All along the Gulf Coast, people enjoy riding personal watercraft, which most people refer to as jet skis. Their relative affordability, ease of use and low maintenance costs have made jet skis popular among watercraft enthusiasts.

However, over the years, serious jet ski accidents have taken lives and left many families devastated. The reality is that driving a jet ski is not as simple as riding a bike.

The design itself is often a factor.

Jet skis have no braking mechanism, and to steer a jet ski, you have to accelerate. However, many jet ski operators instinctively let off the throttle or hit the kill switch in an effort to avoid a collision. This leaves the operator unable to steer, and unlike a traditional boat, jet skis are rudderless, so the operator is unable to stop.

In fact, steering loss is a cause of many serious jet ski accidents every year in the United States.

Florida has specific regulations for the operation of jet skis, but rental companies and jet ski operators don’t always follow the rules.

People who rent jet skis typically sign a release form saying that the rental company explained how to operate the watercraft. However, a release form may be invalid if the rental company failed to instruct the renter and this failure resulted in an accident.

Many jet ski collisions are associated with undertrained operators and underage operators, as well as excessive speed, reckless operation, alcohol consumption, inattention and failure to follow the “Rules of the Road.”

Victims or their families may be entitled to compensation.

At the Law Offices of John W. Merting, P.A., we represent victims of personal watercraft accidents. To learn more about the legal options available to victims and their families, please see our overview of recreational boating accidents.