As boating is typically viewed as a recreational activity by many in Manhattan, a common assumption may be that participants need not adhere to the same safety standards required to operate other vehicles. Many likely would not consider getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking, yet those same people may not see an issue with consuming alcohol while driving a boat. In reality, however, those operating watercraft often need to have the same level of acuity needed when behind the wheel of a landbound vehicle. When they do not, the consequences can be catastrophic.
That was the case in a boating accident that occurred in South Carolina earlier this year. A young woman was thrown from the boat she was traveling in when it struck a bridge. Her body was recovered from the water a week later. All of those on the boat at that time of the accident were reportedly intoxicated (although no sobriety tests were administered). This fact was notable due to all of the occupants being minors. The woman’s parents have since filed a wrongful death lawsuit against multiple parties they claim to be responsible for providing the occupants with alcohol.
Dram shop and social host laws allow liability to be assigned to third parties who furnished a person with alcohol who then caused an accident. Citing these laws requires proving that the parties who provided the alcohol knew (or should have known) that those consuming it were minors or were already visibly intoxicated. Those hoping to make such a case may find that an attorney can be a valuable asset to rely on for assistance.