Experienced Maritime Injury Attorney
Frank Butler is one of Florida’s most experienced maritime injury attorneys. He can help you with representation related to maritime injury and death cases including:
- CRUISE SHIP INJURIES
- BOATING ACCIDENTS
- JETSKI ACCIDENTS
- PARASAIL ACCIDENTS
- INSURANCE CLAIMS
- MARINE SALVAGE
What difference does it make if your claim is governed by maritime law or not? The answer to that question has many serious repercussions for you:
WHERE A CLAIM HAS TO BE FILED.
WHAT LAWS APPLY TO YOUR CLAIM.
WHAT STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS APPLY TO YOUR CLAIM.
Maritime law is a form of common law or law built by custom, that has been passed down for hundreds of years. Maritime law is also made up of certain federal statutes passed by Congress.
Some state court decisions also factor into maritime law. This is why it is important to find a maritime attorney to handle your claim that knows the maritime law and has actually handled maritime cases.
TYPES OF CLAIMS WHERE MARITIME LAW MAY APPLY:
- Boating collisions in “navigable waters”.
- Collisions between Jet Skis. (Also known as Personal Water Craft: “PWC”)
- Boat or Jet Ski striking swimmer.
- Injuries occurring on rented vessels.
- Cruise Ship injuries. (See our Cruise Ship page on this website.)
- Parasailing injuries.
- Injuries at or near docks.
- Injuries on offshore gambling vessels.
- Injuries where vessels strike bridges.
10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- If your claim is a maritime claim, the statute of limitations is usually shorter than under most State Court claims.
- A vessel owner can file a Limitation action against you to limit your recovery.
- U.S. Coast Guard Rules of Road governs the conduct of vessels in “navigable water”.
- If you are injured on a vessel, that vessel may also be responsible for your injury.
- If you are injured on a vessel that has no insurance, you may be able to sue the vessel.
- You should be very careful of waivers you sign when renting a Jet Ski, a boat, or going on a parasail, in that you may release all liability of the rental company.
- There is little safety oversight on JetSki rentals, boat rentals, or parasail companies.
- If you are injured within a fully enclosed lake, your claim may not be maritime in nature but you need to know what it is.
- In maritime law the owner of a vessel is responsible for the safe entry and exit of passengers.
- Maritime law places many duties on a captain of a vessel for the safety of his passengers.
DON’T HIRE A PRETENDER:
Many attorneys advertise for maritime injury cases. There are more than 100,000 attorneys licensed in the State of Florida. Many attorneys say they handle maritime claims. It has been estimated that there are only approximately 100 attorneys in the State of Florida that handle maritime cases. Make sure the attorney you are considering has actually filed suit against maritime defendants, and that they are not just saying they do maritime work. The attorney you choose should be able to answer the following questions: Where would I have to file suit?
- What is the statute of limitations for my claim?
- How many maritime cases have you actually handled?
- On how many maritime claims have you actually filed suit?
- Are you just going to refer out my claim to a maritime attorney?
- Are you going to file my case in federal or state court?
HOW DOES IT WORK?
When a person is injured in the maritime context—most commonly due to a vessel collision, or some other error of a vessel operator, or a Jet Ski or rental boat mishap—the at-fault party’s insurance company quickly becomes involved. You need to be careful what you say and do. Evidence needs to be preserved. Photographs need to be taken. Names of witnesses need to be gotten. Know that everything you say to an insurance representative for the at-fault party is going to be used against you. It is like the Miranda warning: “Anything you say can and will be used against you”. Do you have to give a statement to the insurance company? It depends. You absolutely, 100%, have the right to have an attorney with you—looking out for you—before you give any statement to any insurance company. For more information, read below about Limitation of Liability actions against you.
888BoatLaw: Your Boating Accident Attorney
When you need an experienced boating accident attorney with more than twenty years of experience handling boating accident cases, Jet Skis and boating collisions, call us at 888-Boat-Law (888-262-8529) to represent you. There is never any charge to discuss your case. You should pursue your case quickly! We will want to obtain any video, photographs, and witness identities. Also it is important that we get the vessels involved examined before they are repaired or destroyed. This is your case. Pursue it quickly!
