowing down. The stand-on vessel should maintain its course and speed Boaters who fail to follow these rules can face a number of consequences, including both criminal charges and a personal injury lawsuit by anyone injured in a crash.

The Dellutri Law Group is focused on making bad situations better and putting lives back together. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Naples accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. To learn more about your legal options, contact our experienced Naples injury attorneys for a free consultation.