Punitive Damages Are Available When Drunk Boaters Injure Others

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

Summer is a time for fun and relaxing in the sun. In Green Bay, the water is an inviting place where plenty of people converge throughout the hot months to partake in sports and recreation alike. There is a lot of boating, and a lot of drinking. Unfortunately, sometimes those two elements come together, causing drunk boating accidents that can range in damage from dents and dings to hospitalization or death.

What are punitive damages?

Punitive damages are monies awarded to a plaintiff above and beyond standard compensation such as payments to cover medical costs and pain and suffering, for example. Punitive damages are often a form of punishment the court inflicts upon a reckless party for excessive harm to the defendant 

How do drunk boating laws differ from drunk driving laws in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, anyone operating a vehicle, whether it’s on land or in the water, can be charged with drinking-related penalties. As such, parties who are injured by drunk boaters may be able to seek similar punitive damages from waterway accidents as they would on the road.

Can you recover punitive damages if you or a loved one is injured by a drunk boater who causes an accident?

Because Wisconsin courts consider an operator of any moving vehicle to be subject to drunk-driving laws, you may be able to seek punitive damages if you were involved in a boating accident that was caused by especially egregious misconduct on behalf of the drunk boater who injured you. The courts will likely evaluate three key elements when your case is presented:

· Was the conduct of the other boater deliberate?

· Did the act of the drunken boater actually disregard your rights? (This may include right to safety, health, life, property, or other rights.)

· Does the act sufficiently warrant punishment by punitive damages?

Being injured or experiencing damage from a drunk boater can be devastating. If you’ve been injured by a drunk boater in Wisconsin, you should speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Personal injury attorneys can help you evaluate your unique situation, and they may be able to help you determine potential punitive damages you could be owed.