Virginia Beach Boating Accident Attorney
Taking your boat out on the water or enjoying personal watercraft like jet skis on the rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways of Virginia is supposed to be a fun and exhilarating adventure. Like most recreational activities that involve water or motor vehicles, it can also be extremely dangerous.
The personal injury attorneys at Virginia Beach Injury Law recognize that reckless and negligent behaviors on the part of a boat operator or a personal watercraft operator are the cause of far too many of these kinds of accidents. We advocate for those who have suffered injuries at the hands of careless boaters and fight on their behalf for full and fair compensation.
We fully investigate all kinds of boating accidents and relentlessly seek damages for our injured boating accident victims, including money for their medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and much more.
What Do I Do if I Have Been Involved in a Boating Accident?
If you or a member of your family have recently been injured in a boating accident, the attorneys at Virginia Beach Injury Law recommend that you take the steps listed below:
- Stop and assist: If you are the operator of a boat that was involved in an accident of any magnitude in the state of Virginia, you are legally obligated to stop and provide any needed aid. You could be charged with a criminal offense, similar to a hit-and-run, should you neglect this basic post-accident procedure.
- Notify local law enforcement: Your first call should be to 911, who will send local law enforcement or sheriff’s deputies to the scene of the accident. The United States Coast Guard or Conservation Officers will also respond if called.
- Collect all available evidence: The more proof you are able to gather that supports your account of events, the more solid your personal injury claim will be later on. Use your phone’s camera to take photos and videos. Write down the names and current contact information of any eyewitnesses. Do not fix your craft or get rid of a single piece of equipment until you speak with an attorney and they have told you to do so.
- Seek medical attention: Make an appointment with your family physician as soon as you are able to do so. Boating accidents can result in traumatic brain injuries, damage to your soft tissue, as well as damage to your internal organs that might not be apparent right away.
- File a report: You will be required to submit a report in writing to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries no more than 48 hours after your accident if you were the operator of a boat that caused the critical injury or death of another person. There is a VDGIF report form specifically for boating accidents that can be found here.
- Reach out to Virginia Beach Injury: We will promptly begin investigating your claim and deal with any other issues that you might need to be addressed in the wake of a boating accident, including working with your insurance company.
What Was the Cause of My Boating Accident?
Hundreds of boating accident-related fatalities take place every year throughout the United States. This includes the waterways in the Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Hampton Roads areas. Even seemingly insignificant injuries sustained during a boating accident have the ability to turn deadly if the injured victim is nowhere near professional medical attention. In 2012, the United States Coast Guard logged 4,515 boating accidents that resulted in 651 fatalities, 3,000 serious injuries, and approximately $38 million dollars worth of property damage all caused by boating-related accidents.
Boating accidents can occur while you are enjoying a day canoeing, sailing, tubing, motorboating, water skiing, or fishing.
Our personal injury attorneys will concentrate our examination of your claim on establishing whether or not someone else’s negligence, a lack of reasonable care, is responsible for causing the injuries you sustained during your boating accident. Popular causes of boating accident-related injuries include but are not limited to:
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving is just as unsafe out on the water as it is on the highway. Due to the fact that boating often entails acting quickly in order to circumvent accidents, failure to pay full attention is particularly hazardous.
- Improper lookout: The operator of a boat is constantly on the lookout for other people, boats, or miscellaneous objects that might be in the water. If you wait until the second to avoid an accident, you might be forced to make a sudden, sharp turn, a maneuver that could cause your boat to overturn.
- Driver inexperience: People who have not been trained on the proper way to drive a boat or a personal watercraft often display errors in judgment due to a lack of experience. They make basic mistakes and break well-known navigational rules that place them and those around them in danger.
- High speeds: It is careless to drive a boat or personal watercraft at excessive speeds, particularly when the water is full of other people enjoying similar activities. When the operator of a boat is speeding, they do not have enough time to react to potential danger and avoid oncoming boats, people swimming, and miscellaneous objects. They could also leave large wakes that place other boating enthusiasts in danger.
- Drunk boating: Just like driving a car while under the influence, boating is extremely unsafe when the operator’s physical and mental capacities have been diminished by the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol also makes you dehydrated, which can negatively impact your decision-making capabilities and basic thought processes.
- Mechanical malfunction: A boat that is defective in its design or a boat that has not been kept up to a certain standard could easily cause victim injuries caused by some sort of mechanical failure. For example, a boat might run into water that is too shallow or strike a submerged rock or tree if a GPS system or depth finder is not working properly. Equipment failure can also result in those on board suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Violating the rules of navigation: Driving your boat or steering your personal watercraft into areas labeled as “no-wake zones” and failing to yield the right-of-way are some commonly-seen examples of boaters violating the rules of navigation, an action that could put other operators, their family and other passengers, and those around them in danger of being seriously injured.
- Dangerous waters: Your odds of being involved in a catastrophic boating accident increase exponentially when the waters are choppy, you are in an area with lots of debris below the water line, or is heavily trafficked.
