Florida Keys Boat Crash Is an Example That Information Is Vital in Boat Crash Cases and Time Is of the Essence
In any boat crash there is information that must be gathered immediately. In boat crashes such as the very unfortunate one that occurred in the Florida Keys on September 4, 2022 where the vessel operator struck a channel marker, time is of the essence in gathering critical information about why and how a boat crash occurred. What we have learned over the years of practicing maritime law—which maritime law will apply in such situations—is that there is information to be gained immediately after a crash. A boat crash case we completed earlier this year is a good example; there was GPS data available to be obtained and used.
GPS data—depending upon the model—can record the speed of a vessel, the prior track of a vessel, and the direction of a vessel at the time of an impact. Also, if there is auto-pilot and chart-plotter on a vessel, that needs to be examined as well. Higher end vessels can be equipped with sophisticated radar which should warn vessel operators of impending collision risks.
A Vessel Itself Is Evidence That Needs to Be Preserved in a Boat Crash.
We here at the 888BOATLAW law firm also know in handling boat crash cases that the vessel involved in the crash is itself significant evidence of how a crash occurred. When there are two vessels involved in a crash, it is important that both vessels be preserved and not altered before retained expert witnesses are deployed to fully document and run tests of any involved vessel.
Cell Phone and Digital Data, Social Media Data
It sounds simple to say but cell phone data just before a crash occurs and including after a crash is often insightful to the facts of how a crash occurred. In every boating crash case we handle—where there is a question about why the crash occurred—cell phone data is examined. This data includes photos taken before the crash and certainly photos taken after the crash. Those photos can contain metadata which shows the exact time the photo was taken, but many times more importantly where the photo was taken. In cases involving multiple witnesses to a boat crash we obtain cell phone data from every witness. This includes a subpoena of all text messages before, during, and after the time of a boat crash from all witnesses. The same goes for social media posts or communications between witnesses or by a witness; those are requested by subpoena from witnesses to a boat crash. In boat crash cases we handle it is always the case that witnesses have communicated about the crash, and in many instances they have communicated about why the boat crash happened. Time is of the essence in obtaining such information.
Good Samaritans are important witnesses. They often take photographs of the scene. Good Samaritans have information about what they saw, where vessels were positioned, the actions and demeanor of any witnesses, whether there appeared to be any alcohol involved in a crash, etc. And, most importantly, Good Samaritans are witnesses to what was said at a crash scene by passengers involved in a boat crash. In many, if not all, of the boating crash cases we have handled, there is direct communication between witnesses involved in a boat crash and the Good Samaritans. Good Samaritans are witnesses which must be contacted immediately to obtain a close-in-time account of the Good Samaritan’s memory of what they saw, what they heard, and any photographs or video they may have.
Time Is Always of the Essence in a Boat Crash Injury Case
Time is certainly always of the essence is a boat crash injury or death case. The information noted above which must be preserved and obtained by an injured party should be pursued immediately. The GPS data referenced above can be overwritten and lost if the GPS unit is continued to be used by an at-fault vessel operator. Phone data can be deleted if witnesses are not immediately placed on notice to preserve that data. Witnesses’ memories fade over time if statements are not taken very close in time to the date of a crash. A boat crash case we completed earlier this year is instructive. Within days after the crash, notification letters were delivered into the hands of the apparent at-fault driver of the offending vessel. We did not just “send” out notifications. We confirmed those notifications were received by the at-fault operator. Those notifications required the owner to preserve all electronic data on the vessel involved in the boat crash, preserve the vessel unaltered from the crash, and to save all cell phone data and personal data related to the boat crash. That notification to the vessel owner played a very large role in the recovery for the family we represented and for which we made a very significant recovery for their injuries and losses.
Boat Crash Victims Should Choose Carefully
The law that applies to most boat crash cases is not Florida law; that is correct: NOT Florida law. It is maritime law. Those cases where a boat crash occurs along a coastline of Florida, or on inter-coastal waters, or on rivers leading out the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico will involve maritime law, NOT Florida law. This is important to a boating crash case because it impacts three vital aspects: 1. What law will be applied. 2. What is the statute of limitations. 3. Where (i.e., what court) and how the case will be handled.
We are not dog-bite attorneys. We are maritime attorneys. We specialize in cases involving boating injuries, including those that occur on a vessel as well as boat crashes. We have specialized in boating injury cases for 25 years. Conversely, compared to car accidents in Florida, those care accidents almost always involve the application of Florida law. Therefore car-accident attorneys are usually dealing only with Florida law in handling car accident cases. Boating crashes involve a different body of law, and one in which only a very few attorneys practice. While it may be the situation that a car accident attorney sees a boating case once every five or ten years, that is different from a law firm which handles boating crash and boating injury cases on an every-day-of-the-week basis. This is not a sideline for us. Working to recover for families in boating injury cases is what we do every day. Time is of the essence in boating injury cases.
We Are Boat Law Attorneys in Florida
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