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Boating Under the Influence: Yes, You Can Get a DUI at Sea

Nothing beats taking your boat on the water with your friends and family to relax, especially on holidays. The last thing on your mind is the possibility of getting charged with boating under the influence or BUI – until law enforcement pulls up to your boat and determines that you were boating under the influence of alcohol. Accident statistics show that the Fourth of July is the most dangerous weekend for recreational boaters, who are more likely to be drinking while boating on holiday. In 2019, California marine law enforcement increased their patrols and BUI checkpoints, joining a nationwide effort called Operation Dry Water (ODW). In the five years prior, BUIs contributed to over 30% of boating fatalities in California and led the cause of fatal boating accidents nationwide. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s recreational boating statistics in 2020: 5,265 boating accidents were recorded with 767 deaths and 3,191 injuries. Recreational boating accidents caused $62.5 million in property damage. The boating accident fatality rate increased by 25% compared to 2019. Compared to the year before, boating accidents increased by 26.3%, total deaths increased by 25.1%, and total injuries increased by 24.7%. Because of the dangers of boating while intoxicated, California law forbids operating a boat or watercraft with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.08%. This is the same BAC limit used to determine driving under the influence (DUI) on land. If you get a BUI you could face up to 6 months in jail or $1,000 in fines, in addition to getting your boat impounded. BUI laws under California’s Harbors & Navigation Code 655(b) apply to vessels of all lengths, including open motorboats, cabin motorboats, personal watercraft, motorized sailboats, water skis, jet skis, dinghies, aquaplanes, and pontoons. Non-motorized, self-propelled vessels like kayaks and canoes are exempt unless they have trolling motors attached. But getting arrested for BUI doesn’t mean you’ll get convicted – especially if you have strong legal representation to defend you. Taking the right steps after a BUI arrest can help you keep your driver’s license and avoid penalties like jail time or fines. What Happens If You Get a BUI or BWI in California? A BUI charge is similar to DUI in some ways and different in others. Like DUI, the BAC limit is 0.08% for private boating and 0.04% for operating commercial vessels. BUI applies not just to the influence of alcohol but to drugs as well, including cannabis intoxication. You cannot refuse a breathalyzer or urine test if authorities have probable cause to suspect you of BUI or DUI. In contrast, “open container laws” forbid you from having open alcohol containers inside your car. However, these laws do not apply to boats, where open alcohol containers are allowed. When it comes to DUI and BUI, California law enforcement officials need probable cause to stop your car or boat. If authorities become suspicious of your behavior, they can approach your boat, conduct a sobriety check, and ask you to take a mandatory chemical test. If your BAC registers above 0.08%, you can be arrested and charged with BUI. Can You Lose Your Driver’s License If You Get Charged With BUI? Unfortunately, yes. California assumes that someone who operates a boat under the influence will use the same judgment when driving a car. As a result, the California DMV will begin the process of suspending your driver’s license immediately after you get charged with a BUI. The only way to stop your license from being suspended is to request a hearing within 10 days. That’s not a lot of time. Losing your driver’s license could have a rippling effect on your life, especially if you rely on your car to get to work or take your children to school. The best way to avoid losing your driver’s license after a BUI in California is to talk to a maritime lawyer about your case. A BUI attorney can handle the hearing by getting a stay on your license suspension until you’re actually convicted. Then your lawyer can fight to keep you from getting convicted at all, so you can avoid any BUI penalties. What Are the Penalties for Boating Under the Influence? Similar to a DUI, the penalties for BUI depend in part on your record. When assessing penalties in a BUI, California courts look at whether you received any DUIs within the last 10 years. That includes driving any vehicle under the influence – cars or boats. A first offense for boating under the influence could lead to penalties like: Having your driver’s license suspended for 4 months or more Spending up to 6 months in jail or 3-5 years on probation Paying up to $1,000 in fines, plus additional costs Enrolling in DUI school for 3 months or longer BUI penalties get more severe if a boating accident causes someone to get hurt or lose their life. You also face much greater consequences if you’re on a second or third DUI charge. How Can You Avoid a BUI Charge in California? A BUI arrest doesn’t mean you’ll be convicted. If you’ve been charged with BUI, a maritime lawyer can help you beat the charges or get your penalties seriously reduced. You can fight a BUI charge by challenging: The fact that you were actually intoxicated or not Whether law enforcement had reasonable cause to stop your boat The validity of the breathalyzer, urine, or blood tests you took Any procedural mistakes the officers made during your arrest Special “field sobriety tests” for boaters that even sober people can fail A law enforcement officer may have arrested you for “looking drunk” when you were sunburned, dehydrated, or fatigued from the elements. You may have been targeted because of your age, race, or loud music coming from your boat. Your attorney can argue that your behavior was not unusual or suspicious enough to qualify as probable cause to be stopped. If you’ve been involved in a BUI arrest or boating accident as a result of a BUI, the experienced and knowledgeable maritime legal team at Wilshire Law Firm can help. Call us 24/7 at (800) 501-3011 or use our online form now for your FREE consultation.

