Sometimes when you’re injured in an accident, it’s someone else’s fault. Other times, as the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida recently explained in Arcure v. McCabe, it’s your own fault.

Samuel Arcure’s right hand was crushed in a boating accident while he was helping dock a 40-foot Rinker vessel that had been towed in after running out of gas. Arcure was standing on a finger pier as the boat came to shore at Fish Tale Marina in Ft. Myers, where he worked. He testified that the boat – The Landshark – came in at a “miniature crawl,” when he lost the towline and noticed that the bow of the boat was come straight at him. The boat smashed Arcure’s hand against the concrete pylon he had been gripping, causing an injury that required several surgeries and resulted in permanent damage.

Arcure sued William McCabe, the boat’s owner, and Tow Boat US, the company that towed the boat to the dock, for negligence. A bench trial took place in late 2012, during which a number of witnesses and experts testified.

Testifying as an expert on behalf of Arcure, Captain Mitchell Stoller told the court that McCabe was responsible for handling the boat safely because he was the vessel’s captain. He further testified that someone on the boat should have thrown a bow line to Arcure as the boat was docking and that the accident was likely caused by failure to catch the dock with the tow line. Meanwhile, accident reconstruction expert Robert Miller testified for McCabe, stating that Arcure should have known based on experience not to place his hand between the boat and a stationary object.

The court ruled in favor of the defendants, finding that they did not owe a duty to Arcure to protect him from the injury. “While McCabe and Tow Boat US had a duty to avoid harm to others, their duty did not extend to a person who placed a part of his body between a vessel under tow or coasting and an inanimate object,” the court explained. Because both McCabe and the tow boat captain acted reasonably in docking the boat, the court found they could not be held liable for the accident.

According to the court, The Landshark was moving at minimal speed as it neared the pier and docked successfully with no damage to the vessel. Although Stoller opined that someone on the boat should have thrown lines, the court noted that no one claimed that the accident would have been avoided had lines been thrown. Furthermore, it was Arcure – not McCabe or the tow boat operator – who acted unreasonably in placing his hand between the boat and the pylon before it was crushed.

“The Court sympathizes with the injury that Arcure suffered and the repercussions from his injury, however, Arcure failed to prove that McCabe and Tow Boat US were negligent in this case,” the court ruled.

The South Florida boat accident lawyers at Anidjar & Levine pride ourselves in responsive, diligent and cost-effective representation. If you or a loved one were involved in a boating accident in South Florida, please take advantage of a free consultation offered by contacting the firm’s Fort Lauderdale offices at 800-747-3733 or online.

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Duty of Care in Florida Slip and Fall Cases – Sammon v. Target