Going on your first airboat ride is a right of passage in Miami. Sadly, they’re not as safe as we might have thought. Last May, the day after the University of Miami’s graduation, one graduate piled into an airboat with her parents for a tour of the Everglades. The tour was cut short when the occupants of the airboat were thrown from the vehicle and the graduate, Ellie Goldenberg, was pinned under the airboat, where she drowned. The tragic accident spurred Ms. Goldenberg’s parents to look into the laws and regulations for airboats in Florida. To their shock and dismay, they found that the high-speed vehicles are effectively unregulated.
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Commonly used to give tours of the Everglades, airboat operators do not need to a special operating license or airboat specific safety course before buying their airboat and offering tours. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission does require operators to register their airboats, but insurance isn’t required. Neither are liability waivers, which the Goldenberg family never had to sign. In fact, the operator of the Goldenberg family’s airboat had previously been cited for operating an airboat while under the influence of marijuana, but was still able to operate airboats because of the lax laws.
In response to his discovery, Mr. Goldenberg reached out to Florida legislators in order to increase and improve the almost non-existent regulations for airboats. His push for new legislation was not only heard, but has also spurred the creation of a new law, compassionately called Ellie’s Law.
The bill, HB 1211, just passed in the Florida House of Representatives unanimously, and its companion bill is currently in the Florida Senate. If passed the law will impose significantly more regulation on airboat operators. Requiring the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to create standards for courses specific to airboat operators, and for those operators to have basic first aid and CPR training.
The new legislation would likely address other failures of the current legislation, such as the fact that the Boating Safety Education Identification Card airboat operators (and other boaters) receive is valid for life and only necessary for those born in or after 1988. It is our hope that the legislation is passed before anyone else suffers an airboat accident as a result of the current regulations.
Accidents such as this one are avoidable, and when they occur the liability is a serious issue, especially considering the lack of insurance and liability waivers. If you have found that you or a family member may require a seasoned Miami personal injury lawyer for a boating accident of any kind, Aigen Law Firm, is here to assist you. We understand that in this moment, especially when there is a death or an injured individual, that litigation may not be on your mind. However, your lawyer at Aigen Law Firm will be available to guide you, protect your rights, answer all your questions, and fight to ensure that you maximize your recovery against all responsible parties.
Please do not hesitate to submit an online FREE CASE REVIEW. At Aigen Law Firm, an experienced lawyer is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week working relentlessly on behalf of victims who suffer from all types of accidents. We offer a free consultation for your personal injury case and there is no fee unless we recover for you.