With hundreds of miles of coastline and sunny summers, Florida’s recreational boating activity is among the best in the nation. Unfortunately, Florida also sees higher rates of boating accidents. A boating accident lawyer at Charpentier Law Firm in Melbourne, FL, has the experience to help you or your loved ones pursue justice for damage caused by another party's negligence, and claim the compensation you deserve.

What is a Boating Accident?

A boating accident occurs when a collision, accident, or casualty involves a vessel in, entering, or leaving a water body. This may be the result of one vessel colliding with another, hitting a submerged rock or other obstacle, running into the wake of another boat, or hitting a wave at a wrong angle.

Not every accident is serious enough for legal involvement. However, the US Coast Guard dictates that an accident must be reported if:

  • A person on a boat dies, or is injured beyond the help of first aid
  • A person on a boat disappears, and death or injury is suspected
  • A vessel causes or sustains at least $2,000 worth of damage
  • A vessel is completely lost
A boating accident occurs when a collision, accident, or casualty involves a vessel in, entering, or leaving a water body.

If you have been in a major boating accident in Florida, it must be reported to one of these three places:

Failing to report an accident is considered a criminal offense. In addition, the person operating the vessel involved in the accident must render all possible aid to those involved in the accident. If they leave the site without doing so, they may also be charged.

Do I Need a Boating Accident Attorney?

Ideally, your insurance company handles the expenses of a boating accident. However, legal intervention may be necessary if:

  • Expenses from the boating accident have not been reimbursed
  • Your insurance company is taking too long to settle a claim
  • Your claim is rejected because the insurance company denies the fault of the negligent party
  • The negligent party does not have insurance

The more information you have on your side, the better your chances of collecting compensation. Collect the names and contact information of any eyewitness who could testify, and keep notes on what you remember.

How Can an Experienced Boating Accident Attorney Help?

Navigating the aftermath of a boating accident is often complicated by the fact that federal and state laws may intersect in such cases. The location of an accident determines whether maritime (federal) or Florida laws apply. Maritime laws apply to any "navigable” waterway, which is defined as any body of water that is currently or could in the future be used for commercial purposes. This leaves plenty of room for ambiguity. An attorney with extensive experience in pursuing boating accident lawsuits can not only help in clearing this ambiguity, but also improve an injured party's chances of success.

Even if the circumstances of your accident seem clear and straightforward, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. The deadline for filing a lawsuit largely depends on whether maritime or state laws apply, and a lawyer can help you prepare for either case. If you decide to wait for a response from your insurance company and they reject your claim after the deadline runs out, you will not be able to pursue legal action afterwards.

What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Success?

The more information you have on your side, the better your chances of securing compensation. Even before you decide to pursue legal action, it is a good idea to gather information while your memory is still fresh: collect the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses who could testify, photograph or sketch the scene of the accident and the boat damages, photograph any injuries caused by the accident, and keep notes on what you remember.

What Are the Types of Boating Accidents?

Boating accidents are usually divided into two classes: pleasure and work-related.

Pleasure boating accidents typically include jet skis, speedboats, yachts, and other vessels used recreationally. In this type of accident, negligence must be demonstrated to successfully prove a case. In other words, someone (usually the boat operator) must have failed to act with reasonable care, and consequently caused the accident. Negligence in this context can include:

  • Carelessness
  • Inexperience
  • Inattention
  • Alcohol or drug consumption by the boat operator

Work-related boating accidents usually lead to personal injury claims on the behalf of maritime employees. These often include longshoremen, port workers, repairmen, and shipbuilders injured in construction or slip and fall accidents. According to the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, most of their work-related medical expenses or disability pay must be legally covered by their employers, but in some cases that compensation is not sufficient.

Common Injuries Caused by Boating Accidents

Boating accidents can result in several kinds of physical injury, and even fatality. The most common injuries include:

  • Drowning
  • Abrasions, contusion, or lacerations
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Burns
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Hypothermia
  • Trauma
  • Broken bones
  • Amputation
  • Electrocution

What Kind of Lawsuits Can Be Filed after Boating Accidents?

The type of boating accident lawsuit will depend on the cause of the accident. The most common types include:

  • Personal injury: This type of lawsuit is usually pursued when a client is injured because of an operator’s negligence. Specific examples of unsafe behavior can include reckless turns, improper use of safety equipment, or an unfamiliarity with the "rules of the road.” While certain certification processes for operating aquatic vessels exist, they are not required of everyone. Many people operating a boat may have little to insufficient training. Consequently, personal injury boating accident lawsuits are common.
  • Product liability: In some cases, faulty engines or safety equipment are responsible for accidents. Product liability lawsuits are more appropriate in this situation. Clients can hold designers, manufacturers, quality inspectors, or distributors liable for their injuries.

What Kind of Compensation Can I Expect?

Like most personal injury or product liability cases, boating accident lawsuits are intended to compensate our client’s expenses and other losses resulting from their injuries. These can include medical bills, lost income, physical or psychological pain, decreased quality of life, lost prospects, and property repair. Decided by either insurance companies or juries, the exact amount is based on preset guidelines and the severity of a client’s injuries.

Contact Us Today

The attorneys at Charpentier Law Firm are dedicated to ensuring clients’ physical and psychological well-being with thorough legal representation. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, reach out today to set up an appointment and discuss your case with an experienced attorney. 



Over the past 40-plus years of helping Brevard County's injured and mistreated, our firm has obtained some $65 million in recoveries on behalf of our clients, highlighted by an $8 million product liability award in 2001.

The team at Charpentier Law Firm has the negotiation skills to reach favorable settlements in many cases, but also has the experience and perseverance to try a case to verdict whenever it is in the best interests of our clients. Our history of success illustrates our dedication to our clients and their pursuit of justice. Our personal injury attorneys in Melbourne, Titusville, and Cocoa are proud to offer superior legal representation to victims and their families throughout Brevard County and Central Florida.



Melbourne Office

2290 W Eau Gallie Blvd

Ste 212

Melbourne, FL 32935

Cocoa Office

1980 Michigan Ave

Cocoa, FL 32922

Titusville Office

719 Garden St

Titusville, FL 32796