Water sports and the State of Florida seem to naturally go together. When someone is out enjoying the fun and the sun, they simply aren’t thinking about the possibility of getting into an accident. Boating and the use of personal watercraft (PWC) like a jet ski can be very dangerous. Safety precautions must be taken. When they aren’t, the results can be fatal.
An accident involving a personal watercraft on Sunday evening left one man dead and his two passengers injured when he slammed into a channel marker.
Authorities have identified the victim as Jorge Rizo, 25. According to Florida Wildlife and Conservation Officer, Lorenzo Veloz, Rizo lost control of his Waverunner personal watercraft that he was driving. His girlfriend and another friend were on board.
According to Veloz, Rizo had been traveling at a high rate of speed when he lost control and struck a channel marker. The force of the impact caused Rizo to be ejected from the vehicle. He struck his head on the channel marker before hitting the water.
Emergency crews transported Rizo and the two women to an area hospital where he later died as the result of the injuries he sustained in the accident.
Rizo’s girlfriend suffered a serious injury to her leg while her friend was treated and released from the hospital.
The accident is still currently under investigation.
In 2010, a total of 41,600 personal watercrafts were sold in the United States. The high-speed fun and adventure of speeding along the water appeals to many. As the tragic accident above demonstrates, high speeds can lead to serious injuries and fatalities.
The major cause of personal watercraft accidents is a collision. Some safety experts attribute the collisions to drivers having less control and maneuverability during off-throttle steering. This happens if a driver realizes that a collision is imminent and they release the throttle to attempt to steer around the obstacle.
Unlike a car, once the throttle is released, a PWC becomes less maneuverable. Evasive action often proves ineffective. Also, a PWC can require a significant distance to come to a stop. A PWC traveling at a speed of 40 mph, for example, takes 220 feet to bring to a stop. For an inexperienced PWC operator, that can prove to be a disastrous situation.
The NTSB also found that 85% of PWC operators had little or no training on the proper operation of a PWC and most had operated these types of watercraft fewer than 10 times! Often during recreational outings, PWC’s are loaned to family and friends who also have no instruction on their proper operation. Insurance companies say that injuries of those who borrow someone else’s watercraft are significantly higher.
Manufacturers have been listening to concerns of both their customers and federal regulators and have been attempting to meet the demand for safer vehicles. These changes would allow for off-throttle maneuvering by adding rudders or flaps in order to make them safer. Even though some manufacturers such as Bombardier offer an advanced off-throttle steering assistance system, other manufacturers have been slower to implement the safety changes.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, those who get injured on or by a personal watercraft or boat can be eligible for compensation. A boat or PWC is just like any other vehicle, and open to the same rights as those injured by cars. If you’ve been hurt in a boating accident, call the Miami boating attorneys at NK&P for a consultation.