Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

Maritime Personal Injuries and Boating Accidents

According to the 2008 Florida Boating Accident Statistical Report, Florida has the highest number of registered boating vessels in the United States. Florida also has the highest number of boating accidents with a total of 657 reported accidents in 2008 and Monroe County reporting the highest number of incidents.

Perry Maritime Law Group has decades of experience with boating accidents and the steps necessary to protect yourself if you are involved in a boating accident.

In the state of Florida in 2008, boaters falling overboard were the main cause of boating fatalities. The numbers continue to grow every year.

Boating education is critical. As evidenced in this 2008 Boating Accidents Statistical Report, there were 657 reportable boating accidents and 54 boating-related fatalities. Many of these deaths were due to victims falling overboard or capsizing their boats and drowning. A large number of these deaths could have been prevented if the victims had worn life jackets. We continue to increase our efforts to reduce the number of boating-related fatalities through enhanced enforcement and education about the importance of wearing life jackets on the water these statistics reflect data from “reportable boating accidents” that occurred in our state.

Boating accidents must involve at least one of the following incidents for it to be classified as “reportable”: A person dies, a person disappears under circumstances that indicate possible death or injury, a person receives an injury requiring medical treatment beyond immediate first aid, or, there is at least $2,000 aggregate property damage to the vessel(s) or other property. The number of recreational vessels registered in the State of Florida fell slightly in 2008. With 1,010,359 registered vessels, Florida leads the nation in registered vessels. Additionally, it is estimated that up to 1 million non-registered boats actively use Florida's waters, and this segment of the boating population has been growing rapidly. Our waterways increasingly show the strains of congestion as each year brings more residents and visitors to utilize our abundant water resources and enjoy the Florida boating lifestyle.

If you have an accident on the water, or you are seamen that have been injured or are sick, then you need the team at Perry Maritime Law Group, P.A.

Speed Boat Hits Marker


Boating Accident Review

Total number of registered vessels in Florida continues to lead the nation with 1,010,359 registered in 2008 (16,684 below 2007 records).

There were 657 total reportable boating accidents in 2008. Property damage totals increased 155% in 2008 primarily due to a fire in Miami-Dade County that resulted in $15,000,000 in damages to three vessels.

2008 Reportable Boating Accidents

72% of the Operators involved in reportable boating accidents had no formal boater education. Monroe County reported the highest number of accidents and injuries (98 total accidents with 7 fatalities and 44 injuries).

2008 Reportable Boating Fatalities

In 2008 boaters falling overboard was the main cause of boating fatalities. This trend, although preventable, continues to grow. 38% of the fatal accidents involved falling overboard (19 accidents with 25 victims)

57% of the fatal accidents were in vessels less than 17 feet in length. 18% of the fatal accidents involved non-motorized vessels. The leading cause of death in fatal boating accidents was drowning (70%). 63% of the fatal accidents occurred when the victim involuntarily entered the water and drowned. The deadliest month in 2008 was May, with 9 fatalities. March and April followed, with 7 each. 28% of the boating fatalities were caused by alcohol or drug use. 70% of the victims of fatal boating accidents were males (45). The total fatality count for 2008 is reported as 54.

2008 Reportable Boating Injuries

There were 386 reported injuries in 2008 involving 925 vessels and 29 swimmers. The rate of injury was .58 per accident.

2008 Reportable Personal Watercraft Accidents

Personal watercraft (PWC) account for 12.8% of all registered vessels in Florida. PWC were involved in 25% (168) of reported boating accidents. 59% of PWC accidents involved a collision with another vessel. 13% of total boating fatality victims were on a PWC. Over 38% of PWC accidents occurred in Miami-Dade, Monroe and Pinellas Counties, with Pinellas ranked as number #1 (with 27 accidents).

2008 Boating Education Statistics

FWC issued 23,294 Boater Education ID cards in 2008. 53.5% of the cards were issued to persons 21 years of age or younger.

