Unfortunately, “usually” can sometimes be far away from “always.” From 2014 to 2016, over 75 airboats have been in reported accidents, injuring 102 passengers and killing seven. That’s not much compared to the over 12,000 registered airboats or the 1,000 registered for commercial use, but the words “That wasn’t very likely” are a cold comfort to the people who were injured or the families of those who died.
A Regulation Problem
One of the big issues in Florida is the fact that, while airboats and airboat tours are popular, the state has few regulations for operating them or using them commercially. Passengers don’t have to wear lifejackets even though the waters can get deep, and their seats don’t need seatbelts. Commercial operators don’t have to go through any safety training, and they don’t even have to meet any age restrictions. And all this despite the fact that airboats are notoriously tricky to pilot.
The Value Of Waivers
Some swamp tour businesses will have their passengers sign waivers before going on a trip. After all, a Florida swamp can be a dangerous place, and even an experienced driver can only do so much to protect his or her passengers. If a passenger leans too far and falls overboard, or if an aggressive alligator snaps at a nearby foot, the driver should be the first person trying to help, but they can only do so much to keep these things from happening in the first place.
That’s the idea, anyway. A waiver can let passengers know they’re entering dangerous waters, but it can’t protect drivers from the consequences of their actions. The vast majority of airboat accidents are attributed to pilot error: drinking while piloting, reckless piloting, ignoring right-of-way rules, and so forth. If pilots cause accidents for reasons like these and people get injured, no waiver is going to protect them from litigation.
Your Legal Recourse
If you suffer an injury during a swamp tour, your case would clearly fall under personal injury law. Tour companies implicitly or explicitly promise that they will keep you as safe as possible, even if you make a mistake, and so they’re liable if the tour guide makes a mistake or neglects the safety of a tourist. Both the guide and the company that hired the guide can be found liable for injuries suffered by their guests.
Of course, a case like this doesn’t have to go through litigation. The majority of personal injury cases get settled out of court, because the party at fault is obvious. If they’re willing to pay fair compensation for medical bills and other damages, then that’s the end of it. It’s not the happiest of negotiations, but so long as it’s fair it can be over quickly.
However, sometimes companies or the insurance companies that represent them can be stubborn, and that’s when it pays to bring in a professional personal injury lawyer. At All Injuries Law Firm, we represent clients in Port Charlotte and throughout southwestern Florida, and we help them get the just compensation they deserve. We’re prepared to go to trial if that’s what it takes, and because insurance adjusters know that they’re often willing to provide bigger payouts to avoid the expense. And that’s just one way a legal representative can help you.