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Slip and Fall At Sea: Cruise Ship Injuries 101

What Happens If You Get Injured on a Cruise Ship? The last thing you want to happen on vacation is to get injured. Cruise ships are supposed to be safe for vacationers of all ages, but passenger injuries often keep the medical staff busy. With cruise ships constantly providing new and extreme attractions and entertainment, passengers face numerous dangers aboard. Plus, cruise lines often allow their passengers to overindulge in alcohol. In some cases, accidents and injuries happen out on the open ocean. In a worst-case scenario, an injured passenger may be unable to get the proper treatment they need because of the remote location of the cruise ship. An even greater danger lies in falling overboard. Because cruise ships often operate in international waters, accurate passenger injury information is hard to come by. But overboard accidents and deaths are common. So, what happens if you get hurt on a cruise ship? What if negligent operation by the cruise line is to blame for your injuries? Who do you hold responsible and how? A personal injury lawyer who handles maritime cases can help you investigate and prove the cause of your injury. A personal injury lawsuit can get you compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. If you’ve lost a loved one on a cruise ship, you may have a claim for wrongful death. Most Common Cruise Ship Passenger Accidents Millions of passengers sail on cruise ships every year. One study followed a cruise ship carrying over 700 passengers and reported 663 injuries over 3 years, with victims ranging from 1-97 years old. Slips and fall incidents caused 45% of injuries aboard and 69% of accidents on land. The most common injuries from slips and falls involved open wounds. Additionally, over 300 people have fallen overboard from cruise ships between 2000 and 2018. Hazards on a cruise ship can result from:       Slippery surfaces onboard or on the gangway       Unsafe conditions on deck such as pool overflow or insufficient lighting       Poorly designed architectural features on the ship       A lack of lifeguard staff or no lifeguard on duty       Poorly maintained elevators, escalators, and handrails       Excursions like parasailing, diving, snorkeling, or ziplining       Failing to take safety precautions in rough weather       Fires onboard the ship or in cramped cabins       Cruise ship crew misconduct or negligence       Poorly maintained decks, floors, or amenities       Improper sanitation and hygiene by the crew       Medical malpractice on board Most cruise ships have medical staff and facilities on board. However, even with state-of-the-art amenities, a cruise ship infirmary is no replacement for the treatment and care you can get at a hospital. This can cause complications if you’re far from land. Getting hurt can mean thousands of dollars in medical bills or years of treatment to recover. If your injury was caused by someone else – such as the cruise liner’s negligent operating protocols or poor hiring practices without background checks – whoever is responsible should also pay for the harm they’ve caused. Injuries on cruise liners can result from and include: Slips, trips, and falls, whether onboard or while docking Water-borne illness from unsafe pool and drinking water Falling overboard, swimming pool accidents, and drownings Elevator, escalator, and handrail accidents Dinghy, tender boat, and automatic door accidents Accidents while participating in recreational activities Spinal injuries, back injuries, and broken bones poorly maintained facilities Traumatic brain injury or organ damage Assaults by crewmembers or other passengers Can You Sue a Cruise Ship for Falls or Injuries? Even if your accident or injury happens in international waters or a foreign country, you could have a legitimate claim for suing a cruise line operator. However, cruise ship lawsuits are unique since incidents often happen outside of U.S. soil. Which law applies then? If you’ve suffered an injury, you must act quickly. Cruise ship injury claims have a short statute of limitations – often no more than a year and sometimes even less. That means you have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit against a cruise ship