2008 Non-Motorized Vessel Fatalities

20% of all fatal boating accident victims were using a non-motorized vessel. Vessels involved included canoes (2), Kayaks (4), and jon/rowboats (3). 91 % of fatal non-motorized vessel accident victims drowned. Two of the non-motorized vessel fatalities involved rented vessels (canoes).

Anyone having questions concerning this report should visit and follow the link to Resources and links:


Death on the High Seas Act

When a seaman dies as a result of an employer's negligence or because of an unseaworthy vessel, the worker's family may file for benefits under the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). The incident must occur on the high seas beyond a marine league (three miles) from the shore of any state. The decedent's wife, husband, parent, child may file a claim under the stipulations of the DOHSA.

A plaintiff usually receives damages for pecuniary loss caused by the loss of the deceased seaman's services. A DOHSA suit must commence within three years from the date of the seaman's death. If the decedent's negligent conduct contributed to the accident the award will be reduced accordingly.


The Death on the High Seas Act has been applied to victims of airline disasters. Under DOSHA, the deceased representatives may only recover economic losses. DOHSA applies to accidents “on the high seas.” Under current law, DOHSA applies to the Egyptair Flight 990 disaster, which occurred on international waters, and has been raised as a defense in other crashes despite the fact that those disasters occurred on territorial waters and not on the high seas.

TWA flight 800 crashed just beyond a marine league of New York on take off, killing all aboard. Among the decedents were many children whose parents could assert little actual pecuniary loss resulting from their unfortunate deaths. In response to the public outcry and media attention focused on airline safety, Congress soon undertook the task of amending DOHSA to allow recovery for loss of consortium, care, and companionship in all cases of “commercial aviation accidents.” This measure passed the U.S. Congress and became law in April 2000. On April 5, 2000, a new amendment to DOHSA became law. The amendment applies retroactively to commercial aviation accidents which occur after July 16, 1996 (the day before the TWA 800 disaster).

The DOHSA amendment confirms the ruling of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in the TWA 800 case that DOHSA does not govern accidents that occur within 12 miles of the United States shoreline. As a result, state law remedies, including punitive damages and conscious pain and suffering, may be recoverable against the airlines and others and not restricted by the Death on the High Seas Act. The amendment further provides that for airline, helicopter, and other aviation accidents beyond 12 miles, DOSHA applies, but additional non-pecuniary damages are recoverable, which are defined as “care, comfort, and companionship.” The amendment does not address whether DOHSA applies to foreign territorial waters.

Those crashes outside 12 nautical miles from the shores of the United States will still fall under the Death on the High Seas Act. Under the amendment, however, compensation for non-pecuniary damages will be allowed in addition to pecuniary damages for commercial crashes. Non-pecuniary damages will be permitted only for the loss of care, comfort and companionship in death actions arising from commercial aviation accidents. Commercial aviation involves transport “for compensation or hire.” Thus where persons are killed in “commercial” accidents on the high seas (typically the airline, commuter and charter passengers) the culpable defendants may be forced to pay non-pecuniary damages on top of pecuniary damages.

General aviation accidents on the high seas involving corporate aircraft and privately owned aircraft are excluded. Helicopter flights over water that do not involve compensation or hire, will not be covered by the amended DOHSA. Similarly, public-use aircraft accidents and military aircraft accidents are still subject to the limitations of the 80-year-old Death on the High Seas Act, whereby only pecuniary damages can be recovered.

Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA): 46 U.S.C. Sec. 761-68

Contact Us Today

The Perry Maritime Law Group is committed to providing competent, cost-effective legal representation in matters involving maritime law, as well as the acquisition and registration of yachts, boats, and other vessels. Please call our toll-free number for a consultation, and we will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. We invite you to contact the YachtLawyer, James Perry, today to schedule an appointment.

Perry Maritime Law Group, P.A.
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