Throughout the summer and nearly year-round, residents across Los Angeles
and Southern California are able to capitalize on warm weather and enjoy
a range of boating activities. While fishing, water sports, and boating
on local lakes or the open ocean can certainly be an enjoyable time, it
is important to remember that there are always risks when on the water.
These risks can be exacerbated when boaters prioritize alcohol over safety.
With thousands of miles of shoreline and inland water, California sees
a number of boating related injuries. In fact, statistics from the U.S.
Coast Guard rank the state second in the nation when it comes to boating
accidents. In 2016, there were nearly 400 recreational boat accidents
statewide, as well as close to 50 deaths and hundreds of injuries. Common
causes of these accidents included:
- Negligent boat operation
- Poor weather conditions
- Operator inattention
- Excessive speed
- Inexperienced boaters / unfamiliar conditions
While boat accidents can be caused by many factors, the data shows that
alcohol is a leading cause of injuries and deaths in boating wrecks. In
California, over a third of all boating accidents involve an operator
who is under the influence of alcohol.
Just as operating a motor vehicle is considered a negligent and dangerous
act that places others at risk of suffering preventable harm, boating
under the influence is also cause for concern. Fortunately, there are
laws in place that ensure drunk boaters are held accountable for their
misconduct and liable for any injuries or deaths they cause. Here are
a few things you should know as a victim:
Drunk boating is a crime – Boating under the influence (BUI) is a criminal offense in the
state of California. This means that individuals who operate a vessel
with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or .08 or higher can be charged
with a crime and exposed to serious criminal penalties, including fines
and potential terms of imprisonment.
Victims have rights – While boaters can face criminal penalties for operating a boat
while intoxicated, these criminal cases do not provide victims with the
compensation they need to cover their damages, including medical expenses,
lost wages, and pain and suffering incurred as a result of an alcohol-related
boat accident. To recover financial compensation victims must exercise
their right to pursue civil legal action through
personal injury or
wrongful death claims.
Civil liability – When pursuing personal injury or wrongful death claims, victims
and families have an opportunity to hold drunk boaters liable for damages
they suffered. In order to effectively establish liability, victims must
prove negligent and intoxicated boaters more likely than not caused harm
as a result of their intoxication. This can be difficult, especially when
insurance companies work aggressively to dispute claims from victims and
pay as little as possible. As such, working with proven lawyers can provide
victims with the experience, resources, and representation needed to create
a successful case.
Our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at Biren Law Group have experience
representing victims harmed by negligence in a range of accidents, including
boat accidents. We also have experience protecting the rights of maritime
workers who have been harmed by employer negligence. If you would like
to learn more about our experience handling these cases, or wish to discuss
your potential case personally with an attorney, contact us for a FREE