Boating Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
Boating under the influence is a very serious act that can result in devastating or even fatal results for victims of the ensuing accidents. Florida treats boating under the influence as a serious crime. This is largely due to the fact that Florida has the highest rate of boating-related fatalities in the country. Reports have suggested that as many as one-third of fatal boating crashes involve boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you have been injured as a result of a boater’s intoxicated operation of their vessel, you can bring a civil claim against them to recover compensation for your injuries. At Donaldson & Weston, our Stuart BUI accident lawyers have provided legal counsel to victims throughout Martin and St. Lucie Counties. We understand how traumatic this situation is for a victim and their family, and we will fight vigorously to assert your right to compensation.Florida Laws Against Boating Under the Influence
Florida law makes it a crime to operate a boat or another water vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The term vessel is defined broadly to include any watercraft, airboat, seaplane, or vehicle that can be used as transportation on water. This strict approach to boating under the influence is justified, considering 15 percent of fatal boating accidents in Florida occur because of intoxicated boating. Many of these accidents happen close to the coastline, where there is often heavy traffic on the waterway or objects that boaters must be careful to avoid, such as piers and jetties. If you have been injured as a result of an intoxicated boater’s conduct, you can bring a personal injury case against them to pursue compensation for your injuries.
The first step in establishing your right to compensation is to show that the defendant owed you a duty of care. When it comes to operating a watercraft, Florida law requires all operators to use the same level of reasonable care and skill that a prudent boater would use when faced with a similar situation. Since a prudent boater would obey all boating laws and regulations while operating their vessel, any evidence showing that the defendant was operating a boat while intoxicated probably would indicate that the defendant was negligent at the time of the accident. One way to establish that the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the accident is to obtain a copy of any police report that was prepared, recording the defendant’s intoxication. A Stuart BUI accident attorney can assist you with this step.
The next phase of a negligence lawsuit requires the plaintiff to prove that there was a causal connection between the defendant’s intoxication and the injuries that they sustained. In other words, you must show that you probably would not have been injured but for the defendant’s intoxication. One of the most common ways that defendants try to disprove causation is by introducing evidence of the plaintiff’s negligence at the time of the crash. Florida has adopted the pure comparative fault standard. This rule allows the jury to consider evidence suggesting that the plaintiff was negligent and to assign a percentage of fault to the plaintiff. Any judgment in the plaintiff’s favor will then be diminished by this percentage. As a result, it is critical to understand whether the defendant may be preparing to produce any evidence suggesting negligence on your part.
The final stage of the proceedings involves determining the amount of compensation that the plaintiff is entitled to receive. There are several categories of recoverable items that may be available in a negligence lawsuit, including medical bills, lost wages, and future expectation damages associated with any serious or permanent disabilities resulting from the crash. You may also be able to seek punitive damages, which is a separate category of damages designed to punish defendants who engage in willful, wanton, and reckless conduct, such as driving while intoxicated beyond the legal limit.Contact a Compassionate BUI Accident Lawyer in the Stuart Area
Suffering an injury on the water as a result of a careless boater’s actions is a stressful and unexpected disruption to your life, regardless of how minor your injuries may be. At Donaldson & Weston, we understand what you are going through because we have counseled many boating accident victims in Port St. Lucie, Stuart, Jupiter, and elsewhere in St. Lucie and Martin Counties. Our dedicated team of legal professionals can help you understand the scope of your legal rights and whether you may be entitled to financial compensation. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at 772-266-5555 or contact us online. We also guide victims who have been injured by a distracted or speeding boater.