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Thinking about going out for a ride in a charter airboat nearby?  Well, you might want to think about it a little more as two more people died in an airboat collision in Melbourne yesterday.  Here are some things you should be aware of.

In the state of Florida, you don’t need any type of special license to operate a boat.  In fact, according to the law, any person who was born prior to 1988 doesn’t have to have certification in order to drive a boat.  A person born after January 1, 1988 will have to acquire a Boating Safety Education ID card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.  Once this card is obtained, it is valid for life.

A common type of boat used in Florida is the air boat and air boat tours are extremely popular. Even though most air boat operators have plenty of experience, there is no type of requirement for these boats to have safety devices, such as windshields, airbags or seat belts.  In fact, these boats don’t have any brakes and they are usually operated at high speeds.  Also, because of the design of the boat, they may stop short if driven over dry land.  Trust me, been there and done that!

The location of an airboat accident — whether in “non-navigable” waters or “navigable” waters—influences the outcome of a boating accident case. Much of Florida’s Everglades and waterways is made up of landlocked ponds, and as such, is considered by state and Federal standards as “non-navigable.”  If the boating accident in which you were involved occurred on non-navigable waters, then Florida state law will govern. However, a waterway that could be used to transport a boat to the ocean or between two states is considered “navigable.”  If an accident occurred on navigable waters, the Federal maritime law will govern the accident.

Why This Would Matter in Your Case.

Under Florida state law, the standard of care owed to passengers is much greater — in fact, it is equivalent with the highest degree of care that is consistent with that particular type of transportation.

So, Who Would Be Liable: The Company or the Operator?

Should an airboat operator fail to adhere to the rules outlined in the Florida Statutes, the operator can be charged with careless and reckless driving. However, the airboat company may also be responsible for the actions of it’s employee.

Here at Marianne Howanitz, P.A., we are all too familiar with the different types of Florida boating accidents and the injuries associated with them.  If you or a loved one have been injured in a boating accident, contact us today at 352-512-0444 to schedule a free initial consultation.