Florida Boat Accidents: Understanding the Rules of Navigation

by Carmen Dellutri on July 12, 2011

Boat accident attorney floridaFlorida boat accidents involving serious injuries are often the result of a collision, often with another boat. Boat collisions are particularly dangerous because boat passengers are not protected by air bags and seatbelts, as they are in a car or truck. As a result, passengers are often thrown overboard by the force of the impact.

Similar to the rules of the road used to prevent collisions on Florida’s roadways, there are also boat navigation rules designed to prevent collisions on the state’s waterways. Boaters call navigation rules – the basic laws governing the steering or sailing of a boat – “The Rules of the Road.”

Below are a few of the most important rules:

  • Post a lookout. Designate someone to watch for dangers that may come from any direction.
  • Maintain a safe speed. Except where speed is restricted by regulation or the waterway is marked by a “No Wake” or “Slow Speed” Aid, you must judge “safe speed” for yourself, taking into account visibility, vessel traffic, your boat’s ability to maneuver, and the weather conditions.
  • Avoid a collision. The Rules of the Road include the actions to take when encountering another vessel on the water. Some of the most common situations you may encounter are: overtaking, meeting head on, and crossing the bow of another vessel. In each case, the boat designated as the “give-way” vessel is required to yield to the other boat, while the boat designated as the “stand-on” vessel should maintain its course and speed.
  • When meeting another vessel head on, a port-to-port passing is preferred. Passing starboard-to-starboard is acceptable when necessary.
  • In a crossing situation, the give-way vessel must act to avoid a collision. This may include altering its course to pass astern of the stand-on vessel or slowing down. The stand-on vessel should maintain its course and speed.

If all operators obeyed these rules, most Florida boating accidents could be avoided.

The Dellutri Law Group is focused on making bad situations better and putting lives back together. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Florida boating accident, you may be entitled to compensation.

To learn more about your legal options, contact our experienced injury attorneys for a free consultation.


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