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Accidents Resulting from Boating Under the Influence


Nationally, fatalities caused by boaters under the influence have increased, causing needless tragedy and wreckage of families.

In one heartbreaking example, five years ago, a New York mother lost her husband — and two young children lost their father — when he was killed by a drunk boater. For five years now, she says “I live in hell.” The husband and father was 39 years old. His boat was smashed open, broken nearly in half and became a wreckage of wood and metal.

When tragedy like this strikes, not only has a crime been committed, but the victims are entitled to civil compensation. The victims need experienced boating injury litigation attorneys.

Here in Miami, as we blogged a few months back, in late September 2016, Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez killed himself and two others when he was racing his boat at top speed while drunk and high on cocaine and smashed his boat into the north jetty of Government Cut, off the shores of Miami Beach. Fernandez was only 24 years old; his two friends were, respectively, 25 and 27 yeasr old. The families of Fernandez’s two friends are now suing his estate. Each is seeking $2 million in damages for wrongful death and other civil causes of action.

Tragically, Florida leads the nation in deaths caused by intoxicated boaters. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports that, in 2016, Florida had 671 boat-related accidents, and 67 of those resulted in fatalities. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, one-third of the boating-related deaths involved alcohol or drug use. And, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, “alcohol is more hazardous on water than on land” since heat and humidity can intensify the effects of the alcohol and/or drugs.

Recovering Compensation for Injuries 

Boating under the influence of drugs or while intoxicated (“BUI”) is a crime under Florida law.

Not only is BUI is a crime, but any victims are entitled to compensation for their injuries. This applies to physical injury, death and also to property damage. This is similar to how a motorist can be sued for negligence by an injured party or survivors of someone who has been killed. There is no cap or maximum recovery; the injured party is entitled to compensation for all of their injuries and losses.

In order to prove negligence and be entitled to compensation, an injured party must generally show:

  • The boater owed a duty of care to the injured party;
  • The boater breach the duty of care; and
  • There was an injury or death.

Typically, a BUI crash meets these standards. All boaters owe a duty of care to others on the water (and on land) and owe a duty to keep careful watch. Generally, those duties are breached if the driver of the boat is drunk or high-on-drugs and then crashes the boat or causes some sort of other injury. The injured and their families are entitled to sue for civil penalties.

Contact Us Today  

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in Miami, call the office of Michael F. Guilford, P.A. today at 305-359-1999. We are eager to assist you throughout each step of your case.





  • American Association for Justice
  • Florida Justice Association
  • Bar Register Preeminent Lawyers
  • American Association for Justice

It's Your Time To Win

Contact the Law Offices of Michael F. Guilford, P.A. for a free initial consultation with Michael Guilford. Flexible appointment times are available. If you can't come to us, we will come to you. Call toll free 866-473-2636 or describe your injuries in an email.

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Michael F. Guilford, P.A.

Courthouse Tower, Suite 750
44 West Flagler St.
Miami, FL 33130

Toll Free: 866-473-2636
Phone: 305-539-1999
Fax: 305-539-1998