Ten people were thrown overboard when an Indiana boat driver lost control of her speed boat on July 15 on Lake Gage in Indiana. Several people suffered serious injuries, including a lower arm amputation and a skull fracture.
The police allege that the driver was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. The woman allegedly was driving at an unsafe speed during a sharp turn, and caused all passengers to be thrown from the boat. The boat continued to go out of control at 30 MPH, causing more injuries to the passengers as she ran over some of them.
The passengers with the skull fracture and arm injury were flown to a local hospital. Others were taken by ambulance to other hospitals.
After the accident, the driver of the boat continued to drive around the lake out of control. Eventually, the state police were able to tangle the boat’s propeller with a rope to slow it down. They then boarded the vessel and shut off the engine.
The driver of the boat was a 20-year-old woman, and she has been charged with boating while intoxicated causing injury, and being a minor in possession of alcohol.
Did you know that almost half of boating accidents involve alcohol? This makes sense in a way. People often drive and ride their boats during recreational times when alcohol is consumed. However, there is no excuse whatsoever for boating and drinking alcohol. A boat can be just as dangerous as a car when it is driven by someone who is intoxicated.
Boaters should know that operating a boat while drunk is a federal offense. If you are convicted, you can get a $1000 fine, and criminal penalties can be up to $5000.
In most states, it is against the law to operate a boat with a BAC above .08%.
In the above boating accident, the driver could be fined at the federal level, and also be punished at the state level for drunk driving and causing serious bodily injury. The net result for her could be thousands in fines and several years in state prison.
Boating injuries that occur in what are considered navigable waterways, may fall under federal law, even if the waterway is within the confines of a state. Federal law defines very technically what is considered a Navigable waterway and it may include rivers and other open bodies of water. Our Law firm is based in Virginia and North Carolina which has rivers, lakes, bays, and of course the Atlantic Ocean. Every type of pleasure boat, yacht, skiff, jet boat, jet ski and even barges container ships, and tankers, are operating in the areas where we work as a personal injury lawyers.
An experienced personal injury attorney with dual licensure in Virginia and North Carolina, Eric Washburn received a B.B.A. in Finance from James Madison University—initially worked in the information technology field before obtaining his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. Once an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Danville, Va., Eric has been recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine as a “Rising Star” Super Lawyer in Virginia since 2014.