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Boat Run Over Accidents in Florida: The Danger for Divers and Snorkelers


Being run over by a boat is arguably the most traumatic event a diver or snorkeler in Florida can endure. Diver run-over and other boat accidents are not uncommon in West Palm Beach and elsewhere in Florida. The Sunshine State has more registered boats than any other state, while its year-round warm weather brings divers and snorkelers from all across the country.

Unfortunately, a high number of people in the water combined with a high amount of boat traffic can be a recipe for disaster. Boat accidents involving divers and snorkelers often occur due to lack of supervision, inadequate training, poor judgment, improperly maintained equipment, and failure to follow safety guidelines.

Speak with a West Palm Beach boat accident attorney if you were injured in a boat run over or scuba-diving accident to determine if your case involves maritime and admiralty law.

Boat Run Over Accident in West Palm Beach

Just recently, a horrifying boat run over accident triggered a national discussion about the adequacy of divers-down flags and other warnings to warn boaters of divers and snorkelers in the area.

According to The Palm Beach Post, a terrifying accident that severed a 25-year-old man’s arm has divers, snorkelers, and other ocean-goers debating about whether traditional divers-down flags are enough protection against similar accidents.

The Thanksgiving Day accident involved Carter Viss, a musician and marine biologist at Loggerhead Marinelife Center. The young man had much of his right arm severed, and his legs mangled in a freak boating accident.

Viss was diving when the propeller of the 36-foot boat severed his arm. According to the Sun-Sentinel, there were multiple open cans of alcoholic beverages on the vessel at the time of the Thanksgiving Day collision.

Are Inadequate Safety Measures to Blame for Boat Run Over Accidents?

Witnesses said at least one legally-required dive flag was in the vicinity, while others claim that there were possibly up to three of them. Safety advocates argue that it is time to revisit the existing law regarding safety measures that serve as a warning to boaters and prevent boat run over accidents.

In the past five years, Florida lawmakers have enacted measures to improve warning devices for divers and snorkelers in the Sunshine State. One of them was to approve the red flag with a white diagonal stripe, but people argue that the traditional divers-down flags are inadequate to protect people in the water and save lives.

The boat that hit the young man in West Palm Beach was coming off plane when the freak accident occurred. Currently, Florida law imposes no legal speed limits for operating vessels in state waters other than in a designated no-wake or slow speed zone.

Causes of Boat Run Over Accidents in Florida

Most accidents in which a boat strikes a diver occur due to the boat operator’s failure to:

  • Operate at a safe speed
  • Maintain a proper lookout
  • Obey warning signs, including divers-down flags
  • Operate sober
  • Keep 100 feet from diver flags or buoy in rivers, channels, and inlets
  • Keep 300 feet from diver flags on all other waters
  • Use marine electronics and navigational avoidance systems

Regardless of how your boat run-over accident occurred, contact a West Palm Beach boating accident attorney at Pike & Lustig, LLP, to discuss liability in your situation. Call at 561-291-8298 for a case review.





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