Carpenter Disabled by Design Defect in Custom-Built Ski Boat Receives Confidential Settlement | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our personal injury law firm client was spending the day on the Virginia side of Lake Gaston when he suffered serious foot and ankle injuries while stepping into his custom-designed ski boat.

The man had been wakeboarding with his family on the lake that straddles the Virginia-North Carolina border and provides drinking water to Virginia Beach. His foot slipped through a set of cushions on the seat that also served as the inner swim deck and engine cover, and the foot became trapped in the crack between the seat and the seatback/inner hull.

By the time his terrified family managed to free our Virginia personal injury client after about 15 minutes, parts of the man’s foot and ankle had turned black. He was also in considerable pain and bleeding profusely.

A trip to the emergency room stopped the bleeding and restored blood flow to the injured foot and ankle. However, our client suffered irreparable nerve damage and can expect to experience flashes of pain and periods of numbness and weakness for the rest of his life. These lingering effects of the accident impaired the man’s ability to work to his full capacity as a professional carpenter and contractor.


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Key Legal Strategy

Our Virginia personal injury attorneys filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the custom-built ski boat, claiming that defective and negligent design put the boat owner and his family in danger for an accident like the one that happened on Lake Gaston. We based our request for compensation and damages on the degree of disability and amount of discomfort our client would experience throughout his life.

We first hired a mechanical engineer to examine the ski boat and write a report based on his findings. That report presented the engineer’s conclusions that the design of the combination seat, swim deck and engine cover deviated so far from industry standards that it constituted a hazardous defect.

We also asked a physical therapist to assess our client and offer an opinion regarding the long-term effects of the damage to the nerves in the man’s foot and ankle. Using AMA guidelines for determining function and disability, the therapist rated the carpenter and contractor as impaired.

The custom ski boat manufacturer acknowledged the strength of the evidence our Virginia personal injury attorneys compiled and agreed to settle all injury and disability claims before going to trial. The injured boat owner accepted a confidential sum that he considered adequate.

Boat accidents encompass more than crashes on the water, and defective products threaten the lives and health of consumers everywhere. As Virginia personal injury attorneys, we welcome opportunities to hold makes of dangerous products accountable for the harm they cause.

Staff: Richard N. Shapiro, attorney and staff attorney