Legislators in Florida are seeking to pass “Ellie’s Law,” an initiative that would require licensing and mandate training classes for operators of airboats. Though many types of marine vehicles already require drivers to be properly trained before transporting tourists, a loophole in existing laws failed to extend those requirements to all vessels. Now, a law addressing this loophole has passed out of Committee in the Florida House of Representatives.
The law is named after Ellie Goldenberg, a 22-year-old woman who was killed while celebrating her college graduation with an airboat ride when the ship tipped and she was trapped underneath. Her family was astonished to learn that such accidents were fairly common, resulting in multiple deaths and over 100 injuries in just the last few years.
It is reasonable to assume that tourist attractions such as airboats would be regulated by the state, particularly those which require the operation of a vehicle in potentially unsafe conditions. Any time passengers are carried over a body of water such as a lake, ocean, or river, there is the possibility of serious injury or even death to occur. Ensuring these vessels are safe is important.
Boats are a popular vacation attraction, and tourists should do their best to educate themselves on local laws and customs regarding safety requirements for any craft they board. But in some situations, determining those rules and regulations can be difficult, particularly if certain craft such as airboats have different requirements than other, similar vessels.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating accident, determining the applicable rules and regulations is important. An experienced attorney can evaluate your case and help you understand the legal framework that governs these types of incidents. Please, retain a qualified lawyer to help you with your case.