Boat Accident Lawyer in Virginia
Virginia has a long coastline and many waterways, making boating a popular pastime for many locals and visitors. As a result, boating accidents are, unfortunately, quite common in the Commonwealth. Factors such as alcohol use, operator inattention, and lack of proper safety equipment can contribute to boating accidents, which often result in serious injuries or fatalities. Always exercise caution when operating a boat and follow all safety regulations as a passenger. Unfortunately, even if you exercise proper caution, carelessness on the part of others could still result in an injury accident.
Attorneys Mike Deering and Chris Todd Hedrick are here to help if you were injured in a Virginia boat accident. Deering and Hedrick have decades of legal experience and know how to help you recover fair compensation for your injuries. We have a proven track record of success for our clients and will make the legal process as simple as possible for you. You do not need to worry about paying for our services, as we do not charge any fees unless you collect compensation. Call us today or visit our contact page for a case review. Call our firm at (757) 383-6848 or contact us online for a consultation.
Virginia Beach Boat Accident Statistics
According the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 89 recreational boating accidents in Virginia during one recent year. These boat accidents led to 47 injuries and 18 deaths, along with more than $635,000 in property damage. By comparison, the Coast Guard reported there were 138 boat accidents in Maryland that same year, which led to 70 injuries and six deaths. North Carolina reported 171 boat accidents that year, which caused 91 injuries and 20 deaths.
Common Causes of Boat Accidents
Some of the most common causes of boat accidents in Virginia include:
- Alcohol use – Alcohol is a leading factor in boating accidents and deaths. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance, and coordination, making it difficult to operate a boat safely.
- Operator inattention -Distracted or inattentive boaters may not see other boats, obstacles, or swimmers in the water, increasing the risk of collision.
- Lack of proper maintenance – Like any vehicle, boats need regular maintenance to stay in good working order. A lack of proper maintenance could lead to rust on a boat’s hull or issues with mechanical components. In some cases, boats may develop leaks if they are not properly maintained.
- Lack of safety equipment – Seemingly minor issues can become disasters if a boat does not have proper safety gear. Emergency radios, signal flares, life jackets, and other safety equipment are all essential to preventing people from being stranded on the water.
- Inexperienced operators – Handling a boat takes training and practice. Inexperienced boaters may not have the knowledge and skill to handle a boat safely, especially in challenging conditions.
- Weather and other adverse conditions – Rough waters, high winds, and other adverse weather conditions can make it difficult to operate a boat safely.
Who Could Be Liable for a Boat Accident?
Determining liability for a boat accident can be difficult without a lawyer’s help, but the potentially liable parties include:
- The boat operator
- Negligent passengers
- The company that made the boat
- A company that designed, manufactured, or sold a defective boat part
- Dock workers
An experienced boat accident lawyer could determine which party or parties were liable for a boat accident by analyzing the actions of the boat operators, the condition of the boats and equipment, and the applicable laws and regulations. They could also gather evidence such as witness statements, accident reports, and photographs. Your attorney might also use experts such as accident reconstruction specialists to help determine the cause of the accident to figure out who might be liable.
Common Injuries Suffered in Boat Accidents
Some of the most commonly reported boating accident injuries in the Commonwealth include:
- Head injuries – A person could injure their head by falling or being thrown from a boat or hitting an object on the boat or in the water. Head injuries can range from minor bumps to more severe injuries, such as skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries.
- Drowning – Boat operators or passengers thrown into the water could drown if they cannot swim to safety or get back into the boat. Drowning can occur quickly, especially if the person is not wearing a life jacket.
- Broken bones and fractures -A person could break or fracture a bone if thrown from the boat or strike a surface inside. Common breaks and fractures include broken arms, legs, and ribs.
- Internal injuries – Victims of boating accidents could suffer internal injuries like punctured lungs, lacerated organs, and internal bleeding.
- Hypothermia – A boat crash can result in occupants falling into cold water, which can cause hypothermia. Hypothermia is a dangerous condition that can occur even in warm water and lead to unconsciousness and death.
- Soft tissue injuries – Those involved in boat accidents could suffer sprains, strains, and contusions. These injuries can be caused by falling, hitting an object, or being thrown from the boat.
What Type of Compensation Could I Seek After a Boat Accident?
If you have been injured in a boating accident, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries and other losses. The types of compensation that may be available to you include:
- Current and future medical expenses – You may be able to seek reimbursement for any medical expenses you incurred as a result of the accident, including hospital bills, doctor’s visits, and medication costs.
- Lost wages and loss of future earnings – If your injuries prevent you from working, you may be able to seek compensation for any wages or salary you lost as a result.
- Pain and suffering – You may be able to seek compensation for any physical pain and emotional distress you experienced as a result of the accident.
- Property damage – If your boat or other personal property was damaged in the accident, you might be able to seek compensation for the cost of repairs or replacement.
How Much Time Do I Have To File a Lawsuit After a Boating Accident?
Under Virginia Code, Section 8.01-243, the deadline for filing a lawsuit after a boating accident is two years from the date of the accident. It is important to note that there are some exceptions and variations to the statute of limitations depending on the specifics of the accident and the parties involved. For example, if a government entity was responsible for the accident, the statute of limitations may be shorter.
What should I do immediately following a boating accident?
If you are involved in a boat accident, it is essential to remain calm and take the following steps:
- Check to see if you’ve been injured and provide first aid if anyone else is hurt.
- Call for help by activating a marine radio or your phone.
- Notify the Coast Guard, the Virginia Marine Police, or local authorities if anyone is injured or there is damage to the boat or surrounding property.
- Exchange information with the other boat’s operator, including name, contact information, and insurance details.
- Take pictures of your injuries, damage to the boat(s) involved, and the surrounding area if possible.
- Do not leave the accident scene until the Coast Guard or local authorities arrive.
- Contact an experienced injury lawyer to represent you if you’ve been hurt.
Contact a Virginia Boating Accident Lawyer
Boating accidents are a serious matter and can lead to costly injuries. If you have been injured in a boating accident in Virginia, seek legal advice from an experienced boat accident attorney as soon as possible.
With over a decade of experience helping those injured in preventable accidents in Virginia, we have the skills and resources to fight for you. We understand that a boating accident can be a traumatic and challenging time for you and your family, and we are committed to helping you seek the full and fair compensation you deserve. Don’t hesitate to contact us today at (757) 383-6848 or online for a case evaluation.