Articles Posted in Tampa Bay Boating Accident Attorney


This Saturday, Tampa Bay-area residents and visitors join in an unusual celebration called Gasparilla, one that marks the beginning of a new year and serves as a reminder of ancient times. The Gasparilla Pirate Festival was named in honor of the pirate Jose “Gasparilla” Gaspar, who is famed for terrorizing Florida’s west coast during the late 18th century and early 19th century. On Saturday, the city of Tampa will be “invaded” by Gasparilla and his men when their 165-foot pirate ship arrives in downtown Tampa, known as the Jose Gasparilla. The mayor of Tampa gives the key to the city to the pirate captain and a victory parade begins throughout the city’s streets.

8431098388_181f4bc534_zWhile this event is a lot of fun, it can also be very dangerous if proper steps are not taken to ensure the safety of yourself and others while on a boat. The following safety tips could be of use to you this weekend:

  • Make sure that you have a designated driver. In the state of Florida, it is illegal to operate any vessel on Florida waters while under the influence of drugs, alcohol or any mixture of intoxicating substances.
  • Keep a close watch out for other boaters and watch your speed!
  • It is important to make sure that you have enough personal flotation devices for everyone on board before you head out on the water.
  • Make sure you have all necessary safety equipment on board and in working order.
  • Create a float plan with friends or family and have a working VHF radio on board.
  • Talk with all of your passengers before you head out about what to do in case of an emergency. That way you all have a game plan should your adventure go awry.

This weekend you will see many law enforcement vessels on the waterways, including boats from the Coast Guard, Tampa Police Department, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Hillsborough County and Pinellas County sheriff’s offices.

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Boating is a popular and enjoyable activity here in the Tampa Bay area, but it is also a pastime filled with accidents as well. If you find yourself hurt or injured while boating due to someone else’s negligent or careless actions, it is worth speaking to a Boating Accident Injury Lawyer at Whittel & Melton about your rights.

Three adults were rescued by a Coast Guard crew eight miles west of Bean Point on Anna Maria Island Sunday after their 37-foot boat began taking on water.

191748229_619e5f44e9_mCoast Guard watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a report around 3:50 p.m. that the boat had begun taking on water from a six-inch hole in the hull.

A boat crew from the station made it to the scene around 4:30 p.m., plugged the hole, began dewatering and put the boat in tow.

The boat was safely towed to Bradenton Beach Marina by 8 p.m.

A command duty officer at Sector St. Petersburg mentioned a valuable tip for boaters: “It is important for boaters to remember the Coast Guard can always be reached via channel 16 in an emergency. Having a marine band radio on board a vessel, like in this case, can save lives when a situation becomes an emergency.”

Manatee County Fire and Rescue also responded to the accident site.

In the United States, boating collisions are the most common type of accident. More than 8 percent of all boating accidents result in fatalities. Nearly half of boating accident tragedies occur because of passengers falling overboard, with 70 percent of those victims drowning. Of these drowning accidents, 86 percent involve passengers not wearing a life jacket. The most common recreational boat accidents involve the following:

  • Capsizing
  • Falling overboard
  • Collisions with other vessels or stationary structures
  • Fires
  • Flooding or Sinking
  • Explosions

When operating a boat, there are certain steps that can be taken to prevent a boat accident injury or minimize the damage. The following tips can prove useful to boaters when an emergency situation arises:

  • Always have enough life jackets for all crew and passengers, and make sure everyone wears one
  • Refrain from drinking alcohol while boating
  • Always have a working VHF radio on board, a submersible model is preferable
  • Use GPS technologies to know your location at all times
  • Keep flares on board
  • Make sure to have a first aid kit on board
  • Keep fire extinguishers in an easily accessible location
  • Leave your itinerary with someone on land

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Any time a dangerous situation erupts or a catastrophe occurs onboard a cruise ship it makes headline news. However, when a crime happens aboard a cruise line, we do not always hear about it despite the fact that cruise lines are obligated to report all allegations of serious crimes to the FBI.

Major cruise lines even post criminal data online for the general public to view. There are some limitations, though. Cruise lines are only required to report theft of items totaling more than $10,000, and assault causing serious bodily injury.

48210215_5bb70ad1c4_mWhile more than 22 million people travel via cruise ship every year, crime figures are actually quite low. Trips aboard cruise ships are not inherently dangerous.

Due to the fact that these ships sail internationally, the laws can be somewhat cloudy. Criminal investigations are usually handled by the FBI, but this also depends on where the ship is located at the time as well as where it is registered.

The main thing to be concerned with is how crimes are reported, investigated and tracked.

Should you find yourself the victim of a crime, make sure to report it right away to onboard security and demand that the crime scene be secured until law enforcement can gain access to the ship.

The other thing you want to make sure to do is write down the names of everyone involved in the incident – this includes witnesses. If a criminal act occurs while you are at a foreign port, contact the closest embassy or consulate.

Keep your eyes and ears open when taking a cruise. Trust your gut – if something appears odd or suspicious to you, it probably is. Should something appear out of the norm to you, take a trip to the Purser’s Office and let the staff know. They will appreciate the heads up, and you might just keep a criminal act from occurring.

