Personal Injury Lawyers

“One for the Road” or “One for the Boat” –Bad Mistake! The High Cost of Boating While Under the Influence

It’s summer time and as the saying  goes, “the living is easy”. Chances are you can’t wait to get out on the lake to take your new boat or Jet Ski out for a test drive.  There’s nothing like the thrill of skimming across the open water; the warm sun on your face and wind in your hair. But suddenly, something goes wrong.  Although it seems like common sense not to drink and drive—whether it be in a car or a boat—year after year injuries and even death occur due to drunk driving—on land and on water.

Boating accidents happen in an instant with catastrophic life-changing consequences. The marine lawyers at Futerman Partners LLP have been successfully handling boating accidents for over 35 years and know the many nuances associated with Marine Liability Law. If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating accident, call us today to get the compensation you deserve under the law.

Although we commonly associate drunk driving with highways and roadway, the number of drunk driving accidents which occur on water each year is staggering. In a press release issued by the Ontario Provincial Police in July 2014 and reported on Global News (www.globalnews.ca), in a stunning 42 percent of all boating deaths investigated that summer, alcohol was a factor.

The rules are clear when it comes to drinking and boating; drinking alcohol on any type of boat is illegal. The only exception when alcohol is permitted on board is on boats with permanent cooking, sleeping and washroom facilities, and can only be consumed while the boat is docked or anchored.

Transport Canada advises “Don’t Cruise and Booze” on their website www.tc.gc.ca.  According to the Marine Transportation section on the site, weather conditions such as wind, rain, fog, bright sunlight and waves can affect the driver’s visibility and ability to safely manoeuvre a vessel.  One only needs to take a boat out on Lake Ontario on the weekend or spend a summer day in Muskoka, Halliburton Highlands or the Kawartha Lakes Region to realize just how many boats are on the lakes.  It’s not like the old days on golden pond.  You’ve got sailboats, fishing boats, yachts, power boats, personal water crafts, canoes, kayaks, windsurfers and stand-up paddle boarders.  Then there are boats towing tubes or water skiers and of course, people swimming.  Add to this the natural-occurring hazards such as islands, rocks, sand bars and stumps.  No wonder the person driving a boat must have “eyes wide open” at all times. But imagine if that driver has had a few brews to many…

“Besides the possible legal consequences, mixing alcohol and boating is far more dangerous than you may realize,” as stated on the Transport Canada website, which goes on to say,  “Fatigue, sun, wind and the motion of the boat dull your senses.  Alcohol intensifies these effects, leaving you with poorer fine motor skills (for example, hand-eye coordination) and impaired judgement. Drinking and driving (whether on land or water) is illegal and punishable under the Criminal Code. Convictions for a first offence can result in heavy punishment: penalties are no less than $600, prohibition from operating a vessel could be up to three years and imprisonment could be for life! (Source www.tc.gc.ca, Marine Transportation section).

When we are out enjoying a day of fun and sun on a boat, no one stops to think of the consequences of driving while under the influence.  By their very nature, boating accidents are often the most serious, causing injuries including catastrophic brain injury, spinal cord injuries and even loss of life.  The financial implications are also catastrophic when dealing with a survivor who may have a life time of medical costs and loss of income.

Boating accident claims are complex and require navigation by a skilled marine lawyer who is knowledgeable on the Marine Liability Act.  If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident caused by an impaired driver, or else wise, the personal injury lawyers at Futerman Partners have over 35 years of experience of successfully dealing with boating accident claims.  Call us today at 416-925-4100 for a free initial consultation to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve under the law.