One of the recreational activities constantly gaining popularity is the rental of jet skis and similar watercraft like sea doos and wave runners. In Florida and especially south Florida, the beaches are lined with companies renting such vessels. At this time there are over 100,000 watercrafts of the sort, accounting for 13% of all registered vessels in the state.
They also account for 20% of all boating accidents, with half of them pertaining to collisions with other vessels. About 25% of the accidents are caused by riders of borrowed PWCs, and 40% involve accidents by rented PWCs. The most serious statistic refers to the 30% of these accidents that involve injuries or deaths of riders under the age of 21.
The general Florida state law is the same as for all boats and yachts, in the case of privately owned PWCs. There are no provisions for knowledge, age and experience on the person operating the vessel.
There are provisions for the rental agencies though. They must:
- make sure that the equipment to be rented is free from defects
- maintain their equipment in good working order
- ensure that they rent to properly trained users
- not rent to users under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances
- not rent to users under the proper age
What Actually Happens
The reality of operating PWCs is rather grim. People rent (the vast majority) jet skis and other personal watercraft without knowing either how to operate them, or how to follow the basic safety precautions necessary for protection as the inherent danger of PWC is that the riders are too exposed.
Furthermore, the companies that rent PWCs usually do not provide sufficient instructions to the renters on how to operate these crafts. They also often proceed to commit other acts of negligence in favor of receiving the rental fees, and then attempt to evade liability by invoking the Ship Owner’s Limitation of Liability Act.
Accidents with PWCs involve:
- Collision with other vessels
- Grounding the vessel
- Operation outside the safety limits
- Negligent supervision and entrustment
- Violation of the controlled substances and alcohol legislation
Handling of PWC Accidents
The claimants of liability for PWC accidents stand to receive compensations for the medical bills, the lost wages and the pain and suffering. However, if the injuries are extensive, there may be compensations for future medical treatment and future loss of wages. This is why it is most important to look for attorneys with experience in handling Jet Ski accidents. We at Singer & O’Neil are the right choice as we have extensive experience in handling such cases.