Taking a cruise is a fabulous experience, so don’t think they are all bad. As long as you are prepared and watch out for your own safety, it will be smooth sailing all the way.

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Two people were injured recently after a personal watercraft collided with another watercraft near Bunce’s Pass near Fort De Soto Park in Pinellas County.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a 47-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy, both of Kissimmee, were riding on the watercraft around 5:30 p.m. when the accident happened.

pwcBoth were taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg with non-life-threatening injuries.

The other watercraft involved in the collision was driven by a 44-year-old man.

Nor further information is available regarding the incident at this time. The accident is currently under investigation.

According to the United State Coast Guard, more than one million personal watercrafts are registered in the United States. While personal watercraft’s only account for around 8 percent of all watercrafts, they generate nearly 26 percent of all boating injuries. There were 779 personal watercraft accidents reported in 2012, including 58 fatalities. Moreover, the United States Coast Guard ranks personal watercrafts as the second most dangerous type of watercraft on the water, and classifies these vessels as the most dangerous when accounting for percentage of operator injuries.

Boating accidents are quite different than automobile crashes in that there is not usually an accident scene to investigate. These incidents rely heavily on witness testimony as well as physical evidence in and on the boat. Watercraft accidents can be complex, which is why it is necessary to have a maritime lawyer working in your corner in order to achieve successful results.

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The Tampa Bay area is well known for its beautiful rivers, lakes, bays and access to the Gulf of Mexico. Because areas like Clearwater Beach and Treasure Island have so many various waterways, jet skiing is quite popular among tourists and residents alike. However, jet skiing is an inherently risky activity, with the U.S. Coast Guard broadcasting more than 700 fatalities involving jet skis and more than 3,000 injuries nationwide.

A moment of negligence or recklessness on a jet ski can result in severe personal injuries and even wrongful death. The good news is that most jet ski accidents can be prevented by understanding the common causes of these accidents and how to identify risky behaviors that can easily lead to an unfortunate mishap. Moreover, it is vital that jet ski riders know how to operate a jet ski in a safe fashion before heading out on the waterways.

Were you injured on the waterways of Clearwater Beach, Treasure Island or the surrounding areas? Call Whittel & Melton today at 727-823-0000 or dial us statewide and toll-free at 866-608-5529.

Were you injured on the waterways of Clearwater Beach, Treasure Island or the surrounding areas? Call Whittel & Melton today at 727-823-0000 or dial us statewide and toll-free at 866-608-5529.


Nearly 15 percent of all accidents involving personal watercrafts, such as jet skis, were caused by speeding drivers, according to the US Coast Guard. Driving a jet ski can undoubtedly be an exhilarating experience. As a jet ski driver, it is important to not get carried away when operating these vehicles as the amount of horsepower these vessels have can be intense. When excessive speeds are used, serious accidents can occur.


Many people hop on jet skis and take off into the water without fully realizing how dangerous these vehicles can be. It is important to get the proper training and experience before darting off in these vehicles. The National Transportation Safety Board estimates that nearly a third of drivers involved in a jet ski or other personal watercraft accident had operated the vehicle ten times or less prior to their accident.


As water sports like jet skiing become more and popular, waterways become more crowded, increasing the number of distractions for drivers. Unnecessary collisions on personal watercrafts are often caused by drivers who fail to pay attention to their surroundings. By staying focused while on a jet ski, you can prevent a catastrophe from occurring.


One of the leading causes of jet ski accidents is reckless driving. Often referred to as the motorcycle of the waterways, jet skis can be quite dangerous when operated in a reckless manner. Following the rules of the waterways is crucial when operating a jet ski, and failure to do so can result in broken bones, fractures, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord trauma and even death.

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A large boat carrying four passengers caught fire off Egmont Key in St. Petersburg Sunday.

The passengers on board ended up in the water and were picked up by another boater.

According to the coast guard, it is unclear at this time what started the fire on the 42-foot Hatteras.

Spectators said that all you could see from the shore was huge plumes of black smoke.

347284_burning_boat.jpgThe fire burned the boat to the waterline, and then it sank. Coast Guard officials have warned others in the area that it is a water hazard and all boaters should be careful.

The boat will have to be pulled from the water in order to determine how the fire started.

Tampa Bay is a wonderful place to live or vacation, with plentiful chances to enjoy many activities on the water. However, our rivers, lakes, streams, gulf and ocean offer ample opportunities for potential watercraft accidents, including those involving large or small boats, jet skis, sailboats, motorboats, charter vessels and collisions with decks and docks. The Tampa Bay Watercraft and Boating Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have the knowledge and experience needed to handle a wide range of watercraft accidents in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa and Sarasota.

There are many ways that boating accidents can occur, including:

• Negligent or inexperienced boat operators
• Collisions with other boats
• Capsized vessels
• Reckless boat driving
• Explosions or gasoline fires
• Falling overboard
Boat fires, collisions and jet ski accidents can result in serious personal injuries and even death. In many cases, alcohol plays a factor in the accident, and because many watercrafts are not outfitted with seat belts or extensive safety features, the aftermaths can be devastating.

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