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Articles Posted in Jet Ski & Personal Watercraft Accidents

23WIFR is reporting a recent airboat ride in Florida ended in tragedy.  While details are scars the April 02, 2020, post by [815-987-5330] with WIRF.COM, provides the Sofola family, Keith (father), Karen (mother), Luke (son) and Lexi (daughter), while vacationing in Florida first enjoyed a morning swimming with manatees followed by an airboat ride and collision described by Keith as, “Immediately there was another boat right there.”

A head-on collision followed, tossing the Solofo family from the boat.  Fortunately, the two children, Luke and Lexi, suffered minor injuries.  However, Karen and Luke were not so fortunate.  After realizing what had occurred, Keith yelled to his son Luke, who responded, “Dad, mom’s hurt.”  Karen at the time was clinging to her son while still in the water.  Karen’s legs were broken, and her left foot was severed.

Keith suffered broken facial bones, a severe concussion and broken arm.  Despite his injuries, Keith hoisted his wife onto a boat, apparently belonging to a “good samaritan,” who say what happened and quickly came to the aid of the Sofola’s family. Florida Jet Ski accident attorneys handle many different types of personal watercraft injury cases. These cases range from negligently conducted Jet Ski tours to improper personal watercraft design. In this case, we represent a person who was injured while operating a Jet Ski in Biscayne Bay off Miami Beach. While our client was operating the Jet Ski, a yacht producing a large wake crossed in front of the personal watercraft. Our client’s Jet Ski struck the wake causing it to lurch up striking him in the face and shoulder. This accident caused significant personal injuries to his face, neck, arm and hand. He was taken to an area hospital and was admitted for three days.

After our client’s medical condition plateaued, our Florida Jet Ski accident attorneys filed a lawsuit against the yacht captain alleging a negligence count for unsafe boat operation and a negligence per se count for violating various navigational rules including failure to keep a lookout and maintain a safe speed. Negligence and negligence per se are different legal theories. To prove a negligence claim, the injured Jet Ski victim must show that the yacht captain acted in a way that a reasonably prudent captain would not have acted and such negligent acts were the cause of the Jet Ski accident. To prove a negligence per se claim, the Jet Ski victim must prove that the yacht captain violated a safety statute designed to protect the Jet Ski victim from harm. A negligence per se claim based upon failing to comply with a safety statute under maritime law, if proven, carries the presumption that the violator is a fault for the jet ski accident. This presumption is only rebutted by showing that the violation could not have been a cause of the Jet Ski accident. This is an extremely hard presumption to overcome.

The yacht captain filed a motion to dismiss the negligence per se claim arguing that it should have been commingled within the negligence count. The Court held in our favor finding that different legal elements must be proven to establish a negligence per se claim than that of a simple negligence claim. Based upon the legal finding, the Court held that it was proper to allege the two theories of liability in different counts and denied the yacht captain’s motion to dismiss.

Florida-Personal-Watercraft-Injury-ReleaseOur Florida personal watercraft injury lawyers were recently successful in convincing a court that a release was legally insufficient and, therefore, unenforceable.

Facts of the Case

Our client and her boyfriend were staying at the Hawk’s Cay Resort located on Duck Key in the Florida Keys.  During their stay, the couple wanted to rent a motor boat and go to one of the mangrove islands to have a romantic picnic. The resort has a marina and an on-site boat rental building. The person at the rental window told the couple that he would not rent them the motor boat due to their inexperience calling them “landlubbers” and suggested they rent canoes at the nearby Long Key Florida State Park.  The couple decided to go back to their room to figure out the location of the State Park that rents canoes.  Given the late hour of the day, they thought it was too late to rent the canoes and instead decided to “do the Jet Ski thing.” The boyfriend called the rental window to see if they could rent personal watercrafts and was told to come down right away.  They went back to the rental window, paid to participate in a guided tour and were given an activity release to sign.  They signed the release and began the tour.  The tour guide lead the couple under the Toms Harbor Cut Bridges to the Gulf of Mexico side of U.S. 1, around a mangrove island and then towards the Toms Harbor Channel Bridges just west of the Toms Harbor Cut Bridges. There are two bridges at Toms Harbor Channel.  One with vertical supports providing a wide passageway (newer bridge).  The second bridge is made up of arch supports providing a much narrower passageway (older bridge).   Before going under the Toms Harbor Channel Bridges and moments before the accident, the tour guide instructed the couple to follow him and to go fast.   While following the tour guide as instructed, our client lost control of the personal watercraft and collided with a concrete arch of the second Toms Harbor Channel Bridge.  The impact caused our client to suffer sever physical as well as a traumatic brain injury.

The Florida personal watercraft accident attorneys of Brais Law Firm have recently brought a lawsuit against a Miami area rental and tour company for negligent conduction of a WaveRunner Tour.  The facts surrounding this case involved a couple from New Jersey vacationing in South Florida.  They decided to take a Biscayne Bay personal watercraft tour and purchased such a tour from one of the many companies operating at the Bayside Marina.  After paying for the tour, the couple were directed the WaveRunners to start the guided tour.   Once on the water, it became apparent that the weather was deteriorating and the waves began to become larger and larger.  Though the bay waters were turning rough, the tour guide not only kept taking the couple out farther but started to separate himself from the couple riding behind.  In fear of getting left behind, the couple attempted to catch up to their tour guide.  While attempting to catch up, the WaveRunner struck a wave causing the wife to separate from the craft then slam back down on it.

