Boating Accidents

Florida / Boating Capital of the World

Recognized as “The Boating Capital of the World,” Florida leads the nation with over a million registered vessels across the state.

Boating can be fun and pleasurable.  No one casts off for an exciting day on the water expecting that the day may end in tragedy.

Unfortunately, each year Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (“FWC”) officers respond to far too many tragic boating accidents that could have been prevented.  There are hundreds of accidents reported each year, involving as many as 2,000 individuals.

Boating Accident Causes And Statistics

In 2021 Florida ranked first in the nation in boating accidents, with 751.  Fifty-nine fatal accidents resulted in 60 deaths in 2021.  22% of those were due to someone falling overboard. 

The leading cause of death in fatal boating accidents was drowning, with 33 deaths (55%).  Alcohol or drug use played a role in 23% of boating deaths.

May, in 2021, was the month with the highest number of deaths statewide (10). 

Eighty-three percent of boat operators in fatal accidents lacked maritime education. 

Personal watercraft were involved in 26% of boating accidents, with 17 deaths and 162 injuries from 195 accidents. 

In 2022, 54% of all vessel accidents involved collision. The primary causes for these accidents were improper lookout and operator inexperience. 

According to FWC, one of the most common causes of boating accidents is that people are going out with inexperienced boaters.  FWC suggests that passengers go out with an experienced boating captain (one that’s certified) one that’s gone through the classes, the courses, and understands the rules of the road out on the water because that is very important.

Safety Violations | Boating Accident Fault

When simple and basic safe boating practices are not followed, tragedy can happen. According to the FWC, an operator is at fault when an accident or injury is caused by:

FWC Regulations: In Part

In part, applicable FWC violations and rules include: