A recent report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission indicates 2020 was the deadliest year for boaters in Florida in at least a decade.
The report, released Friday, May 7, revealed there were 836 boating accidents in the state in 2020, the most since 2011 and a 16 percent increase over 2019. There were 79 total boating deaths in the state last year, also representing the most since at least 2011, a 21 percent increase from 2019.
The leading cause of death presented in the report was people drowning after falling overboard. Of the people who fell overboard and drowned, 88 percent were not wearing a life jacket, something officials pointed to as further evidence that life jackets are crucial life-saving tools for people on the water.
In addition, nearly half of the accidents that occurred in 2020 involved collisions in which vessel operators were distracted, or when there were not proper lookouts being maintained. These operators are either not paying enough attention, or simply are not recognizing hazards on the water when they occur.
The most common cause of accidents in Manatee County waws operator inexperience. But drinking and boating was also a big problem statewide.
Boating safety a must
Florida has a large, thriving boating culture, thanks to its year-round nice weather and massive amount of shoreline. But there are still far too many accidents and fatalities that occur each year, which could be prevented with greater attention and adherence to safety policies. This includes the use of personal protective equipment/floatation devices, not drinking and boating, and avoiding distractions while operating a vessel.
If you or a loved one have been injured due to a boat operator’s negligence, contact an experienced Sarasota attorney at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez & Walsh for more information about how to proceed with your claim.