Gennusa, Piacun, & Ruli

Admiralty / Maritime Law

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You have rights when a drunk boater causes you injury

Drunk driving isn't just an issue that effects large motor vehicles on the land. It can also be an issue for people who want to operate a vehicle on the open ocean. In fact, quite a few people may be under the mistaken impression that it is impossible to commit a crime when you are on a boat on the ocean.

People often hear all kinds of misinformation about how governments enforce laws on the ocean. While individual governments may not be able to take action over crimes that occur in international waters, most people who boat in Louisiana or on the Atlantic off the shore of Louisiana do so in either state or federal waters.

That means that they break the law by boating while impaired by alcohol. It also means that you may have the right to seek compensation for your injuries under either state or maritime laws.

Your options will vary depending on who is responsible for enforcement

Some places where you go boating will be subject to Louisiana state laws, which means that state enforcement agents will likely be the ones patrolling those waters and making arrests or writing citations for boaters who violate Louisiana statutes.

Other waters, especially those farther from shore, will be under the watch of federal officers, typically the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard has the authority to arrest people in boats who violate federal statutes. They can also intervene if a boater who chooses to drive while impaired causes a crash with another boat or injures somebody swimming because of their impairment.

Depending on whether you interact with Louisiana state officials or members of the Coast Guard, you will have different options for pursuing compensation after a boating accident caused by a drunk boater. In both cases, you should obtain copies of the accident report and the names of the officers involved.

Civil action is often necessary after boating accidents

When people get into car wrecks, liability insurance policies typically protect the individuals involved in the collision from property damage or medical bills. However, Louisiana does not have a state requirement for boating insurance. People can buy or rent a boat without protecting themselves or others from the liability that the boat could cause in the event of an accident or other unpredictable event.

Thankfully, when it is clear that the other driver was in violation of the law by boating under the influence, you will likely have grounds to bring civil action against them to recoup the damages you suffered. Talking with a Louisiana attorney who understands not only personal injury cases but also more complex maritime law cases can help you figure out what options you have in your specific situation.

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