Have you been Charged with Serious Injury by Vessel?
Boating is a very popular recreational activity in Georgia. People like to water ski, jet ski, tube, float around, and just enjoy lake life. However, occasionally people get careless, and someone ends up getting seriously injured. Boating accidents generally happen due to a lack of attention, showing off, or recklessness but can result in broken bones, spinal cord injuries, or brain injuries. Within the last few years, boating safety has been a focus for Department of Natural Resources after numerous deaths have occurred on the lake. If you have been charged with serious injury by a vessel, contact the Law Offices of Richard Lawson and his team of Georgia Attorneys today. They have years of experience so let their experience work for you. Don't wait; contact our offices today.
Pursuant to Georgia law, O.C.G.A. §52-7-12.4 reads as follows:
A person will be found guilty of serious injury by a vessel when without malice, they cause bodily harm to another by depriving him or her of a member of his or her body, by rendering a member of his or her body useless, by seriously disfiguring his or her body or a member thereof, or by causing organic brain damage which renders the body or any member thereof useless through the violation of any of the following statutes:
- No person shall operate a personal watercraft on the waters of this state at a speed greater than idle speed within 100 feet of any moored or anchored vessel, or vessel adrift, or any wharf, dock, pier, piling, bridge structure or abutment, person in the water, or shoreline adjacent to a full-time or part-time residence, public park, public swimming area, marina, restaurant, or other public use area. O.C.G.A. §52-7-8.2(j)
- No person shall operate, navigate, steer, or drive any moving vessel, or be in actual physical control of any moving vessel, nor shall any person manipulate any moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surfboard, or similar moving device while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, toxic vapors, or the combined influence of two or more of the substances mentioned to the extent that it is less safe for the person to operate, navigate, steer, driver, manipulate, or be in actual physical control of a moving vessel, moving water skis, moving aquaplane, moving surfboard, or similar moving device. O.C.G.A. §52-7-12
- Any person who operates any vessel or manipulates any water skis, aquaplane, surfboard, tube, or similar device in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property commits the offense of reckless operation of a vessel or other water device. O.C.G.A. §52-7-12.1
- Except for lifesaving, emergency, law enforcement, or dam operation and maintenance craft, it shall be unlawful to launch, float, or operate:
- Any power boat within the boundaries of the boating safety zones defined in subsection (a) of this Code section; or
- Any vessel within the boundaries of those boating safety zones defined in subparagraphs (a)(2)(A) and (a)(2)(B) of this Code section, provided such zones are marked in accordance with the uniform waterway marking system. O.C.G.A. §52-7-13(b)
- It shall be the duty of the operator of a vessel involved in a collision, accident, or other casualty, so far as he can do without serious danger to his own vessel, crew, and passengers, to render to other persons affected by the collision, accident, or other casualty such assistance as may be practical and as may be necessary in order to save them from or minimize any danger cause by the collision, accident, or other casualty and also to give his name, address, and identification of his vessel in writing to any person injured and to the owner of any property damaged in the collision, accident, or other casualty. O.C.G.A. §52-7-14(a)
- Every vessel subject to this article if underway and upon being hailed by a designated law enforcement officer shall stop immediately and lay to or shall maneuver in such a way as to permit the officer to come aboard. O.C.G.A. §52-7-25(c)
What does this mean?
In sum, Georgia law provides that a suspect must be guilty of one of the above-mentioned offenses before they can be guilty of serious injury by a vessel. You cannot be found guilty of felony serious injury by a vessel if you are not charged or found guilty of one of these predicate offenses.
Consequences for a Serious Injury by Vessel Conviction
A person convicted of serious injury by vessel will be guilty of a felony and will face a penalty of imprisonment for a period between one and five years. A conviction of serious injury by vessel will also suspend your boating privileges for three years. You might be required to attend a boating safety class as well as an alcohol and drug evaluation if the incident involved alcohol.
How Can We Help You?
Felony charges carry substantial penalties as well as have negative implications on your life. You may have a hard time obtaining credit once you have a felony conviction and it can make finding a job difficult. The Law Offices of Richard Lawson and his team of Serious Injury by Vessel Attorneys will work with you to either get your charges reduced or work out a plea deal where you do not receive as much time in prison.
Georgia Defenses to Serious Injury by Vessel
1. Failure to Prove the Predicate Offense. If you are not guilty of one of the predicate offenses such as DUI etc., then you cannot be guilty of felony serious injury by vessel.
2. One thing your Attorney will look into if it applies to your case is what speed exactly you were going. If you can prove that you were adhering to idle speed, then you cannot be guilty of homicide by vessel in the first degree.
3. If you can demonstrate that you were not under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or toxic vapors, then your Attorney will move to have the charges reduced or dismissed because of your particular circumstances.
4. On another note, your Attorney will also look into whether or not you were actually within the boundaries of the boating safety zone.
Contact Us Today to Protect You
No one knows better than our office the seriousness of Georgia's Serious Injury by Vessel statutes. You are facing severe penalties, and we are prepared to help you fight your case. We are here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year even nights, weekends, and holidays. Contact us today for a free consultation.