Boat accidents caused by an intoxicated operator are one of the leading causes of boat accidents in the country. The injuries from a boat accident caused by a drunk driver can be devasting and even prove fatal. Victims of an intoxicated boat operator might not know what legal options are available to hold an intoxicated operator responsible.
An attorney who is experienced with boat accidents caused by intoxicated operation can help you with the challenges that a boat accident lawsuit presents. The intoxicated operation of a boat is illegal, but evidence will be needed to prove that the operator was over the legal limit. There are also important federal and state rules and deadlines that can significantly impact your case.
If you have been injured in a boat accident caused by an intoxicated operator, our boat accident attorneys can help you get justice for your injuries. Call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. at (305) 204-5369 for a free case review.
Defining Intoxicated Operation of a Boat
Just like driving a car under the influence of alcohol or drugs, operating a boat while intoxicated is illegal in every state. A boat operator can be found guilty of intoxicated operation if their blood alcohol concentration levels are 0.08% or higher. They might also be found guilty of intoxicated operation if they are impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol to the point that they cannot safely operate the boat.
You could still have a claim even if the operator’s blood alcohol level was not found to be over 0.08%. Suppose the operator was found to have been drinking but not legally intoxicated. In that case, that evidence could be used to show that the boat operator acted negligently when the accident occurred.
This also applies to other vessels that cause an intoxicated operation accident. State boating laws usually apply to anything considered a “watercraft,” like boats, jet skis, canoes, sailboats, and other motorized and non-motorized vessels. Our boat accident attorneys can help you collect important evidence to prove that the boat operator that caused your injuries was intoxicated at the time.
Why Operating a Boat While Intoxicated is Dangerous
The intoxicated operation of a boat is the country’s leading cause of boat-related fatalities. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, boat accidents caused by an intoxicated operator accounted for 18% of boat-related deaths in 2020. So, while boat accidents are dangerous in general, boat accidents caused by intoxicated operation are particularly life-threatening.
Operating a boat is challenging, requiring attention and skill from its operator. However, an operator under the influence of alcohol or drugs will have those abilities negatively affected in several ways. Alcohol affects physical and cognitive abilities, making it difficult for the operator to react in time and make smart choices. Intoxication also decreases vision and reduces depth perception, which could cause an operator to take their boat too close to the dock, another vessel, or swimmers. Further, boat stressors like noise, sun glare, and the vibration from wakes can also adversely affect a boat operator under the influence, increasing the chances of an accident. Our boat accident attorneys can help you recover the compensation you deserve from an intoxicated boat operator.
Common Types of Boat Accidents Caused by Intoxicated Operation
Your chances of being injured in a boat accident drastically increase when an intoxicated operator is involved. An operator’s poor judgment and slow reaction time can cause serious accidents resulting in devastating injuries and even death. The following are just a few of the types of accidents an intoxicated operator could cause:
- Collisions with other vessels and stationary objects
- Operator or passenger falling overboard
- Poor judgment regarding weather and other environmental conditions
- Slow reaction to emergencies occurring on or around the boat
There could be countless other ways an intoxicated boat operator causes your injuries. Our boat accident lawyers can help regardless of how an intoxicated boat operator injured you.
Time Limit to File a Lawsuit After a Boat Accident Caused by Intoxicated Operation
The time limit to file a lawsuit after being injured in a boat accident caused by an intoxicated operator is known as the statute of limitations. The deadline will depend on what jurisdiction the accident occurred in, either state or federal.
If the boat accident happened in a body of water adjoining more than one state, like an ocean, then it will fall under the federal government’s jurisdiction, and you will have four years from the date of the accident to file your lawsuit. If you were injured by an intoxicated boat operator in a waterway completely inside a state, that state’s statute of limitations would apply. The statute of limitations varies from state to state, so it is important to determine what jurisdiction your accident occurred in and what deadline applies.
The jurisdiction in which your accident happened will also likely dictate what court you file your boat accident lawsuit. If the accident happened in federal waters, you would usually file your lawsuit in federal court. You must file in the appropriate state court if the accident occurred in a state waterway. Failure to file in the proper court will mean your case will be dismissed, and you will need to restart the filing process from the beginning.
Restarting the filing process could cost precious time you might not have. Whether state or federal, the statute of limitations is strict and has few exceptions. In most cases, if you miss the filing deadline, you will not be able to litigate your case. Our boat accident lawyers have experience with both federal and state courts and can help you make sure your case is filed in the right venue on time.
Our Attorneys for Boat Accidents Caused by Intoxicated Operation Can Help
Our boat accident lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. are here to help the victims of intoxicated operation boating accidents. For a free case assessment, call us today at (305) 204-5369.