Virginia Boating Accidents: Causes, Liability, and Damages

The U.S. Coast Guard reported that nearly 660 people throughout the United States were killed in recreational boating accidents in 2021 while thousands more were injured. Surprisingly, about 76% of all deadly boating accidents took place on crafts where the person operating the boat had undergone absolutely no boat safety training.

How do boating accidents happen?

The majority of boating accidents are avoidable and only take place because of someone’s negligent actions. If you were injured or a family member was killed in a boating accident, you could be eligible to collect financial compensation. This post can help you understand who might be liable and how you can recover your damages when something goes wrong on the water. 

To avoid endangering your personal injury case, call the Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free case review and learn what legal action we recommend for your circumstances.

Common Causes of Virginia Boating Accidents

Hampton, VA boat accident

Virginia boating accidents can happen for numerous reasons. Some of the most common causes of Virginia boating and watercraft accidents are:

  • Inexperienced Operators: If a boat captain or boat operator does not have the experience needed to safely operate a boat, their lack of skill and training can easily lead to a serious accident.  
  • Improper Lookout: At least one person on board the vessel should always have an eye out for hazards and obstacles. Spotting these dangers ahead of time gives the operator enough time to respond appropriately and circumvent an accident. 
  • Speeding: Operating a boat at too high a speed increases the odds of being involved in a collision or capsizing. 
  • Distracted Operation: If a boat operator is focusing their attention on their phone, food, a passenger, or anything else other than their surroundings, this could lead to a catastrophic accident
  • Operating under the Influence: Drunk driving is not just against the law for those operating cars and trucks. In Virginia, it is also unlawful to drunkenly operate any watercraft. Drunk boat operators are one of the leading causes of Virginia boating accidents.  
  • Inclement weather: Gale-force winds, torrential rains, and other inclement weather conditions create ideal conditions for a boating accident. 
  • Equipment Malfunctions: If there is a malfunction or a defect in a piece of boat equipment, such as the engine not shifting into gear or overheating, it could cause a boating accident.  

Who Might be Liable for My Virginia Boating Accident?

Establishing liability for a boating accident can be challenging. Some parties who could potentially be to blame for your boating accident injuries and damages are:

  • The operator of the boat you were on, if they acted negligently. In other words, they behaved with less care and caution than a prudent boater would have under the same or similar circumstances.
  • The operator of the boat that struck or otherwise interfered with your vessel
  • The parts or boat manufacturer if an equipment fault or malfunction caused your boating accident
  • The government or entity responsible for maintaining the waterways if they negligently created a dangerous situation for those on the water. 

What Damages Can I Collect for My Virginia Boating Accident?  

Following a serious boating accident that was not your fault, you deserve to collect full and fair financial compensation for all the damages you incurred. The exact damages that a victim is entitled to will depend on the circumstances surrounding their accident, but by and large, boating accident victims are eligible to be compensated for:  

  • Current and anticipated medical expenses for any necessary medical care and treatments
  • Lost income if you were unable to work, were forced to use your sick days or personal days, or your future earning capacity has been diminished
  • Pain, suffering, and mental anguish if the accident or your injuries have negatively affected your physical or mental health  
  • Wrongful death damages if a family member was killed during a boating accident. Wrongful death damages can include hospital bills accrued prior to the death, loss of wages if the deceased contributed to the household, pain, suffering, mental trauma, and lost fellowship.

An experienced Virginia boating accident attorney can help you maximize the compensation that is available to you after a serious or fatal boating accident.

Were You Injured in a Boating Accident?

The Virginia Beach personal injury law firm of Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp has over four decades of experience helping victims collect the compensation they are entitled to after an injury. If you were injured or a family member was killed due to boating negligence, give us a call at (833) 997-1774 and schedule your free case review today.

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