Jet Ski FAQs

Jet Ski Accident FAQs

Information on Jet Ski Accidents & How to Stay Safe

What Damages Can I Receive if I Have Been Injured in a Jet Ski Accident?
Law may vary state to state depending on the injuries and losses sustained. In Florida, jet ski accident victims may be eligible for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning ability, mental anguish, and loss of companionship, support, or consortium.

Has Anyone Successfully Sued and Won Against the Manufacturer of a Jet Ski Due to an Accident?
The jet ski accident attorneys of Baker & Zimmerman have gone to trial four times against major jet ski manufacturers for defective personal watercrafts, including Bombardier (Sea Doo) and Yamaha (Wave Runner). Baker & Zimmerman hold the largest jet ski verdict in the United States.

  • $39 million jury verdict against Yamaha WaveRunner in a wrongful death jet ski case.
  • $48.5 million submission to the jury against Bombardier Sea Doo in a wrongful death jet ski case. During jury deliberations a confidential settlement was reached between the parties.

Who Should I Contact If I or a Loved One Has Been Injured or Killed in a Jet Ski Accident?
Baker & Zimmerman’sjet ski accident attorneys have a proven track record of courtroom success and are dedicated to defending the injured and holding manufacturers and negligent operators of jet skis accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one have been injured in a jet ski accident or a personal watercraft accident, please contact our Florida jet ski accident lawyers online or call (954) 509-1900. We offer free consultations all over the United States and charge you only if we win your case.

What is a Personal Watercraft or PWC?
Personal Water Crafts (PWC) are recreational water vehicles on which the operator rides or stands, rather than sits inside. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) considers PWC’s to be Class A inboard motor vessels, and as such, they must adhere to the same USCG regulations and standards as any other powerboats in this category—for example, they must have a fire extinguisher on board and must have appropriate signaling devices. They are also subject to USCG manufacturing standards. They must be registered with the state and must obey the Nautical Rules of the Road. Personal watercrafts are often known to the public by brand names that include Jet Ski®, Sea Doo®, WaveRunner®, and Wet Jet®.

What is a Jet Ski?
Jet Ski is the brand name and registered trademark of a Personal Water Craft (PWC) manufactured by Kawasaki. The name is often wrongly used to refer to any type of personal watercraft (Sea Doo®, WaveRunner®, Wet Jet®).

What is a WaveRunner?
A WaveRunner is the trademarked name of personal water craft (PWC) manufactured by the Yamaha Motor Company. WaveRunners are known for the spout of water that it shoots into the air from the rear of the vehicle.

Do I need a License or Certificate to Operate a Jet Ski?
Most states have mandatory boater education requirements. Whether or not your state requires that you take and pass an approved boating safety course depends on your age and the type of boat or personal watercraft you plan to operate. To learn about your state’s requirements visit: www.boat-ed.com/state_laws.htm.

In Florida, anyone born on or after January 1, 1988, is required to either have successfully completed a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators’ (NASBLA) approved boating education course or have passed a course equivalency or temporary certificate examination and have in their possession a boating education ID card and a photo identification card before operating a vessel with a motor of 10 HP or more in Florida, which includes jet skis. Identification cards for persons completing the course or the equivalency exam are good for a lifetime. Temporary Certificate exams are made available to the public through contractors. The temporary certificate is valid for 12 months from the issue date.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Rent or Operate a Jet Ski?
State law may vary. Always check with your state’s boating authority to learn jet ski rental and jet ski operation rules that apply to your specific state. To learn about your state’s rules visit: www.nasbla.net/referenceguide/.

In Florida, in order to operate or rent a jet ski:

  • A person must be at least 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft/jetski in Florida.
  • A person must be at least 18 years of age to rent a personal watercraft/jet ski in Florida.
  • It is unlawful for a person to knowingly allow a person under 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft/jet ski (a second-degree misdemeanor).

How Many People are Injured or Killed on Jet Skis Each Year?
There were more than 764 injuries and 808 deaths on personal water crafts and jet skis in 2011, according to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Recreational Boating Statistics 2011 report.

Are There Other Jet Ski Rules that Operators Must Follow?
Yes. Always check with your state’s boating authority to learn what jet ski usage rules apply in your specific state.

In Florida, operators and users of jet skis rules are:

  • Each person operating, riding on, or being towed behind a personal watercraft must wear an approved non-inflatable Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device (PFD).
  • Inflatable PFDs are prohibited for personal watercraft use.
  • The operator of a personal watercraft must attach the engine cutoff switch lanyard (if equipped by the manufacturer) to his/her person, clothing, or PFD.
  • Personal watercraft may not be operated from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, even if navigation lights are used. (Remember, both federal and state law requires the use of navigation lights from sunset to sunrise.)
  • Maneuvering a personal watercraft by weaving through congested vessel traffic, jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably close or when visibility around the vessel is obstructed, or swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision is classified as reckless operation of a vessel (a first-degree misdemeanor).

Is it Legal to Operate a Jet Ski While Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol?
It is never okay to operate any vehicle, boat, personal watercraft, or jet ski while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Operators will be cited for Boating Under the Influence (BUI) and could face criminal charges, especially if they cause an accident resulting in significant injuries, damage, or deaths.

What are Some of the Common Causes of Jet Ski Accidents?
Some of the most common causes of jet ski and personal water craft accidents include:

  • Jet ski operator error
  • Inexperienced jet ski drivers
  • Jet ski driver distractions
  • Jet ski operator reckless driving or speeding
  • Lack of proper protective equipment
  • Lack of jet ski operator safety warnings
  • Lack of jet ski operator instruction and training
  • Jet ski operator boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Negligence of another jet ski operator, personal water craft operator, or boat operator
  • Unsafe design or defects in the watercraft or jet ski

What Types of Jet Ski Injuries Do Operators and Passengers Sustain in Jet Ski Accidents?
Common jet ski injuries can include amputations, broken bones, burns, concussions, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and wrongful death.

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