With its hot temperatures and blue ocean water, Florida is an ideal place for boaters. Boasting over one million registered boats in the state, Florida has taken the title of “boating capital of the world.” As with all other motor vehicles, however, boating accidents occur and are more likely to happen when boat operators are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Boating under the influence can lead to life-changing injuries for victims. If you are a victim of a BUI incident, our skilled Florida boating accident attorneys are here to help. Receiving a financial settlement for your injuries and losses can make a major difference in your recovery and your future.
Florida BUI laws
In Florida, just as driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal, so is boating under the influence (BUI). Florida Statute 327.35 establishes a person as BUI when they operate a boat
- While under the influence of alcoholic beverages or a chemical substance that impairs their “normal faculties.”
- With a blood-alcohol level of .08% or higher
- With a breath-alcohol concentration of .08% or higher
These rules are stricter for operators under 21 years of age, who are considered BUI with a breath alcohol level of .02%
In 2022, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported 641 BUI violations. BUI incidents bring criminal charges to boat operators and if convicted, criminal penalties.
While these penalties are essential for supporting justice and acting as a deterrent for BUI, they do not compensate victims for the expenses and losses they suffer from a BUI accident. To secure compensation, partner with a boating accident lawyer who will file a personal injury claim to hold the one responsible for your injuries financially accountable.
Legal options for victims of BUI Florida accidents
When you contact Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath after being injured in a BUI accident, an experienced boating accident attorney will review your case during a free consultation and present you with your options.
To collect a settlement, you must prove the boat operator’s impairment caused the accident leading to your injuries. Your attorney will investigate the accident extensively, getting input from boating experts, accident reconstructionists, witnesses, and any other resource that helps prove the boat operator’s negligence.
By partnering with an attorney promptly after your accident, you ensure your attorney has time to evaluate your case, collect evidence, and file your injury claim well within Florida’s statute of limitations.
Collecting compensation after a Florida BUI accident
In personal injury accidents, victims typically collect compensation from the insurance company representing the at-fault party. For example, if you slipped and fell on a business owner’s unsafe property and proved the property owner’s negligence, you would collect from the business owner’s property insurance.
If Florida requires boaters to have boating insurance, it would make sense for you to collect a settlement from that insurance following a BUI. While Florida has regulations for boat registrations and operators, it does not mandate boat owners to purchase boating insurance, which makes filing an injury claim more complicated.
Fortunately, your experienced Florida BUI accident attorney will know how to pursue other sources of compensation, such as the at-fault party’s homeowner’s insurance.
How a Florida BUI accident settlement helps victims
BUI accidents create serious damage. As a victim, you might sustain broken bones, burns, damage to internal organs, brain or head trauma, spinal cord, or other catastrophic injuries. These accidents can quickly turn deadly, especially if an injured person is thrown overboard.
A knowledgeable boating accident lawyer is in the best position to assess the financial value of your accident-related losses. When demanding a settlement, your attorney will seek coverage for your:
- Medical bills and future medical needs
- Wages lost during recovery
- Lost future wages if injuries preclude you from working again
- Physical and emotional pain
- Scarring or other disfigurement
- Reduced quality of life
- Any other accident-related expenses
Your attorney will handle all settlement negotiations with the involved insurance companies. Insurance companies are not on your side and, if you speak with them, will use intimidation or other coercive tactics to convince you to accept a settlement far lower than what you deserve. Rather than risk falling for these tactics, leave those conversations to your attorney.
Reckless boaters must be held accountable
Boat operators owe it to every other person on the water to take great care when navigating their vehicles. Boating under the influence is illegal because it puts all other boaters, jet skiers, kayakers, and swimmers at tremendous risk for injury or death. The criminal court can hold BUI offenders criminally responsible, but victims can only have the costs of their personal injuries compensated through civil action.
If you are a BUI accident victim, get the compensation and justice you deserve. Call (561) 655-1990 or visit our contact page to partner with an experienced and compassionate boating accident lawyer who will fight for your rights.