We know them as Jet Skis – the water vehicles you can rent while on vacation or buy for your own personal use. You see them on TV quite often. People expertly ride the waves, racing other people or boats. But while Jet Ski has become synonymous with all of these vehicles, that is actually only one brand of personal watercrafts (PWC) like Sea Doo and Wave Runner.
PWC are popular in Florida and other states with gorgeous weather and beautiful beaches. But these vessels can be just as dangerous as cars. According to a U.S. Coast Guard report, 592 people were injured on PWC and 34 died in 2014.
If operators and passengers do not follow Florida law or the nautical “rules of the road” while out on the water, they can cause an accident. While drowning is not common, it can happen if the PWC is overturned. Injuries like broken bones and concussions can occur from collisions or other accidents.
If you were hurt because of a Personal Watercraft Accident, contact the Florida personal injury attorneys at Oldham & Smith. It may take some investigating to determine the cause of your accident. If it was a manufacturing or design defect, you may need to sue the manufacturer to recover. If it was an operator of the PWC you were the passenger of, or the operator of another PWC, you may need to bring a suit against that driver personally.
What is the Leading Cause of PWC Accidents?
Accidents on personal watercrafts happen for a variety of reasons, many of which are the driver’s fault. Sometimes defects in the vehicle or a sudden change in water conditions cause issues, but in most situations, recklessness or inexperience lead to injuries or fatalities. In fact, the leading cause of PWC accidents is striking another object, usually another PWC. Other causes of PWC accidents include:
- Going too fast: This is one of the top reasons people get into accidents on PWCs. Speeding increases the likelihood of colliding with another vessel or overturning the PWC, particularly when an operator does not realize how long it takes a PWC to stop when they are moving at 50 or 60 mph.
- Improper look out: When people are out having fun on the water, they sometimes forget to keep a lookout for other PWC, boats, swimmers, kayakers, and surfers. Drivers share the water with many other people and need to pay attention to their surroundings to avoid an accident.
- Making sharp turns: Sometimes when one PWC driver is interacting with another, they will try to race and speed around each other. However, making sharp and erratic turns increases the likelihood of overturning the PWC, which can lead to drowning.
- Drinking and driving: Like with any vehicle, people should not drink alcohol and then drive. Alcohol alters a person’s perception of how fast they and other vehicles are going, diminishes their ability to judge distances, and slows their reaction times. All of these issues could lead to an accident on the water.
- Dangerous water and weather conditions: Operators of PWC need to be mindful of the water and weather conditions before they head out and while they are on the water. Large waves can make it difficult to properly navigate the PWC and get to safety if necessary.
- General inexperience: Many people rent PWC without the proper training. People who have not taken a course or passed a certification should not operate a PWC. Newly certified drivers should still be cautious.
How to Prevent Accidents
A significant number of injuries and fatalities related to PWC are preventable. Here are some of the ways operators can ensure they drive PWC safely:
- Take lessons: No one should hop onto a PWC without experience. Receive training from someone who really knows what they are doing.
- Get your license: Florida law actually requires individuals to complete a course to gain a license for any water vessels with motors of 10 HP or more, which can include jet skis.
- Take it slow: Everyone can enjoy being on a PWC without going at very high speeds. Go slow and enjoy your surroundings.
- Stay away from other vessels: Accidents occur when operators get too close to other PWC and boats. Keep your distance to avoid collisions.
- Stay out of a boat’s wake: Wakes make it difficult to maneuver the PWC and should always be avoided.
Call a Florida Personal Injury Attorney
If you suffered personal injury during a PWC accident, you are probably wondering how you will manage all of the medical bills, particularly if you have to take time off work. But if you were hurt because of someone else’s actions, you should hold them responsible. In a personal injury claim, you may be compensated for your current and future medical bills, lost wages, disfigurement, disability, and pain and suffering. Contact us or schedule an appointment with the experienced lawyers at Oldham & Smith to learn more.