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Boating Accidents

Florida boasts the highest number of recreational boats nationwide, with over 1 million registered vessels in 2022, as reported by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. However, the increased number of boats on the water also brings a greater risk of potential accidents.

Shockingly, Florida had 735 boating accidents in 2022, resulting in 65 tragic fatalities. As a lifelong Florida resident, and personal injury attorney with nearly 30 years of experience, I’ve seen the devastating impact of boat accidents firsthand from catastrophic injury cases that I’ve handled. Far too often they result in serious injuries or death that could’ve been completely avoided if safety precautions were followed.

What safety measures help prevent boat accidents?

Before leaving shore, it’s crucial to prioritize safety.

  • Check the weather forecast thoroughly and remain vigilant for any sudden changes while on the water.
  • Ensure that the boat operator possesses adequate knowledge of safe operation and remains sober. In Florida, DUI laws apply to a boat operator in the same manner as a drunk driver of a car. Additionally, it’s beneficial for the boat operator to review the area and be aware of no wake zones, slow zones, speed limits, restricted areas, etc.
  • Shockingly, no boating license or safety course is required of an adult who is over 21 years of age to lawfully operate a boat in Florida. Only individuals aged 21 and under are required to complete a boating safety course and obtain a boating safety education ID card to operate a boat with 10 horsepower or more. However, Diaco Law Firm advocates for ALL boat operators to undergo proper training to prevent accidents.
Boating Accidents | Check the Weather

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Boating Accidents | Diaco Law
  • Ensure the boat has ALL the proper safety equipment for each passenger: Making a pre-departure checklist is a critical step to confirm the functionality of one’s safety and communication equipment. Having an operable two-way radio is essential for ensuring the ability to communicate during a potential emergency.
  • If you are boating far offshore, it is a very good idea to have an EPIRB, or Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. These devices emit a signal to first responders enabling them to find your precise location so they can save your life in the event of boat capsizing or other emergencies.
  • Florida law requires life jackets for all boat passengers, regardless of age. Infants need specially designed life vests, as mandated by state law. Additionally, most boats have a passenger limit that must be adhered to for safety reasons.

If a boat operator does not follow these safety precautions they could be found negligent and liable for a potential accident resulting in injury or death.

What are the most common causes of boat accidents in Florida?

Nearly half (43%) of reported boating accidents stem from operator inexperience and/or operator inattentiveness. Shockingly, out of the 65 operators involved in fatal accidents in 2022, 45 lacked formal boating education (Florida Fish andWildlife Conservation).

Other common causes of boating injuries and fatalities are:

  • Alcohol use: Impaired judgment and slowed reaction times increase the risk of accidents, potentially resulting in injuries or fatalities. Just like driving a car under the influence, boating while intoxicated can lead to legal repercussions such as fines, license suspension, and even jail time.
  • Excessive speed
  • Machinery failure
  • Weather
  • Overcrowding/ overloading the boat
Boating Under the Influence of Alcohol | Boating Accidents
Boat Safety Equipment | Boating Accidents

Do personal watercraft have to abide by the same rules as boats in Florida?

Yes, it’s important to note that in Florida, and most other states, jet skis and other personal watercraft must follow the same rules and regulations as boats. When operating a personal watercraft, like a wave runner, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and limitations as an operator.

Ensure you have sufficient fuel, always wear a life jacket, follow the local laws while operating the watercraft, and NEVER drive under the influence. If you are a personal watercraft owner, it’s important to have sufficient liability insurance, as you are responsible for any negligence resulting in injury or death, which unfortunately is very common. Personal watercraft are often entrusted to young and inexperienced operators who do not understand the unique and difficult manner in which personal watercraft are safely operated.

Wrongful Death  |  Medical Malpractice  |  Injured

Contact Diaco Law Today for a FREE Consultation

  • • No Fees or Costs •
  • • Over 20 Years Experience •
  • • Medical Bills & Costs •
  • • Wage Loss •
  • • Legal Help •
  • • Dedication •
Free Case Evaluation
Drowning Cases | Diaco Law

What are the most common injuries after a boat accident?

  • Broken bones
  • Amputated limbs
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Death: Drowning and trauma were the two leading causes of death from Florida boat accidents in 2023

Need more information on how to find a boating course near you?

If any of these injuries apply to me, how can I get compensated for my damages?

Injuries from boat accidents often require multiple experts, extensive medical treatment, including hospitalizations, surgeries, and long-term care. As a Florida personal injury lawyer practicing for nearly 29 years, Jay Diaco, has represented many boating injury victims and their families who are seeking compensation for significant boating injuries and/or death. These claims include damages for past and future economic losses, like medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and other monetary damages.

Claims also include compensation for past and future pain and suffering, emotional distress, scarring disfigurement, loss of the capacity to enjoy life, etc. Sometimes, the conduct is so egregious that it rises to the level of recklessness, which, if proven, allows for punitive damages to punish the operator in addition to compensating the victim.

Wrongful Death Cases in Florida | Diaco Law
Trucking Accidents | Diaco Law

How long do I have to pursue a personal injury claim after a boat accident?

The statute of limitations for boat accident claims in Florida in 2024 is 2 years from the date of the injury. This 2-year statute also applies to all boating injury claims, including wrongful death claims.

Why should I hire a personal injury attorney after a boat accident?

When seeking representation for a boating injury or death, one should look for an attorney with the education, experience and reputation to handle complicated claims. Hiring a Tampa personal injury law firm like Diaco Law to represent you ensures you have experienced legal advocates by your side from start to finish. At Diaco Law, we have a deep understanding of the law and a proven track record of successful outcomes in boat accident cases.

If you or a loved one has been affected by a boating accident, don’t hesitate to contact Diaco Law at (813) 221-7978. We offer free consultations with no upfront fees or costs. We only get paid if we win.

If we do hire Diaco Law, how will you handle our case?

We prioritize personalized attention for our clients, taking the time to thoroughly investigate your case, gather evidence, and build a strong legal strategy tailored to your unique circumstances. We will zealously represent you throughout the entire case, from pre-suit through trial, to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries, damages, and losses.

When you choose Diaco Law, you can trust that your case is in capable hands, allowing you to focus on your recovery while we fight for your rights.


  1. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Boating Accidents.” Florida Fish andWildlife Conservation Commission,
  2. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Boating.” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,

My experience with Diaco Law was great, they went above and beyond for me and always had my best interest first.


Taylor & Melynie were the best! They helped me with with everything, were the most kind & sweet people I’ve worked with. Hopefully I never need their type of services again but if I ever did I will choose them, always!!!


Very professional and helpful!


First time getting in an accident, Taylor and the rest of the staff at Diaco made the process easy and painless. Fought and got me more than I originally was told. No police report and they still got me what I was owed. I can’t thank you all enough!


My case had complications due to having two accidents close to one another and one of the drivers being uninsured. Diaco Law got me a settlement that I was happy with and they were very good at protecting my interests through this turbulent situation.


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Accident Information:

Provide as much of the following information as you can:

  • Details of the accident.
  • Any citations or tickets issued?
  • Insurance companies involved?
  • Describe injuries and did you go to the hospital or urgent care?
Joseph F. Diaco, Jr., Esq. | Diaco Law
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