For water sports and recreation enthusiasts, as well as visitors who just want to look at beautiful water scenery, southeastern Virginia is the land of limitless opportunity: choices include the magnificent Chesapeake Bay — Virginia Beach oceanfront, marinas, and wharves — Elizabeth River in Norfolk — James River in Portsmouth — and many more. This high level of water activities poses risks, and sometimes water recreation and boating accidents occur.
Boat Accidents Pose Unique Questions
In some ways, boating accidents are similar to other types of accidents: liability for injuries generally is determined by who was responsible for causing the accident. Product liability is also possible, because many water activities involve boats, Jet Skis or another personal watercraft, water skis, and other equipment.
In other ways, boating accidents are different from other accidents, including the fact that special laws may apply. For boating or water sports accidents in Virginia, state law and regulations apply, including those applicable to water activities. Sometimes local laws apply as well. In addition, U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules are applicable. Finally, depending on where the accident happened, federal laws and regulations may pertain too.
There are many different ways water recreation or boat accident injuries can occur. Collisions with another watercraft or with a fixed object are the most common types of water accidents. Swamping and grounding can cause injuries, and skier mishaps also occur with some frequency. In addition, a person may fall in a boat or fall overboard, or be hit by a watercraft while in the water. Machinery and equipment failures can cause injuries. Even fires and explosions happen.
No matter how a water sport or boating accident occurs, water injury situations are factually complex and require extensive investigation before determinations about legal responsibility can be made. Recreating and reconstructing a boating accident can be very difficult. Boating accidents often happen on open water. Unlike other types of accidents — for example, car accidents and slip-and-fall cases — it often isn’t possible to return to the scene or premises where the accident happened. Additionally, physical evidence can be lost, because a boat or watercraft or significant parts of the craft can sink or be carried off in the current.
Boating Accident Causes and Injuries
The primarily cause of boat accidents is operator error, including: inattention, reckless or careless operation, excessive speed, inappropriate behavior, inexperience, and inadequate lookout. Often, alcohol or drug use is involved. Accidents can also be caused by negligent designed or defective design of boating or water equipment.
Boat accident injuries are frequently very severe and even fatal. Trauma often includes broken bones; head wounds, which can cause traumatic brain injury; carbon monoxide poisoning; back, neck, and shoulder injuries and fractures; and deep lacerations caused by a propeller or other equipment.
When Should You Talk With an Attorney About Your Water Sport or Boating Accident?
If someone else was responsible for causing the accident that injured you, that person may be legally liable for your medical costs, lost wages, and other losses. If your injuries are minor and temporary, and all your medical expenses have been paid, it may not be necessary to talk with a lawyer. But if you have serious injuries requiring extended or extensive medical treatment or permanent impairment, it is in your best interest to talk with an attorney about your legal options. If you lost a loved one in a boating accident that may have been caused by another person, you also should talk with an attorney about whether a wrongful death lawsuit is possible.
If your boating accident occurred in Virginia, a local attorney is in the best position to help with your case. Knowing state and local laws and regulations is critical in determining responsibility. When a case goes to court, being represented by a local attorney who knows the local customs and court rules can make a difference in the outcome. Personal injury attorney Jeff Brooke has the knowledge and experience that really matters in a case involving boating or water sport accident injuries or a wrongful death caused by a boating accident. If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries — or if you lost a loved one — in a boating accident in Virginia, we are here to help. Contact us by phone at (757) 552-6055 or by using our online contact form.
Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.