company before you lose the chance forever. Where you file your lawsuit depends on: How maritime law applies to the facts of your case The departure and destination ports of the cruise Where the cruise line or operator is incorporated The language of the cruise ticket you bought Any international treaties that apply For example, Holland America, Seabourn Cruise Lines, and Winstar Cruise Lines have a choice of jurisdiction clause included in the terms of passenger tickets. According to their terms, you must file your lawsuit in Seattle, Washington by a lawyer admitted to practice in that federal circuit court. Many other cruise lines have similar conditions in other locations. International treaties like the Athens Convention can limit cruise ship liability. However, the Athens Convention does not apply to any cruise voyages to or from a U.S. port. What Damages Can You Get in a Cruise Ship Lawsuit? A cruise ship injury lawsuit allows you to get compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. The law “makes you whole” by covering any medical costs or income lost because of your injury. When you file a maritime lawsuit against a cruise ship company, you can get damages for: Your current and future medical bills The cost of long-term rehabilitation or care Wages you lost because you were unable to work A loss of earning capacity because of permanent disability Emotional distress, physical pain, and mental suffering If you’ve lost a loved one as a result of a ship accident, you could have a claim for wrongful death. While nothing can undo the tragedy of losing a family member, a lawsuit can help cover the emotional pain as well as the future income your family has lost as a result. If you’ve been injured in a cruise ship accident, you should talk to a maritime lawyer about your case. The maritime attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm have helped victims of cruise ship accidents across the United States and even internationally. Our maritime lawyers work on a contingency fee basis which means you don’t pay unless we win your case. Call our offices 24/7 for a FREE consultation of your case at (800) 501-3011 or use our online form now.

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What To Do After a Lyft or Uber Accident

With the economy opening up again, more people are starting to rely on rideshare services like Uber and Lyft to get around town. But more rides inevitably lead to more accidents. Whether you’re a rideshare driver or Uber/Lyft passenger, a crash on the way to your destination is a nightmare come true. Especially if the rideshare company refuses to take responsibility for the accident. Rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber have been shown to decrease incidents of DUI up to 20% since their introduction in cities across the United States. But rideshare services are also associated with a 3% increase in car accident fatalities on the road. According to a study: The increase in Uber and Lyft cars on the road contributes to nearly 1,000 more traffic accident deaths per day across the country Between 2017 and 2018, Uber recorded 97 fatal crashes with 107 total deaths 21% of rideshare crash victims were passengers, another 21% of victims were drivers, while the remaining 58% of victims were other motorists or pedestrians Rideshare apps are directly linked to more crashes, injuries, and fatalities for everyone on the road because of the increase in traffic More rideshare drivers mean more cars on the road. That leads to greater congestion and ultimately to more fatal traffic accidents involving drivers, passengers, bicyclists, or pedestrians. You could become involved in a Lyft or Uber crash as: A rideshare driver either while you’re on a ride or between rides A rideshare passenger on a ride in a Lyft or Uber Another driver, pedestrian, cyclist, or motorist Rideshare accidents can be extremely dangerous because many injuries, such as head injuries and traumatic brain injuries, are often latent. This means you may not realize you have a serious injury unless you get checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible. If you get in a Lyft or Uber accident on the road, call a rideshare accident lawyer immediately about your case. At Wilshire Law Firm, our rideshare crash attorneys fight big