Every year since 2015, Florida has ranked No. 1 when it comes to the number of recreational boating accidents and on-the-water deaths. The U.S. Coast Guard has also reported that the Florida Keys see the highest number of these incidents in the state.
In its 2019 Recreational Boating Statistics Report, the Coast Guard reported 679 boating accidents that year, 55 of which were fatal. In all, 62 people died in these incidents. The Keys were the setting for 90 of the accidents and 6 of the fatalities. Coming in at second place was California with 324 accidents and 39 fatalities. Texas, which came in third, saw 184 accidents with 43 deaths.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a report that most of the accidents and fatalities arose in Monroe and Miami-Dade counties. They say that the Keys have been the site of so many deadly accidents because of the large numbers of people there who boat, dive and fish. The weather there can permit boating all year.
The Coast Guard adds that alcohol is the leading factor in all boating accidents nationwide. Ninety percent of fatally injured boating accident victims were not wearing a life vest. Eighty percent of fatalities were due to drowning. A lack of boating safety instructions is behind many accidents.
Boating accidents can form the basis for a personal injury case; for example, victims may file a claim against a boat operator who was drunk or inattentive, against the manufacturer of the boat or against the company that rented it out. To see if they have a strong case on their hands, victims may want to hire a lawyer. The lawyer may help gather evidence of negligence and negotiate for a reasonable settlement out of court.