South Florida watercraft accidents a summer danger

A man was injured in a South Florida personal watercraft accident on Lake Okeechobee, the Palm Beach Post reported.

The water scooter accident happened near Pahokee State Park on Memorial Day. A man and a woman were riding scooters about 4:30 p.m. when the man crashed, according to a spokesman with Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue.

The victim was transported to a local hospital with possible injuries to his back and arm.

Jet Ski accidents and accidents involving personal watercraft continue to plague South Florida waterways. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports that six South Florida counties place in the top 11 for rate of watercraft accidents, including Broward (5th), Collier (11th), Lee (6th), Miami-Dade (4th), Monroe (1st) and Palm Beach (10th). More than 40,000 personal watercraft are registered in South Florida and dozens of riders are injured each year in accidents.

More than 600 Florida watercraft accidents occur each year, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. And more than 140 riders have been killed in each of the last 5 years.

Most fatal accidents occur in the Ocean or Gulf, although about one-third happen in bays, lakes or ponds. In nearly half of all accidents, a watercraft is struck by another vessel. Other causes include colliding with a fixed object, falls, and skiing mishaps.

South Florida watercraft accidents can involve a number of factors, but poorly maintained rental equipment and other issues associated with rental watercraft continue to contribute to a significant number of serious and fatal accidents. Additionally, poor design, lack of proper warning labels and unclear operator instructions can also contribute to watercraft accidents.

Most personal water scooters do not even have brakes, making them difficult or impossible to stop when a rider is not using the throttle — as is often the case when attempting to avoid an accident. Anyone injured as the result of a watercraft accident, should contact a South Florida injury lawyer to discuss their rights.