Practice Areas

Cabin Cruiser Accidents

Cabin cruisers are extremely popular in Florida, especially for those with families and small children. They are essentially powerboats with cabins. Typical features include a galley (kitchen), a head (toilet) and at least one or more berths (sleeping areas). Many also have an aft cabin (dining area) and a spacious cockpit section.

These sizable vessels range from 24 to 45 feet in length, and can be operated by a single person. While providing similar amenities to yachts, cabin cruisers tend to be less complicated transport, easier to store and less expensive to purchase. Most also have air conditioning, heated water and power generators. That makes them an attractive option for many people, especially for longer trips or entertaining. Inboard drive is especially favored by those navigating brackish or saltwater bodies.

The Fort Myers boat accident lawyers at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, know these vessels are also involved in a significant portion of boating accidents in Florida.

According to a recent report from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, cabin motorboats were involved in more than 28 percent of all reported boating accidents in the state in 2013 (208 out of 736).

On a broader scale, national statistics in 2011 revealed the following:

  • Cabin cruisers were involved in 858 accidents.
  • These cabin cruiser accidents resulted in 277 injuries and 47 deaths.
  • About half of the deaths stemming from cabin cruiser accidents were caused by drowning.
  • Primary causes of cabin cruiser accidents were improper lookout, operator inattention and failure of machinery.
  • Most common types of accidents involving cabin cruisers were collisions with other boats or vessels, collisions with fixed objects and grounding.

Part of the reason these boats are involved in such a high percentage of serious and fatal boating accidents has to do with their popularity. However, in recent years, there has also been an issue with speed-related accidents. Newer cabin cruisers tend to be much faster than older models because manufacturers have released designs featuring improved hydrodynamics and aerodynamics. While these vessels usually provide smooth turns and stable rides, that can provide a false sense of security for operators when it comes to pace.

Just because an operator can go faster doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Of the 53 deadly boating accidents in Florida in 2013, 32 occurred while the vessel was in cruising mode, and excessive speed is consistently cited as one of the top 10 causes of boating fatalities.

Cabin cruisers are usually considered Class 1 or Class 2 recreational vessels depending on their size, and must adhere to minimum safety requirements, as listed here and here.

Cabin Cruisers and Carbon Monoxide

While carbon monoxide poisoning may be a risk on any vessel, it’s especially concerning in cabin cruisers because of the existence of an enclosed space.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced when material containing carbon burns. This can include gasoline, wood, natural gas, oil, or coal. In high concentrations, exposure to carbon monoxide can be deadly in a matter of minutes.

Cabin cruiser owners and operators must be mindful of boat ventilation and conduct a thorough inspection prior to taking the vessel under way. The U.S. Coast Guard recommends such an inspection should include:

  • These cabin cruiser accidents resulted in 277 injuries and 47 deaths.
  • About half of the deaths stemming from cabin cruiser accidents were caused by drowning.
  • Primary causes of cabin cruiser accidents were improper lookout, operator inattention and failure of machinery.
  • Most common types of accidents involving cabin cruisers were collisions with other boats or vessels, collisions with fixed objects and grounding.
Cabin Cruiser Insurance

Florida law does not require owners of cabin cruisers to secure insurance for their vessel, even though the average cost of ownership—$50,000—far exceeds what one would expect to pay for a motor vehicle. Still, purchasing insurance is smart, not just because it protects one’s investment, but also because it will shield owners and/or operators from liability in the event a collision results in serious injury or death.

In such an event, an insurance company typically provides coverage for legal expenses and court fees, as well as damages paid to injured parties or survivors of decedents.

Many companies also recommend an additional personal umbrella policy, which provides additional coverage when damages claimed in a civil lawsuit exceed the limits of a boat liability policy.

When an individual is injured as a result of negligence by an uninsured boater, there may be an option to pursue uninsured or underinsured coverage from the injured party’s watercraft insurance, assuming such coverage was secured prior to the crash. However, there are scores of exclusions, and insurance companies tend to fight these claims vigorously.

Our experienced Fort Myers Beach boat accident lawyers are familiar with these types of challenges, and have consistently overcome them to win clients compensation for damages.

Contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. There are no fees or costs unless we win. Offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte.

Call 800-646-1210 for a Free Consultation

Client Reviews
Bruce L. Scheiner and his team were the most friendly people I've ever met they genuinely cared about me... I highly recommend them
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I was really satisfied with services I received. Bruce is not only an attorney, but like family. He got me three times what I thought I would receive and was always there when I needed an answer on something. I'd say he is the best attorney I have dealt with in my 68 years. Harry Zulauf
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I found working with the BLS firm to be a very good experience. They kept me informed on my case, answered all my questions, and were prompt when I needed assistance. Wendy Walker
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I was in an accident and BLS was very helpful and gave a lot of support. If I had any questions, it was just a phone call away. Everyone in the office is very nice and helpful. Celeste Thompson
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We had a wonderful experience with everyone here. The staff and attorneys were friendly, knowledgeable, and compassionate. They inquired about our injuries and our recovery. I would highly recommend their services! Heather Bair Daniels
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I have nothing but good things to say about this law firm. I can honestly say that I am very satisfied with their work and my end results. I would absolutely recommend these set of attorneys to anyone. Thank you guys for all the hard work! Merida McDonald
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BLS was incredibly helpful with my case, even during the hard challenging periods of my case Bruce & PJ were always just a call away. Even though they couldn't answer my call at that direct moment, they ALWAYS made a point to call me back. The staff at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner were always helpful and friendly, if they didn't have the answer they would always call me back with what I needed to know. Robert Drawdy
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