- Overcrowded vessel: Anytime too many passengers are on board a boat, the risk of someone falling over the side or being tossed overboard during a maneuver is much greater.
In addition to all of this, the victims of boating accidents could also sustain injuries caused by the lack of appropriate safety gear like fire extinguishers and life jackets.
Possible Damages Following a Recreational Boating Accident
Every boating accident claim is unique, and the damages for which you might potentially be financially compensated depends heavily on the degree of your injuries and how they will impact the remainder of your life. Economic damages are damages that involve things with a specific economic value attached to them, like hospital bills, lost income, and destruction of personal property. Non-economic damages pertain to intangible things like pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, deformities or scarring, loss of future earning potential, loss of consortium, and the inability to participate in your favorite activities or hobbies.
As stated in Virginia Code §8.01-44.5, operators who are found to be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and who are determined to be responsible for a boating accident that caused injuries could be accountable for paying punitive damages to the injured victim.
Boating Accidents at Marinas
There are numerous marinas throughout Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Norfolk, and Newport News. Additionally, there are approximately 75 private marinas along the coastline.
Boaters may not be aware of it, but they are especially defenseless in certain unavoidable circumstances like when they are refueling. A marina could be held liable according to the laws of premises liability if dangerous conditions caused a boating accident that ended with fatalities or injuries.
The laws of product liability could also be applicable if fatalities or injuries resulted from some kind of defective equipment.
Admiralty and Maritime Law
Every day, numerous large commercial ships dock at places such as Newport News Marine Terminal, Norfolk International Terminals, APM Terminals, and Portsmouth Marine Terminal, all serving to make the Hampton Roads area of Virginia one of the most active container ports in the United States.
The Norfolk Naval Station is located in the Sewells Point region of Norfolk. It is the world’s biggest naval base. Hampton, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach are also home to thousands of boating enthusiasts. If you or a family member were recently injured while you were boating or operating a personal watercraft, you may be entitled to bring a claim of personal injury against the operator of the boat with the assistance of a personal injury attorney from the offices of Virginia Beach Injury Law.
Mariners who suffer injuries while they are out to sea are covered under a fairly complicated set of admiralty and maritime laws that are composed of various statutes and decisions based on the precedence of other cases that deal with conflicts that take place on navigable waters. In terms of its legal definition, “navigable waters” refers to any body of water that is able to be used for foreign or interstate commerce. Navigable waters may even include small creeks and other bodies of water that. Even personal watercraft accidents could potentially invoke this old federal statute.
Anytime maritime law applies to a situation, the case is heard in federal court following Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution. Even though injured seafarers can choose to file their claim with state courts in Virginia, federal law still applies and the claimant will have the option of moving their case to a federal court.
A few important terms that apply to admiralty or maritime law include but are not limited to:
- Jones Act Claims: Regardless of whether the victim was working on a tug boat, a ferry, or an oil rig, the victim is able to file a claim under the Jones Act if their injuries were the fault of another person. The Jones Act was enacted in 1915 and enables seafarers to file a claim of personal injury against any negligent crew member, employer, agent, officer, or any other person.
- Maintenance and Cure: Commercial fishermen and seamen have the right to obtain maintenance and cure from their employers in the event that they are injured. Unlike the Jones Act, their employer does not have to demonstrate negligence. Maintenance and cure is essentially the maritime equivalent of workers’ compensation.
- Unseaworthy Vessels: Maritime law places the burden of maintaining the seaworthiness of a vessel on the owner. If the motor or any piece of equipment on the vessel is faulty, the injured seaman is able to file a claim for damages according to basic maritime law.
- Third-Party Claims by Longshoremen, Stevedores, and Shipyard Workers: As stated in maritime law, workers in the maritime field who sustain injuries can also file an additional injury claim, even if they have already filed a claim for maintenance and cure, provided that certain conditions are met.
What Are My Legal Options Following a Virginia Boating Accident
A boating accident often results in critical injuries, including lacerations, broken bones, brain injuries, damage to the spinal cord, damage to the soft tissue, death by drowning, and near-drownings. Injured victims will most likely be forced to deal with huge medical bills, lost income caused by being unable to work, and endure substantial pain and suffering.
If someone else’s careless or reckless behavior is responsible for injuries suffered by you or a member of your family, you have the right to full and fair financial compensation.
If you’ve been involved in a boating accident in Virginia Beach that wasn’t your fault, contact a boating accident attorney at Virginia Beach Injury Law. Our knowledgeable boating accident attorneys at Virginia Beach Injury Law handle a variety of personal injury claims in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Newport News, Portsmouth, Hampton, Suffolk, and Chesapeake. We are ready and available to discuss the circumstances surrounding your boat injury accident to determine if you have the right to pursue a claim. Call us today. We will by your side to ensure that you receive the most compensation for your damages and injuries. Give us a call at (757) 802-4662 to explore your legal rights and start your boating accident injury claim today.
DO YOU HAVE A CASE?
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in the Virginia Beach area or Hampton Roads, contact us today to discuss if you have a case: