Articles Posted in Boating Accident

American Lake in Lakewood, Washington, was the site of a horrific and tragic boating accident on March 1, 2009. That afternoon, David Kenny “DK” Ross, 14 years old at the time, was operating a kayak in the lake. DK was traveling to spend the day with his father on Silcox Island, when he was unexpectedly run over by a motor boat operated by McKinley Randle.

DK suffered horrible and life-altering injuries as a result of the event, which have left him physically and mentally handicapped. The injuries apparently include traumatic brain injury, in addition to neck injury and a collapsed lung.

The parents of DK allege that Mr. Randle was operating his boat in a negligent manner, in that he was “traveling too fast and not keeping a proper lookout.”

The State of Florida and in particular, South Florida, is a hotbed for boating accidents. Surrounded by ocean and with warm weather on a daily basis, the potential for accidents on the water are countless. The problem is heightened by the fact that many individuals who operate boats do not have the experience or knowledge of the rules of the water and boating safety generally. Adding to the danger, Florida does not require a boating license to operate a personal vessel if over a certain age (only a standard Driver’s License is needed) and operators are not required to take a safety course if over a certain age. This lays the way for potentially catastrophic accidents, similar to that experienced by DK in Washington.

At Jay Halpern and Associates, we cater to all types of vehicular accidents, including boating and automobile collisions. Boating accidents can be very complex and boats follow a different set of rules altogether than automobiles, known as the Navigation Rules. Two of the most important rules of boating are to keep a proper look out and to travel at a safe speed so as to avoid collision. This means that when a boating accident occurs, both vessels are considered at least partially negligent for the resultant collision.

In addition to boating accidents, we also handle all types of injuries, including traumatic brain injuries like those experienced by DK. We also handle severe spinal injury, compound fractures and even less serious muscle and ligament injuries.
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The State of Florida has more boating accidents than any of the other 49 states. This is for a number of reasons including the sheer number of boaters and the numerous waterways surrounding and throughout the state. The South Florida area has a particularly high number of boat accidents as boaters are able to use the waterways year around.

The following is a horrific example of the potential hazardous and dangerous situation that can occur with the operation of a boat, like any other motor vehicle:

During the Easter holiday in 2005, two young girls took out a personal water craft (PWC) or Waverunner in hopes of a quick and fun ride off of North Flagler Drive in the West Palm Beach area of South Florida. Minutes later the two girls were involved in a tragic accident, colliding with another boat while traveling very fast. One of the girls suffered severe brain damage and other physical injuries, while the other young girl died at the scene.

The attorneys for the young girls are suing Yamaha claiming that the Waverunner had defective steering that only allowed the watercraft to steer while it was accelerating. They argue that the girls were unable to steer away from the boat prior to the collision. The attorneys argue that Yamaha knew about the steering problem and should have corrected it in this watercraft. Yamaha was the last of the PWC manufacturers to correct this steering issue in 2003 and the young girls were operating a 2001 model. The attorneys are also making a claim for punitive damages, claiming that Yamaha showed a “reckless indifference for human life.”

Yamaha’s defense claims that if the girls had known how to properly operate the PWC, they would have been able to avoid the collision. Furthermore, they argue that the girls were operating the PWC illegally because they were under 16 years of age, the minimum age to operate a PWC in Florida.

Opening arguments for both sides took place last week in Palm Beach County, Florida.
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