PERSONAL WATERCRAFT – Florida

As summer approaches, more and more boats and personal watercrafts (PWC’s) will be in the Gulf of Mexico, the intercoastal waterways, lakes and rivers enjoying the great outdoors. Therefore, we urge you to “be safe and enjoy the water.” Whether you own your own boat or personal watercraft or you rent a boat or personal watercraft (wave runner or jet ski) for some “fun in the sun,” THINK SAFETY!

Each year hundreds of people are injured in Florida.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there were 135,935 registered personal watercraft (PWC) in the State of Florida as of 2007. In 2007, there were 161 reported personal watercraft accidents resulting in 16 fatalities and 128 injuries. In addition, these PWC accidents caused $329,643.00 in property damage.

Miami-Dade, Monroe and Pinellas counties led the state with the largest numbers of accidents and injuries. Some of those injured rented the personal watercraft from places like: Biscayne Bay, Clearwater, Clearwater Beach, John’s Pass, Key Largo, Madeira Beach, Marco Island, Miami Beach, Naples, Sarasota, Sanibel/Captiva, St. Pete Beach, and Treasure Island.

The injuries in these PWC accidents ranged from broken bones (33), lacerations (25), contusions (24), head injury (20), internal injuries, (6), spinal injuries (6), back injury (5), teeth & jaw injury (4), dislocation (3) and sprain / strain (2).

THE TOP THREE (3) PRIMARY CAUSES OF THE PWC ACCIDENTS:

  • 1. Operator Inattention (30)
  • 2. Excessive Speed (26)
  • 3. No proper look-out (25)

FLORIDA PERSONAL WATERCRAFT LAWS

  • Each person operating, riding on, or being towed behind a personal watercraft must wear an approved non-inflatable Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device (PFD). Inflatable PFDs are prohibited for personal watercraft use.
  • The operator of a personal watercraft must attach the engine cutoff switch lanyard (if equipped by the manufacturer) to his/her person, clothing or PFD.
  • Personal watercraft may not be operated from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, even if navigation lights are used. Remember, both federal and state law requires the use of navigation lights from sunset to sunrise.
  • Maneuvering a personal watercraft by weaving through congested vessel traffic, jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably close or when visibility around the vessel is obstructed or swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision is classified as reckless operation of a vessel (a first-degree misdemeanor).
  • A person must be at least 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft in Florida.
  • A person must be at least 18 years of age to rent a personal watercraft in Florida.
  • It is unlawful for a person to knowingly allow a person less than 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft (a second-degree misdemeanor).
  • Anyone 21 years of age or younger is required to either have successfully completed a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating education course or have passed a course equivalency or temporary certificate examination and have in their possession a boating education ID card and a photo identification card before operating a vessel with a motor of 10 HP or more in Florida. Identification cards for persons completing the course or the equivalency exam are good for a lifetime. Temporary Certificate exams are made available to the public through contractors. The temporary certificate is valid for 12 months from the issue date.

Law enforcement officers of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, sheriff’s deputies of the various counties, and any other authorized enforcement officer, shall have the authority to order the removal of vessels deemed to be an interference or hazard to public safety, enforce all boating safety laws, or cause any inspection to be made of all vessels in accordance to state law. A law enforcement officer may stop any vessel for the purpose of checking for compliance with boating safety equipment requirements.

If you have been involved in an accident – YOU MAY DOWNLOAD FLORIDA ACCIDENT REPORT FORM by clicking on the link below.
http://www.pwcsafetyschool.com/florida/florida-boat-accident-report-2005.pdf

IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAS BEEN INJURED, CALL THE TRIPP LAW FIRM FOR A FREE CONSULTATION TO DISCUSS YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS 1 (888) 392-LAWS (5297). Our on-call staff is available to speak with new clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If a potential new client is physically unable to visit our office, we’ll arrange to have one of our firm representatives meet with him or her in his or her home or hospital room.

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