Illegal Charter Boats in Florida Linked to Injuries and Fatalities

The economy has changed in many ways recently. One of those changes is that everything has become on-demand. Anyone can hail a ride through an app. Anyone can rent a room or an entire house in minutes online. Boat owners and operators in Florida noticed the trend and started to rent out their boats by the hour and day. However, while many legitimate boat and yacht operators offer their vessels for rent, Florida authorities have seen a rise in illegitimate vessels renting out their services. These vessels are often operator by individuals without captain licenses. They lack the qualifications, safety gear, and crew training to carry passengers, and because of this, avoidable accidents occur. If you and your friends or relatives were injured on a charter boat ride, and you discovered it was an illegal charter, contact a Miami boating accident lawyer at Gerson & Schwartz P.A. right away. You can reach us through our online form or call (877) 475-2905 to schedule a free consultation.

April 2018 Death of Cesar Meneses Linked to Illegal Charter

Last May, we wrote about the death of Cesar Meneses, who was struck by a propeller of a 91-foot combination yacht and speed boat called the Miami Vice. At the time, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) was investigating the accident. The FWC discovered the Miami Vice, which Meneses and his friends had rented for his birthday, was an illegal charter boat. The boat owner had knowingly hired an unlicensed operator with a history of drug abuse. The vessel captain, Mauricio Alvarez, was not only unlicensed and lacked the training required by the U.S. Coast Guard for a vessel to carry passengers, he was entirely untrained. The Miami Vice owner hired Alvarez after watching him operate a vessel one time, according to an investigation by the Miami New Times.

The U.S. Coast Guard Is on the Lookout for Illegal Charters

The rise in illegal charter boats like the Miami Vice is on the U.S. Coast Guard’s radar. To step up enforcement, the Coast Guard is stopping and inspecting more vessels. A multistate sweep in September 2018 led to 172 vessels being boarded, according to WorkBoat. In October 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard raided two illegal charter boats off the Miami coast. The vessels were stopped and boarded by officials, who discovered inspection, alcohol, and drug violations. When the Coast Guard finds illegal operations, the vessel owners and operators are fined.

Were Injured in on Illegal Charter?

It can be difficult to spot an illegal charter among the legitimate vessels for rent online. On the most common websites used for this purpose, there may be no outward difference. You, like many people outside of the boating industry, are unaware of the licensing and inspection requirements for passenger boats. You may not know to ask to see the captain’s license and to see the vessel’s inspection records. Because of this, you can fall prey to illegal and unsafe charter operations.

If you are injured or a loved one is killed on a rented vessel, contact our boating accident lawyers in Miami immediately. The incident will be investigated by the Florida Wildlife Commission and we will conduct an independent investigation into what happened. We will determine whether the vessel operator was negligence and caused the accident or death. If there is evidence that the vessel owner and operator were not adhering to U.S. Coast Guard regulations, we will use this as evidence of their negligence.

At Gerson & Schwartz P.A., our Miami boat accident attorneys will fight hard for you to receive full and fair compensation for your injuries caused by illegal charter operators. Contact us today at (305) 371-6000 to schedule a free consultation.