Can You Sue if a Person Was Drunk Driving a Boat in Florida?

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In Florida, boating under the influence (BUI) is against the law. People who cause an accident could be both criminally prosecuted and civilly liable for the harm and damage they cause. Nearly one-third of fatalities that occur in recreational boating accidents are the result of alcohol consumption. At Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A, we are dedicated to holding negligent boat operators accountable for common causes of boat and yacht accidents in Florida. that they cause. Below, our Florida boat accident attorney discusses lawsuits arising from operating a boat while drunk.

Alcohol Will Impair a Florida Boat Operator’s Judgment

Alcohol is a depressant that slows an individual’s sensory abilities. Even if you consume a small amount, your mental and physical capabilities could be impaired. When someone is operating a boat under the influence of alcohol, they present an unreasonable danger to passengers on their boat and other people in their vicinity.

Some of the usual conditions associated with boating, including the heat and sun, increase the adverse effects of alcohol. When someone is operating a boat while drinking, they are likely to cause an accident because of their diminished abilities, including depth perception, balance, coordination, and reaction time.

Filing a Lawsuit in Florida if You Were Injured in a Boating Accident Caused by a Drunk Operator

If you suffered an injury because someone was operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol, whether you were the passenger on their boat or another one, you are entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation. In some instances, you or your boat does not have to come into contact with another vessel. For example, if you were injured because a drunk operator created an unreasonably dangerous wake, they could be held accountable for the harm you suffered.

To prevail in a personal injury claim arising from a boating accident, our Miami personal injury attorney will have to prove that the defendant was negligent. Anyone who operates a boat is responsible for their passengers’ safety and others who might be reasonably harmed by their conduct. Legally, this is known as a duty of care. Part of proving negligence is demonstrating that the defendant’s conduct deviated from what a prudent and similarly qualified person would do under comparable circumstances. Operating a boat while intoxicated is always a violation of this duty.

Establishing that an operator’s behavior was inappropriate is only the first step. Next, a plaintiff needs to show that the defendant’s conduct caused their injury. If a drunk operator creates an unreasonably unsafe wake but no one is injured, they could be criminally charged but are not civilly liable. Therefore, it is critical that our Miami boat accident lawyer is able to prove a connection between the defendant’s actions and the harm you suffered.

Lawsuits arising out of boating accidents are often very complicated. One of the reasons for this is that where the injury occurred will impact what law governs in your case. For example, if a boating accident happens in navigable waters, maritime law would apply. Our experienced Florida Keys boat accident attorneys understand the significant differences between federal admiralty court and Florida civil court. The governing law will impact what is required to prove negligence and how you could recover for your damages.

Damages Available in a Florida Boating Accident

Damages is the legal term that refers to what an injured person could be monetarily compensated for through a personal injury lawsuit. Whether you were injured in a Florida car crash or a boating accident, the damages available are similar.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the financial losses you incurred because of your injury. For example, if you required an airlift to a hospital for emergency surgery, the cost of the transportation, medical treatment, and any other hospital cost would be recoverable in a lawsuit. However, economic damages include more than medical expenses. Our Tampa Bay boat accident lawyer will gather evidence, such as receipts, bills, medical records, and other documents to support your claim.

Many injuries suffered in a drunk boating accident are temporarily or permanently debilitating. If you are out of work for weeks, or unable to return at all, you could recover your past and future lost income. Our office will work with your employer and financial experts to determine exactly how much income you will have lost due to your injury.

Noneconomic Damages

Calculating your financial losses is typically a straightforward process. However, if you are injured in a boating accident, you are also entitled to recover for the pain and suffering you endured. Noneconomic damages are challenging to quantify but include a wide range of possible injuries. For example, a victim in a boating accident could recover for their loss of sleep, anxiety, or fear of the water. Additionally, the physical pain associated with an injury will vary from person to person. Our office will work with you, your family, friends, and medical professionals to calculate a justifiable amount for your pain and suffering.

Call Our Boat Accident Injury Lawyer if a Drunk Operator Harmed You

Boating is fun and relaxing. Because of the fantastic weather and thousands of miles of scenic waterways that Florida offers, it has more boaters than just about any other state. However, when people are reckless and operate their boats while under the influence of alcohol, accidents occur. In many cases, these accidents result in severe or deadly injuries. Our Dania Beach boat accident attorney is committed to holding irresponsible boat operators accountable for the harm they cause. If you or a loved one was injured in a boating accident, call the Florida Yacht accident lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. at (305) 204-5369 to schedule a free consultation.


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Brett Rivkind is a lawyer that not only cares but also a lawyer that makes a difference. Whether its speaking in congress to help promote safety awareness in legislation or representing clients in court seeking compensation for their injuries, Brett Rivkind is passionate about his dedication toward both promoting safety at sea and helping clients in need who have been harmed at sea.

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Jury verdict obtained by Brett Rivkind selected to hall of fame of jury verdicts. This case is believed to be a record verdict of this particular type of case.

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