corporations and their insurance companies to get you the highest possible settlement for your injuries. Call us anytime 24/7 at (800) 501-3011 or reach out to us online you would like to discuss your case. Who Is Liable If Your Lyft or Uber Driver Gets In an Accident? One of the most important parts of a rideshare accident case is establishing who is at fault. The person responsible for the crash becomes liable for the injuries and harm suffered by anyone else involved. Legally, they may be required to compensate others for their losses. Your Lyft or Uber accidents could be caused by: Your rideshare driver operating long hours, driving while drunk, or driving distracted Your rideshare driver speeding or running stop lights to finish rides faster Your rideshare driver negligently failing to obey street signs and traffic laws Your rideshare driver parking somewhere dangerous to pick you up or drop you off A design or manufacturing defect in the car itself Improper maintenance of the rideshare car Rowdy passengers who distract the driver or cause dangerous conditions Another motorist on the road driving recklessly or under the influence Dangerous weather or road conditions that affect traffic Determining the cause of a Lyft or Uber crash may not be as easy as you think, especially with so many factors at play. Not only that, but you also need strong evidence to back up your claims. What Happens if You Get In an Accident With Lyft or Uber? Even if you walk away from your rideshare accident feeling “fine,” you should get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible to start documenting any injuries you might have. Medical treatment is expensive. Serious injuries from traffic accidents involving rideshare companies could cause you major health problems, especially if left untreated. In some cases, you may even need lifelong medical or care or treatment. Who will pay for all of that? If a rideshare company is responsible for your injuries, they should compensate you for the cost of your treatment. But for companies like Lyft and Uber, the most important thing is the bottom line. They’d rather pay the least amount they can get away with in order to protect their profits. That could mean leaving rideshare passengers or drivers with the bill. Remember that rideshare companies and their insurance companies are not on your side. The first thing you should do after a rideshare accident is to talk to a lawyer who can help. Do not talk to the rideshare company or their insurance company until you’ve spoken to a lawyer first. Any statements you make could be used against you to deny your claims. After a rideshare crash, your case goes into the evidence-gathering phase. Your lawyer can help you collect the evidence you need to prove who is at fault and get compensation for your injuries. The stronger your evidence, the better you can maximize your settlement. Does Uber or Lyft Compensate for Accidents? Generally, rideshare apps require their drivers to have car accident liability coverage. In addition, Uber and Lyft carry their own third-party liability insurance to cover any personal injuries or property damage beyond what the driver’s insurance may cover. The amount of compensation you could get in a Lyft or Uber settlement depends on: The severity of your injuries and the medical treatment you need How much your injuries have affected your daily life Whether your injuries made you unable to work Any pain or suffering you experience because of your injury A settlement after a rideshare accident could cover: Your medical bills, both present and future Any wages you’ve lost because of your injuries The cost of any long-term treatment or care you might need The more severe your injuries, the greater compensation you can expect. After an Uber or Lyft accident, the rideshare company or their insurance may reach out with a low settlement offer soon after your accident, hoping you’ll take whatever you can get. A lawyer can help you decide whether a settlement offer is worth taking – or if you should fight for more. Call the rideshare lawyers at the Wilshire Law Firm for your FREE consultation at any time of day or night at (800) 501-3011 or use our online form now.

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Can You Sue if You Get Hurt In a Swimming Pool?