MOST COMMON TYPES OF CASES WE SEE:
- Boating collisions with other vessels.
- Boating collisions with fixed objects (channel markers, sandbars, docks, etc.)
- Boating injuries from operator going too fast under the conditions. (Includes passengers being bounced up in the air, passengers thrown forward or backward due to sudden acceleration or deceleration, sudden sharp turns, etc.)
- Slip and falls on vessels.
- Boats/Jet Skis striking swimmers.
- Injuries during boat rentals or Jet Ski rentals.
- Injuries on Jet Ski “tours” because of novice operators, inadequate training.
- Embarkation/debarkation injuries on docks, ladders, gangways.
- Parasail accidents. (Towing rope breaking. Operator error. Weather interaction.)
- Dockside injuries.
BAD INJURIES. NO INSURANCE? STILL ANOTHER OPTION:
Consider this scenario. You were injured when you went out on a neighbor’s vessel and he either hits a channel marker driving recklessly, or bounced over a wake at such speed you were thrown into the air and landed on your back. To make matters worse, you have now found out that your previous friend and neighbor allowed his insurance to expire on his fancy go-fast boat. If this was an automobile case you would be confined to two choices: forget it, or sue the guy and try to collect from him personally. In maritime law under many circumstances, you may have the ability to file suit directly against the vessel. This is known as an in rem claim. (Latin for “the thing”.) If the vessel involved in your injury has worth—even if there is no insurance on it–you may be able to pursue the vessel directly and force it to be sold to pay toward your injuries. If you are unsure of whom to choose to represent you, ask the attorney if they have ever successfully done an in rem claim, or if they even know what an in rem claim is.
LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Insurance companies frequently resort to Limitation of Liability actions against injured persons. This is a law from 1851 passed by Congress to help the U.S. commercial maritime fleet compete with England, France, Spain, Portugal, etc. The law said that if a casualty occurred involving an owner’s vessel—and the owner was not negligent, nor in close contact with the at-fault operator of the vessel—then the owner’s liability would be no more than the worth of the vessel–after the casualty. Unfortunately, when Congress passed that law in 1851 they never said it only applied to commercial vessels. When the U.S Supreme Court looked at the issue they concluded the statute applied to recreational vessels as well. Why is this important to you?
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CASE IS A MARITIME CASE?
Knowing whether a claim is maritime or not can be difficult. Then there is the question of how is the claim to be pursued. It is imperative that your claim be analyzed correctly, as stated above, for many important reasons. (See for instance, above, “10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW”.)In the State of Florida if your injury occurred over saltwater, it is almost certain to be a maritime case. Lakes or rivers that pass through to bigger bodies of water may also be maritime in nature. This will include also certain sections of the Everglades that may be viewed by the Courts as maritime in nature, but some portions of the Everglades are not considered maritime. Fully enclosed lakes may not be maritime in nature, but you have to be careful that the lake does not have a tributary and/or a discharge into another body of water. Also NOTE: the State of Florida has adopted many of the rules that govern maritime cases. This is a complex area of law; it is very important you hire an attorney who has handled maritime and non-maritime claims.
SHUTTLE BOAT FIRE: NOW WHAT? – asks an unidentified attorney!
It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. While that may be true in fashion it should not apply to surgeons, accountants or attorneys you are considering. We note that our law firm was the only law firm to file a state Court action for our client who was injured in the January 14, 2018 shuttle boat fire involving Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, LLC. We note that we were also the first law firm to file a claim in federal court for our client when the vessel owners filed a claim for Limitation And/Or Exoneration (we were publicly recognized through the local TV stations and Tampa Bay newspaper that Tropical Breeze was trying to limit all claimants’ injuries and damages to a total of $27,300 -not, per claimant, but total!).