The impact resulted in a fractured patella and torn meniscus.  The patella, more commonly known as the knee cap, is the triangular bone which protect the surface of the knee joint.  A meniscus is a piece of cartilage that cushions the knee which prevents the femur and tibia from rubbing against each other.  The wife underwent surgery for her injuries.

Court papers assert that the guide failed to provide the statutory required instruction before beginning the tour and failed to conduct the tour in a reasonably safe manner.  Under maritime law, a company that provides personal watercraft tours must follow statutory requirements including specific safety briefings before allowing their customers on the water.  Furthermore, the tour operator must provide a tour which is reasonably safe.  The lawsuit claims that the tour guide’s decision to take the couple in exposed waters of Biscayne Bay during rough weather coupled with the fact that he separated from the group fell below minimum legal standards.  The case is currently pending before the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County.

WaveRunner-Accident-Miami.jpgOur Florida Board Certified Admiralty & Maritime lawyers have brought a lawsuit against a Miami Beach WaveRunner rental company for its violation of boating safety laws which contributed to our client’s injuries. The complaint filed in Federal court alleges that our client was a part of a group of people who rented a yacht along with WaveRunners from the concessionaire. The concessionaire supplied the yacht captain. During the course of the day, the yacht passengers took turns operating the WaveRunners. Our client was given no training on how to properly operate the personal watercraft. The yacht captain had a practice of operating the yacht in close proximity to the people riding the WaveRunners. The yacht, given its size, produced a significant wake. While our client was operating the WaveRunner, the yacht gave off a wake that was parallel to the path our client was heading. Having little of no time to maneuver away from the wake, our client hit the wake causing him to be thrown into the air and land hard onto the personal watercraft.
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Jet-Ski-Accident-1.18-Million-Dollar-Verdict.jpgOur client Khalila Jenkins was enjoying Labor Day Weekend in Miami Beach in 2013 when she decided to go jet skiing with friends. The group rented the personal watercrafts and took off to ride in the area designated by the rental company. The rental company required the group as well as other people who rented personal watercrafts to remain in an area which was marked by floating markers. Ms. Jenkins was riding on the back of the Jet Ski while her friend operated the craft. Before long Ms. Jenkins noticed that some of the people were operating their jet skis in a reckless manner, playing games of chicken and trying to splash one another with the spray from the crafts’ pump. Ms. Jenkins told her friend who was operating her jet ski to move away from those people which he did. While returning to shore, Tony Jakes of Nevada, t-boned the personal watercraft Ms. Jenkins’ was riding at full speed. This collision caused a displaced fracture of Ms. Jenkins’ left tibia and fibula before ejecting her into the water. Luckily, she was wearing a life jacket at the time. This, perhaps, saved her life.
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Florida Boat Accident Lawyer.gifThe maritime lawyers were retained by a Palmetto Bay, Florida woman who suffered a severe fracture to her ankle after being ejected from a Yamaha Waverunner FZS. It has been wildly reported that the FZS model Waverunner has problems with “bucking” sending riders flying from the personal watercraft. This problem occurs in any type of weather conditions. In this case, the water was claim and the Waverunner FZS was being operated in a straight line. This problem is thought to be caused by a improper designed intake grate. If you or someone you known was bucked off a Waverunner FZS, we like to speak with you. You may reach us toll free at (800) 499-0551.

New York Cruise Injury Attorneys.jpgBBR attorneys have been retained to represent a woman who sustained a fractured fibula and fibula when a jet ski rented from a Miami Beach marina T-boned the personal watercraft she was riding aboard. The woman underwent emergency surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Marinas renting jet skis are required under Florida law to provide renters comprehensive instruction and possible on water proficiency reviews before allowing the renters to leave the dock. Unfortunately, this does always happen and accidents occur. The woman was visiting South Florida from New York

Florida Jet Ski Accident Lawyers.gifThe Miami jet ski injury lawyers of Brais Law represent a woman who was injured on a Jet Ski while on vacation at Miami Beach, Florida. The accident caused a significant head injury so much so that she was airlifted to Jackson Trauma Center for treatment. The complaint filed in Miami circuit court alleges the Jet Ski concessionaire negligently entrusted the personal watercraft by not providing any of the instruction required by Florida law.

The Palm Beach Post reports an 11-year-old boy injured his shoulder when the personal watercraft he was operating struck a dock on September 11th. The boy was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach.

The owner of the personal watercraft, John Pajares, 49, of Lake Clarke Shores, Florida, was cited for allowing the boy to operate the craft. Florida law requires personal watercraft operators to be at least 14 years old. Authorities also cited the boy for being too young to operate a personal watercraft and for failure to have completed a boating safety course. Completing an approved boating safety course is required for anyone 21 years old or younger who is operating a boat with 10 horsepower or more in Florida.

The law firm of Brais & Brais regularly handles Florida personal watercraft and jet ski injury cases. If you or a loved one was injured in a personal watercraft or jet ski accidents and would like to know your legal rights, please contact our Florida Board Certified Maritime Attorneys.

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