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The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that two women were injured in a boating accident allegedly caused by Avery Thomas – who was apparently drunk. The police report that Thomas blew a .137. The legal limit is .08. That’s more than 150% of the legal limit. Thomas is toast for this act of stupidity. Here is what the two injured women need to know:

1. Fault: Thomas appears 100% at fault. Under Alaskan law, he is responsible for your injuries, including: (a) lost wages; (2) medical bills; and (3) pain/disfigurement and suffering. Be sure to get good medical care, and keep your empty RX bottles;

2. Applicable Alaskan Tort Laws: Special legal rules usually apply to boating accidents like this – which occur on navigable waters. It’s called “Maritime Law” – and it has its share of weird quirks. Fortunately, because of our abundant coast-line, Alaska has a well-developed body of Maritime law. While our highways have “Rules of the Road” – our rivers have similar “Water Rules.”The bottom line is that Alaskan law supports holding people responsible for injuring others, particularly in situations like this;

3. Statute of Limitations: The Statute of Limitations for bringing claims for injury related to this boating accident is (likely) two years. If you fail to bring a claim within two years of when the accident occurred, you will (likely) be stripped of all your rights. This is VERY important. Take action now. Mark your calendar;

4. “Serious Crime” Laws: Alaska Statute 09.30.070 provides that you are entitled to full, actual attorney fees, in addition to compensation for your injuries – because Thomas was apparently engaged in a “serious crime” (Drunk Driving) when he hurt you. Make sure your attorney knows about this statute;

5. Insurance Issues: Check to see if Thomas and/or the boat he was driving is insured. He probably is not. If Thomas is NOT insured, file a claim against your own boat and/or automobile insurance, the “Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist” portion. It might cover your claims. Also check to see if the boat you were occupying was insured. Ask the owner (if it’s not you). Your own boat may have “Uninsured motorist” insurance that will cover your claims;

6. Hire an Attorney: I know you don’t want to, but do yourselves a favor. Hire an attorney ASAP. Maritime cases are tricky, and you need somebody who knows this area of the law. At least interview a number of actual personal injury attorneys (avoid lawyers who “sometimes handle injury cases”) – to see if you can find one you like. Believe it or not, Fairbanks has some good personal injury lawyers. We also have some to avoid.

Just don’t hire me. You can call me – and I’ll walk you through this process for free – but I will not represent you as your lawyer. The reason is because I don’t want to be accused of acting like a vulture or ambulance chaser when I write these blogs. It is important that folks understand my motive is pure. I do these blogs to help, not to make a buck off of other people’s misfortune.

In fact, I suggest that you hire Joe Paskvan. Mr. Paskvan is in Fairbanks. His phone number is: (907) 452-1205. Mr. Paskvan has absolutely no connection with my office and I get absolutely nothing for recommending him. He’s just a good personal injury lawyer. His partner, Ken Ringstad, is also very talented. Hire Joe or Ken to help you.

Or, consider calling the Alaska Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service: 800-770-9999. It’s free. If you like the web, contact the American Association for Justice (AAJ) for a free personal injury attorney referral. Finally, even though this is not an automobile-related wreck, take the time to check out for a wealth of driving tips and insurance tips that will help you avoid getting mugged on Alaska’s streets.Disclaimer: My law office built to help injured Alaskans get a grip on injury law.

I wish you both a speedy recovery. /s/ Ward Merdes

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