St. Petersburg Boat Rental Accident Lawyer
Boating can be an enormously fun activity. Indeed, many Floridians own and operate their own boats throughout the state. But boating also represents a substantial investment of both time and money. For that reason, many recreational or occasional boaters prefer to rent a vessel instead.
But what happens when a rental boat is involved in an accident? Is the operator liable for any injuries to third parties? Is the rental company? A skilled St. Petersburg boat rental accident lawyer can help victims answer these questions. Attorney Frank D. Butler has three decades of experience in personal injury and maritime law, and he and his team know how to properly investigate a boat rental accident to identify all of the potentially liable parties.
Who Is Responsible for a Rental Boat Accident?
Unlike renting a car, you do not need a special license to rent or operate a boat. There is no such thing as a “boating license” in Florida. Instead, anyone born on or after January 1, 1988, simply needs to carry a photo ID when operating a boat and obtain a Boating Safety Identification Card, which only requires the one-time completion of a state-approved course. In addition, anyone who rents a boat must be at least 18 years old.
So a boat rental company may be held liable if they rent a vessel to an operator who fails to meet even these minimum qualifications and that person causes an accident. The rental company can also be held responsible if they rent a vessel to someone who is clearly incapable of safely operating it, e.g., someone who is visibly intoxicated.
The rental company must also ensure that any boats they provide are in fact seaworthy. If a defective part or lack of proper maintenance leads to an accident, the injured parties can sue the boat rental company for negligence. In some cases, the manufacturer of the boat or any defective party may also be sued under Florida product liability laws.
It is also possible that another passenger on a rental boat is responsible for an accident. For example, a passenger may be disruptive to the operator or other boat crew, which prevents them from doing their duty. If that in turn leads to an accident, the “unruly” passenger may be named as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit.
Contact Attorney Frank D. Butler Today
Personal injury claims involving any form of watercraft, including rental boats, can be tricky because these cases often fall under federal maritime law. Generally speaking, any boating accident that occurs within the navigable waters is considered a question of maritime law. Such cases are governed by different rules than traditional Florida-based personal injury cases. This is yet another reason it is important to work with a St. Petersburg boat rental accident lawyer who specializes in such cases.
So if you have been injured by or while on a rental boat and you need to speak with an attorney about your possible right to compensation, call the offices of Frank D. Butler, P.A., at 888-BOAT-LAW today to schedule a consultation.