Would you trust your surgeon, accountant or attorney who you thought was an expert in his or her field, but who had to copy off someone else’s paper? Wouldn’t you just want to go with the attorney who knows what is going on?
We see that at least the next filed claimant liked our work enough to include much of our work verbatim in their claim. Hmm, wonder what their next move is? Wonder if they know?
We also had a large law firm call us and ask us why we had filed suit for our client in state Court. Aren’t they supposed to know the answer to that question if they are attorneys representing shuttle-boat fire claimants? You see, in Florida, there are over 102,000 attorneys licensed to practice law. But as few as 100 or so are actually practicing maritime attorneys. Of those 100 attorneys, you can be sure that at least half of them work for insurance companies, cruise lines, and corporations and not for claimants (like we represent.)
Of importance is that many attorneys in Florida say they do “boat law”, “boat crashes”, “cruise ship cases”, etc. Yes, they say they handle those types of cases. But do they really handle these types of cases, or do they have to copy off of our work? Some even make the foolish statement that they “know the waters” of Tampa Bay or Ft. Myers, Naples or Miami, etc., and that this somehow makes them qualified to handle maritime cases.
But why would an attorney represent himself or herself as knowing the maritime law when they really don’t? They believe they will be able to muddle their way through the case and stumble into a good result. Is that the type of professional you would want working for you? Can you imagine what the next conference is between the non-maritime attorneys and their clients: “OK, Mr. Attorney, what are we doing next?” “I have to wait and see what Frank Butler’s firm is going to do next, and then I will get back with you.”
Protect yourself. Take our challenge. Google search the name of Frank D. Butler, PA, our maritime law firm, and any major cruise line, and you will see where we have filed suit against every major cruise line for our clients–including recently. Now place the name of the other attorneys plus any major cruise line, and you will see that most have never filed one suit against the cruise industry.
Make a wise choice for your claim and your family. Any attorney can say they practice in maritime law but do you want the law firm who copies off of our papers, or do you want the firm that knows maritime law to work for you.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU RIGHT NOW WITH YOUR CASE.
DON’T HIRE A FLIPPER TO BE YOUR LAWYER
No, not the Dolphin. Don’t hire an attorney who will just assign a number to your case and then call you one day to inform you that he/she “settled” your case for you. Of course, the big advertiser law firms talk about successful cases, but is that what usually happens or is it something less happy that occurs?
How To Know If You Have Already Hired “Flipper” To Represent You.
- You never talk with an attorney.
- You usually never get to talk with the paralegal either.
- You have no idea what is going on in your case.
- It has been a long time since you heard from anyone about your case.
- When you do talk with someone they don’t know the facts of your case.
- Out of the blue, one day the law firm calls and says you need to settle your case.
- Your case has been with law firm a long time with no progress forward on it.
7 THINGS WE PROMISE:
- We will call you by your name.
- We will not assign a number to your case.
- We will timely call you back.
- We will keep you informed on what’s going on in your case.
- We will not resolve your case without your authorization.
- We will fight for the best result in your case.
- We will not just flip your case to be able to get to the next case.
Here are 5 questions you can ask to help your decision.
- Ask the potential attorney how many total cases they are handling right now.
- Ask how long they have been practicing law.
- Ask how long they have been with that particular law firm.
- Ask how many cases they have filed suit on in the last 12 months.
- Ask how many trials they have conducted in the last 12 months, 24 months.
Many high-volume firms go through attorneys who will come and go quickly to another law firm. Many times law firms are hiring attorneys with only a couple of years’ experience and then loading them down with heavy caseloads. Another hallmark of high-volume firms is that they don’t want to file suit for you—and this is because it is time-consuming. Therefore, some of the high-volume firms will not file suit, will not go to trial for you, but will simply take whatever the insurance company will throw them on your case. In short, they “Flip” your case, and go on to the next case without regard to whether you are obtaining a fair result. Don’t Hire Flipper As Your Lawyer.