Civil Actions Can Fill Criminal Penalty Gap for Drunken Boaters

If two state lawmakers have their way, the tragic death last year of a 12-year-old girl will result in stricter penalties for drunken boaters. The girl was killed last summer by a drunken speed boater on the Susquehanna River.

The Centre Daily Times reports that the man responsible for her death was recently sentenced to five years to 11 years in prison. That was the harshest sentence possible under the law; a sentence that wasn't nearly enough, the girl's mother argued passionately in court.

Cracking Down on Light Penalties

Rep. Mike Hanna of Lock Haven and Sen. John Wozniak of Westmont are working on legislation to make DUI infractions on waterways the same as DUI infractions on the roadways. Their bill would also increase penalties for DUIs that result in the death of children under the age of 15.

It's hoped that the bills will lower the numbers of drunk boaters, resulting in fewer boating injuries and fatalities.

Deeply Personal Costs

Eventually, almost all people who kill while driving or boating under the influence are released from prison; many of them in a relatively short time. Families of the wrongful death victims are left to cope with a wide array of deeply personal costs, as well as medical expenses, funeral costs, and in many cases, loss of income.

These survivors often find that a civil suit against the perpetrator helps provide a more appropriate measure of justice than reliance on the criminal system can offer. The person responsible for injuries or deaths can be held financially accountable, making them pay quite literally for their negligence, wrongdoing or criminal acts.

Justice for All

If you have lost a loved one in a boating crash caused by a drunken boater in the Pittsburgh or Philadelphia areas, or have had a family member seriously injured in a boating accident, contact a Pennsylvania wrongful death and personal injury attorney for an evaluation of the case. An experienced wrongful death and personal injury lawyer helps both victims and perpetrators get the justice they deserve.