New Jersey Considers Tougher Laws On Negligent Boat Operators

Boating is a popular summer activity in New Jersey, but one that sadly carries risks of injury or death when operators do not exercise proper caution. New Jersey is considering legislation that would make it a crime to leave the scene of a boating accident that has caused death or serious injury to a passenger.

This action was spurred by a 2008 incident on the Metedeconk River in which 49-year-old Robert Post was killed and two other passengers severely injured when their Boston Whaler was struck by a speed boat helmed by a Brick Township resident named Anthony DiGilio. DiGilio fled the scene of the accident, claiming he thought he only hit a log or a buoy. He was ultimately cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

A new bill, S-2859, introduced in the state senate in June 2013, if passed, would make the penalties for leaving the scene of a serious boating accident akin to those that exist for motor vehicle accidents. Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident that results in death may be considered a second degree crime, and would be punishable by both:

  • Five to ten years in prison and
  • A fine of up to $150,000

Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident that causes serious injury can carry a penalty of three to five years in jail or a fine of up to $15,000. Under the proposed bill, an operator who struck another boat and left the scene would still face penalties even if he or she lacked knowledge that an injury or death had occurred.

While lawmakers attempt to crack down on negligent boat operators by imposing criminal penalties on those who leave the scene of an accident, victims of negligent boaters still have the option to pursue civil recourse for their injuries.

Posted in Personal Injury

Tagged boat operators