A dip in a pool can be irresistible on a hot day — but pools come with natural risks. Whether you’re at a hotel pool, residential pool, or public swimming pool, you expect a certain level of maintenance and care to keep the pool and its surrounding areas safe. If the pool owner fails to take the proper precautions, an ordinary pool could become a site of injury or tragedy. In the summer of 2019 alone, over 150 children younger than 15 drowned in swimming pools or spas. A third (33%) of child drownings are reported to happen during family gatherings near pools. However, parents and child caretakers can only be so vigilant if improper maintenance makes a pool unexpectedly dangerous. The dangers don’t just apply to children. Up to 4,000 people drown in the U.S. every year on average. For every drowning victim, an estimated 5-10 people need hospital care for nonfatal injuries related to drowning – including traumatic brain injuries from a lack of oxygen. Wet, hard surfaces around pools can also pose a risk for catastrophic slip and fall accidents. If you or your child were hurt at a swimming pool, extensive medical treatment may be needed for recovery. Or you may have lost a loved one to a swimming pool accident. In situations like these, it’s important to hold the person responsible for the injuries accountable. How should you move forward? The first step you should take is to talk to a personal injury lawyer about your case. You may have legal claims for negligence, premises liability, or wrongful death. You may be owed thousands or even millions of dollars in damages to compensate you for your losses. The personal injury lawyers at the Wilshire Law Firm can help. Call us 24/7 at (800) 501-3011 or use our online contact form now to get your FREE consultation. Who Is Liable If Someone Gets Hurt in a Pool? Determining liability (fault or responsibility) for an accident is one of the most important steps in putting together a successful personal injury case. Every case is different, which makes each case fact-specific. Your personal injury lawyer can help investigate the facts of your case and gather the evidence you need to prove your claims. Depending on where and how an injury happened, you could file a lawsuit against: The owner of a private or residential swimming pool The owner of a commercial swimming pool that is open to guests, such as at a hotel, motel, spa, health club, gym, or campground The government entity that owns the public, municipal, or school pool The person or business in possession of the pool at the time of the accident The manufacturer, designer, or distributor of a defective pool component or part In order to win your case, you must prove with evidence that: The pool owner or operator had a duty of reasonable care to you, The pool owner or operator failed to live up to their duty of care (either through negligence, recklessness, or even intentional or knowing conduct), and That failure was a direct cause of you suffering actual harm or injury. In some cases, even trespassers are covered under liability rules because pools are often considered an “attractive nuisance” under the law. That means strangers, especially minors or children, could be tempted to trespass to use the pool even without permission. Most states require owners to maintain secure fencing around their pools to keep children out. The degree of liability in your case will depend on the laws and regulations in your state and locality. Reasons for Suing a Public or Private Pool Owner or Operator Depending on the facts of your case, you may have multiple legal claims against the party or parties responsible for your swimming pool injury or the loss of a loved one. Below are a few common examples of negligence that can be grounds for a lawsuit: Inadequate supervision – Proper supervision can help prevent tragedy. A homeowner may be responsible for any injuries suffered by guests in their pool because of a lack of supervision. This is especially true if the pool owner was supposed to be supervising children. Private businesses with pools have an even greater duty to protect their guests. Not enough lifeguards on duty – Some states and localities require commercial pools operating above a certain number of guests to have a minimum number of lifeguards on duty at all times. Such a pool must also make sure its lifeguards are properly trained. Improper signage or lack of warning signs – Pool owners must generally warn users of possible dangers from using the pool. That includes posting water depth as well as “swim at your own risk” signs if there are no lifeguards. Improper pool maintenance – Pool owners can be held responsible for failing to keep their property maintained in a safe condition. Murky waters, clogged drains, debris, or broken stairs or handlebars could pose additional dangers to swimmers. Lack of proper fencing – Many states have strict requirements for swimming pool owners to install secure, locked fencing to keep out children and trespassers. Violations of pool laws or ordinances – Swimming pools can be dangerous if they’re built in a way that violates federal, state, or local laws or ordinances. Defective components or parts – You could have a legal claim against pool component manufacturers if a defect causes the pool to become unsafe. For example, a step-ladder to get out of the pool may not be made of strong enough material and collapse. The best course of action after a swimming pool injury is to seek a legal consultation about your options. A lawsuit based on personal injury, premises liability, or wrongful death can get you compensation for your losses as a result of a swimming pool injury or death. Any damages you get from a settlement or court judgment could cover: The cost of current and future medical treatments, Lost wages or income as a result of the victim being unable to work, Pain, suffering, or emotional distress Long-term disability or supportive care To maximize the amount of compensation you’re able to recover for your case, call the nationally recognized lawyers at the Wilshire Law Firm at (800) 501-3011 or use our online contact form. We work on a contingency-fee basis, which means you don’t pay us any legal fees unless we win your case. Our team is ready to fight for you and your family!

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