Frequently Asked Questions
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Can a boater cause a DUI crash?
A boat operator or personal watercraft rider can absolutely cause a DUI crash. Both Virginia and North Carolina have enacted BWI, or boating while intoxicated, laws that set a blood alcohol limit of .08 for boaters older than 21. Also, boaters are not supposed to have open containers of alcohol or illegal drugs while underway, and boaters younger than 21 are not allowed to drink even on boats tied up to docks.
When a drunk or stoned boater causes a crash, he or she can face arrest and insurance claims or lawsuits for injuries and property damage. A personal injury lawyer will work hard to hold a DUI boater financially accountable for the harm he or she inflicts.
How do I know who was at-fault in my boat crash?
Just like a driver, a boat operator or personal watercraft rider cannot exceed a posted speed limit, operate while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or act recklessly. By the laws in most states, reckless operation on the water includes jumping wakes, following too closely and weaving in and out of slower-moving vessels.
Boaters who violate these rules and crash into swimmers, other watercraft, objects in the water or the shore can be ticketed or charged with criminal offenses and asked to pay compensation and damages.
Questions regarding who caused a boat crash often come up when one watercraft crossed in front of another. Boaters in Virginia and North must follow rules of the road that dictate yielding right of way to the vessel on one’s right-hand, or starboard, side.
Establishing that one boater violated another boater’s right of way can require doing a crash reconstruction and interviewing witnesses. Working with a personal injury lawyer who has experience handling boat crash cases will ensure these things happen.
My child’s brain injury from a car crash left her with special needs. Can I make the at-fault driver pay for therapy?
Children who suffer traumatic brain injuries in car crashes often need lifetimes of ongoing care. They can remain locked into the developmental stage they were in at the time of the collision, never making progress in their abilities to read, speak or care for themselves. Some children who suffer TBIs regress in their development or become paralyzed, creating even greater strains on their family’s resources.
Recognizing this, Virginia law allows insurance claims or personal injury lawsuits to include requests for money to pay for ongoing medical and personal care. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney who can put parents in touch with brain injury and occupational therapy specialists will make it possible to predict the level of services a child with a TBI will need throughout his or her life. One result from such assessments will be an estimate of the cost of lifetime care, and that dollar amount will be included with demands for compensation and monetary damages.
How serious is a concussion as a brain injury?
Health care professionals currently have little ability to predict how serious a concussion will turn out to be. While everyone should now understand that a concussion is more than “getting your bell rung,” few recognize that the headaches, dizziness, slowed thinking and poor sleep a concussion produces can last for months or years. Further, suffering one concussion puts a person at increased risk for suffering another one whose debilitating symptoms stick around longer and disrupt everyday activities to an even greater extent.
As Virginia personal injury lawyers, my law firm colleagues and I advise every client who believes he or she has suffered a concussion to see a brain injury specialist and to follow through on any recommendations for therapy or follow-up visits. This is essential because the long-term effects of a concussion that seemed to have cleared up quickly can persist and worsen if left unaddressed.
My child suffered brain damage after falling into my neighbor’s pool. Can I sue?
As a Virginia personal injury lawyer, I’m tempted to answer this question with several technical terms like “negligence per se” and “premises liability.” The less legalistic response is that kids are drawn to pools and pool owners must take steps to limit kids’ unsupervised access to their pools.
Complying with building codes and, for places like hotels and rec centers, posting lifeguards go far toward meeting the duties to protect children from nearly drowning and suffering brain damage from lack of oxygen. But parents who see their child almost die and never fully recover from falling into a pool that lacks proper fencing or a cover in the winter definitely have grounds for filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Succeeding with a lawsuit involving a pool accident can require doing extensive research on what local ordinances require of pool owners, as well as investigating the activities of everyone who could have kept the child away from the pool. Partnering with a Virginia plaintiff’s attorney will ensure that the necessary answers are found.
What is premises liability?
Premises liability is one of the oldest concepts in civil law. In its shortest version, the theory is that property owners and occupants have enforceable legal duties to protect the life and safety of visitors. What this means in practical terms is that a customer who suffers an injury at a business, a person who gets hurt while attending a house party, or an amusement park visitor who suffers an injury may have grounds for filing a premises liability insurance claim or lawsuit. Succeeding with a premises liability claim requires the injured person to show that the property owner or occupant knew or should have known that a danger existed and did not take appropriate actions to remove or minimize that danger.
How do I know who has responsibility for my injury at a business or residence?
Discovering which insurance policies apply when you suffer an injury at a business, home or amusement park can be difficult. Often, more than one organization or individual will have legal liability for maintaining an unsafe premises or for failing to take appropriate actions to protect visitors from harm. For instance, a burn suffered at a restaurant could be due to insufficient oversight of staff by management or due to improper work done by the contractor who installed gas lines or electrical wiring. Similarly, a near-drowning in a rental property’s pool could be due to the property owner’s decision to ignore building codes or due to a resort lifeguard’s inattention. Figuring this out often requires partnering with a personal injury who has extensive experience handling premises liability cases to do the research necessary to identify the responsible party and hold them accountable.
Notee, too, that in Virginia, the injured person must also be free from what is called contributory negligence or contributing fault. If an insurer, judge, or jury finds that injured person materially contributed to causing harm to him or herself, no settlement or monetary award will be granted. Hiring a Virginia personal injury lawyer will give you a legal ally who will argue against accusations of contributory negligence.
As a bus passenger, do I have special legal protections?
Yes. A bus company is a common carrier. This means it has a higher duty of care to provide a safe environment for its passengers. This is more than the standard duty of care that private vehicle operators have to other drivers and pedestrians. For example, if a bus company gets in an accident that is only slightly the reason for your injuries, the company may need to pay for the full cost of those injuries.
If a pedestrian is struck by a bus while walking or waiting for the bus, who or what entity can be sued?
Bringing a claim against the bus company will depend upon if the bus company or driver acted negligently. Just as with everyone who is injured in a collision with a motor vehicle, a case can be filed against any entity or person whose wrongful actions led to your injuries. This might be the bus operator, the bus owner, or the owner of an illegally parked car that blocked the bus drivers’ view of you on the street. Another possibility is a suit against a public entity that did not maintain the sidewalk/crosswalk where you were struck.
If I am assaulted on a bus, can the bus company be held liable for my injuries?
The bus company is not generally automatically liable for any injury that occurs on a bus. It is possible a legal claim could be filed against the bus company if the company and driver(s) failed to use ‘reasonable care’ to ensure a safe environment on the bus.