A tragic July 4th weekend boating accident killed a 17-year-old Henrico, VA teen. According to news media accounts and a statement from the Toronto Blue Jays, the victim was the daughter of the team’s first-base coach, Mark Budzinski.

Details released by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources say the teen was killed after falling off an inflatable tube on the James River Saturday. When the boat pulling the tube turned around to get her, she was struck by the boat’s propeller. In its statement, the department said that neither foul play nor alcohol appear to be factors in the accident.

Boat Accidents Statistics

According to the United States Coast Guard, are more than 4,400 boating accidents across the country last year that resulted killed 658 people and left another 2,641 with serious personal injuries. The cost of these boating accidents totals more than $67 million.

The majority of boating accidents take place over the months of June, July, and August. In more than half of these cases, it is usually boater inexperience, inattention, or reckless behaviors that are to blame.

Boating Accident Lawsuits

Just like any other accident, if a person sustains injuries from a boating accident that is caused by another party, they are entitled to pursue a personal injury claim against that party for the losses they have suffered. If the person dies as a result of their injuries, their family may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A Virginia personal injury attorney can help with both types of legal action.

The type of compensation that may be available in a Virginia boating accident lawsuit includes the following:

Economic damages: These are also referred to as compensatory or special damages. These types of damages have a quantifiable financial amount attached to them. Examples of economic damages include medical expenses for treatment of injuries and lost wages and benefits due to being unable to work as the victim recovered from their injuries.

Noneconomic damages: These are also referred to as general damages. Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are intangible and cannot be determined by a quantifiable dollar amount. A Virginia boating accident attorney has different formula options available to determine the appropriate financial amount that the victim deserves. Examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, permanent disability, scarring, and disfigurement.

Punitive damages: In accidents where the at-fault party’s behavior was especially egregious, the court may decide to award punitive damages, as well. These types of damages are meant to punish the at-fault party and also send a message to society that this type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. An example of an accident where punitive damages could be awarded is where the boat operator who caused the crash was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.

Wrongful death: In boat accidents where the victim dies, their family can pursue a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. Both tangible and intangible damages are awarded in a wrongful death claim, including loss of the decedent’s income (tangible) and loss of the decedent’s companionship (intangible).

Do I Need an Attorney to File a Boating Accident Claim?

Although you are not legally required to have an attorney file your claim or lawsuit against the party who caused the boating accident, boating accidents can be complex because of the jurisdiction the accident falls under. While some boating accidents fall under the state’s personal injury laws, many accidents fall under the jurisdiction of federal maritime laws. Working with a seasoned Virginia boat accident attorney will ensure that any stringent rules required under either maritime or state law will be adhered to, protecting you from the risk of a reduction of the amount you receive or result in your case being dismissed completely.

Let Our Firm Help

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, contact a skilled Virginia boat accident attorney to find out what legal options you may have for the injuries you have suffered. The legal team at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp is well-versed and experienced in both federal maritime and Virginia and North Carolina boating laws. We have been advocating for boat accident victims for more than three decades, including one case where we secured a large settlement for a client who had suffered multiple injuries in a charter fishing boat accident.

Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation and find out what legal options you may have.  Our firm also offers a free boating accident guide to anyone who has sustained injuries in boat accidents. The guide covers topics such as whether or not a boating accident victim should pursue an injury claim, boating accident laws, and insurance issues.