Mobile, Alabama Boating: Deep Legal Waters

May 31, 2024 | Allen A. Ritchie | 0 comments

Boating accidents seem to be on people’s minds around here, and summer has just started. My partner Jason Steele and I have seen an increase in calls to the office.

Here is what we see and what you need to know.

  • BWI (boating under the influence) is a real thing. We are told that state laws will be more rigorously enforced this year. So, our advice is: if you want a summer adult beverage, get it on land.
  • Yes, there are different laws depending on the body of water you are on. This really comes into play when you or someone else gets hurt.

As to the different laws, they are admiralty law and Alabama common law. Here are two examples of how they differ:

  • How long do you have to file a lawsuit?

Admiralty law – 3 years

Alabama law – 2 years

  • Can I collect if I am even a little bit at fault?

Admiralty law – yes, reduced by your percentage of blame.

Alabama Law – no, you collect nothing.

If a death occurs, the two sets of laws can also affect what the surviving family can collect. Put this together, and you see why boaters in our state need a lawyer when trouble happens.

If you are involved in a boating accident, here are some things you need to do no matter where the accident happens.

  • Get medical attention. This should not surprise you, but legally, a medical professional must prove that you were injured. Your uncle saying that your back was never the same after that other boat hit you is not enough.
  • Get photos. If you can, pull out that phone and snap away. You would be amazed at how quickly evidence disappears, especially on the water. Also, get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
  • Report the accident.

A written accident report must be submitted to the Alabama Marine Police Division within 10 days if:

  • A person is killed or disappears from the boat.
  • A person is injured and is incapacitated for more than 72 hours.
  • Damage to the boat(s) or property totals over $2,000.

If you need more information about reporting a boating accident, I suggest you contact the local sheriff’s office. The employees there can direct you.

My friends here in West Mobile love to go to the water, and I love to go with them. My advice is to grab a life preserver and head on out… the water is fine.

If you are injured in a traffic accident, on-the-job injury, nursing home neglect incident, slip-and-fall, boating accident, or other personal injury, you can talk to us at the law firm of Steele Ritchie for free. We genuinely want to help. We are local attorneys with decades of experience helping people, especially in the southwest Mobile area. Give us a call at (251) 666-1212.

Allen Ritchie

Alabama Personal Injury Lawyer