Being on the water is a way of life in Austin. From the shores of Emma Long Metropolitan Park to the blue depths of Lake Travis, there’s no shortage of places to enjoy a cool dip on a hot day. Unfortunately, some people take their enjoyment too far. Boating while under the influence (BUI) of alcohol or drugs is a serious problem in Austin and statewide.
If a boater injures you or someone you love while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may be eligible for compensation through a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Contact the Austin boating accident lawyers of Loewy Law Firm today at 512-280-0800 for a free consultation, and we will review your case to determine whether you’re eligible. Don’t let a BUI accident leave you in deep water. Call Loewy Law Firm today.
The Dangers of Operating a Boat While Under the Influence
It is illegal to operate a boat under the influence nationwide. The effects of alcohol and drugs on a person using a heavy machine are well-documented, but the effects can be even more extreme for someone controlling a boat. There are several reasons for this.
Boat operators tend to have less experience handling boats than they think. Boats are seasonal craft and typically only get used a few times a year when the weather is right or during holidays, which means even a seasoned boat owner may have less than ten hours total time behind the wheel of their boat. Indeed, boater inexperience is one of the top five causes of boating accidents per the U.S. Coast Guard’s annual Recreational Boating Statistics report.
Boat owners are older. The average age for boat owners nationwide is 58 years old, which means they may not develop the skills they need to handle a boat safely as quickly as a younger person would.
Alcohol and drugs affect boaters more strongly than they do people who are not on the water. The sun, wind, spray, noise and vibration, and constant motion on a boat accelerate the effects of alcohol and drugs and may impair boaters more than they realize.
How Intoxicated Operation Causes Boat Accidents
A boat operator under the influence of alcohol or drugs may be more dangerous driving a boat than driving a car. Alcohol and drugs impair judgment, equilibrium, balance, vision, and cognitive abilities. According to the Coast Guard, a boater with a blood/alcohol content above .10 is ten times more likely to die in a boating accident than a sober person.
Being on the water increases the effects of alcohol and drugs. The fatigue caused by being in the sun and constantly adjusting to match the boat’s movement can accelerate intoxication, which affects judgment and can lead to more accidents and injuries.
Injuries Caused by Drunk or Drugged Boaters
Some possible injuries from BUI include the following:
- Traumatic Brain Injury: BUI affects balance and equilibrium, which regulate your ability to stand up and control your body’s motion. Loss of these faculties can lead to deadly falls off a rolling boat or striking your head either on the boat or the water, leading to traumatic brain injuries.
- Drowning/near-drowning: Falling into the water unexpectedly while under the influence can easily lead to drowning or near-drowning, starving your brain of oxygen and leading to brain damage.
- Hypothermia: Alcohol makes your brain believe your body temperature is higher than it is and can lead to spending more time in cold water than is safe, which can cause hypothermia.
- Spinal cord injury: Falling off of a boat while it’s traveling at high speeds can easily lead to severe spinal injuries or even paralysis.
- Carbon Monoxide poisoning: Carbon monoxide generated by a boat’s running engine can become trapped in the cockpit, belowdecks, or in the engine compartment, even if the boat is at speed. This deadly gas can kill in seconds.
Compensation for a BUI Accident
We help our clients obtain compensation for their material and immaterial losses through a personal injury claim against the responsible party’s insurance company, or in some cases, a lawsuit against the responsible party directly.
To obtain compensation for a BUI accident, we must prove negligence. We must gather enough evidence to show that the responsible party was supposed to behave in a way that didn’t harm others, didn’t behave as they should, their bad behavior led to an accident, and that accident caused your injuries. If we can prove these crucial elements, we should have a valid compensation claim.
Most valid personal injury claims are resolved with a settlement paid out by the insurance company. The settlement will bea cash amount to compensate you for your losses as long as you agree to drop your legal claim against the party responsible. If your attorney cannot negotiate a fair settlement for you, a lawsuit in Texas Civil Court may be necessary.
You may be compensated for any losses attributed to the accident. Losses with a definable dollar value are called economic damages. Some examples include:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost opportunity
Losses without a definable dollar value are called noneconomic damages. These are subjective and vary depending on the circumstances. There are several categories, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Reputational damage
How Loewy Law Firm Can Help
Since 2005, we’ve helped hundreds of injured Texans get the compensation they deserve after a negligent boating accident. Our clients choose us to represent them because of our record of success, but there’s a lot more to what we do than the total awards and settlements we’ve obtained.
We believe in giving back to the communities that make us who we are. We’ve donated more than $2 million to organizations and charities all over Austin, such as Shalom Austin, Central Texas Food Bank, and Sunshine Camps of Austin.
The service we provide extends well beyond quality legal help. We represent our clients with compassion, dedication, and tenacity. Head to our Client Reviews page to learn more.
Call Loewy Law Firm Today
If you’re drowning in medical bills after a BUI accident, call Loewy Law Firm today. We will review your case and discuss your options in a free initial consultation. The statute of limitations on personal injury suits is two years in Texas, so time is a factor. Don’t delay any longer. Call Loewy Law Firm at 512-280-0800 today.