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Florida law requires vessels to have flotation devices

On Behalf of | Jun 18, 2024 | Boating Accidents |

Personal flotation devices (PFD), which are more commonly known as life jackets, are among the most important safety equipment on any boat. If you’re spending the day on someone’s boat, you should be able to assume that it has enough PFDs for everyone on board.

More specifically (and under Florida law), the PFDs need to be the right sizes for the people on board at any given time. Adult PFDs, for example, provide little, if any, safety for children. Children’s sizes in most cases won’t fit adults. Further, the PFDs need to be U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved. Further, vessels that are at least 16 feet long are required to have a “throwable device” (life preserver) that’s also USCG approved on board.

Why to wear a PFD even if you don’t have to

Florida law doesn’t require adults to wear life jackets on boats. They are required to wear them if they’re on a personal watercraft (PWC) like a jet ski or being pulled by one. Only children under 6 are required to wear life jackets if they’re on a vessel under 26 feet long. 

It’s certainly wise, however, for adults to wear them. Even if you’re on a boat operated by an experienced boater, you never know when the boat could capsize from a collision with another vessel or bad weather. Further, even if you’re an excellent swimmer, you could strike your head on the boat or something in the water. People can also become disoriented from their medications, alcohol or vertigo.

Often, people don’t learn until it’s too late that a vessel that got into trouble didn’t have any flotation devices on board – let alone enough to fit everyone properly.  If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or worse because the appropriate safety equipment wasn’t available, it’s wise to determine what your legal options are for getting justice and compensation.