Boat accidents caused by drunk boaters can often be catastrophic. Piloting a boat is difficult enough when you have your wits about you, but operators who take out a speed boat while under the influence put themselves, any passengers in their boat, and people in other vessels in danger. Commercial boat operators drinking on the job could also kill or injure swimmers, passengers, and others.
If you or a loved one was injured in the Miami area in a drunk boating accident, call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. today. Our Miami attorneys for boat accidents caused by drunk drivers have handled boat and ship accident cases for over 40 years, and we have the skills and experience necessary to help injured boat accident victims get compensation for their injury cases. Call us today at to set up a free legal consultation on your case or the case of a loved one who passed away in a drunk boating accident. Our number is (866) 386-1762.
Suing for a Drunk Boating Accident in Miami, FL
If you were injured in an accident involving a drunk boat operator, you could be entitled to sue them for the injuries you faced. Boating accidents are more common than in any other state in the country, and the Miami area alone often has more fatal boat accidents than anywhere in the country. About 22% of all fatal boat accidents involve drugs or alcohol, so this is a pretty significant issue in boat accident cases.
Just like with driving a car, it is illegal to boat while under the influence. The typical “legal limit” for drunk boating is .08% blood alcohol concentration – just like with cars. However, a boater who is too drunk to safely operate their vessel can still be held accountable even if their BAC is lower than that limit. Additionally, drug use can also be a huge problem for boating, and being high while operating a boat can be as dangerous or more dangerous.
In most cases, a boat operator who was under the influence can be held accountable for the accident they caused.
Proving an Injury Claim against a Drunk Boat Operator in Court in Miami
When you are injured in an accident, you can sue the at-fault party in court. This means taking the drunk boat operator to court to hold them accountable. While insurance might work to cover some injuries and damages, the damages paid through insurance might not be enough for your case, and an injury lawsuit might be the best way to vindicate your rights.
When you sue a drunk boat operator, you must prove four elements of your case to win the claim:
- The other boater owed you a duty, i.e., the duty to operate their boat under reasonable safety expectations and without violating local boating and DUI laws
- The other boater breached or violated that duty, i.e., by operating their vessel while under the effects of drugs or alcohol
- The breach of duty actually caused your accident and the injuries you faced
- Your injuries involve damages the court can compensate you for.
Evidence of Fault
Typically, evidence that the boater was intoxicated comes in the form of blood tests or observations about the boat operator. Often, the Coast Guard or other authorities will respond to reports of drunk boating and arrest the at-fault operator to test them for drugs or alcohol. You may be able to get a copy of these reports, which you can use as evidence in your civil lawsuit. Other evidence you observe, such as slurred speech, alcohol on their breath, and clumsy behavior, can also help provide evidence that the driver was drunk. If you have evidence of other boating violations or unsafe actions at the helm, this can also help prove the other boater did something wrong.
To prove causation, you must show that something else didn’t cause your injuries. For instance, if your boat had maintenance issues and would not have crashed without those problems, it might be difficult to pin the accident on the drunk boater. However, Florida law allows the jury to assign partial blame to each party, so if you were speeding or driving dangerously, the court could assign you partial fault. If you did something that might have made only a small contribution to the accident, it is likely that the court will assign most or all of the blame to the drunk boater instead.
Damages can include a wide range of costs, expenses, and intangible harms suffered in the accident. Damages for boat repairs will be a part of your case if your boat, jet ski, or other property was damaged in the accident. However, most of the case will consist of damages for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering related to the injuries. Some of these damages, like damages for physical pain or mental anguish, usually cannot be claimed in an insurance claim and must be claimed in a court case to get full compensation.
Burden of Proof
In the end, you will need to prove your case “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This is a lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard from criminal cases and is much easier for the injured party to meet.
Call Our Miami Lawyer for Boat DUI Accident Injuries
If you were involved in a drunk boating accident or a loved one was killed or injured in a DUI boating crash, call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. today. Our Miami attorney for boat accidents caused by drunk drivers can be hired to help you and your family get compensation for injuries and seek justice for the accident. Call our Miami boat accident attorneys today at (866) 386-1762 to set up a free case consultation.