Boat/Watercraft Injuries
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The questions on this page were answered by our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk personal injury attorneys. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.

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  • What are the most common causes of boating accident injuries and death?

    According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the most common causes of boating accidents are:

    • Boat operator drinking and driving
    • Careless or reckless boat operation
    • Engine failure
    • Equipment failure
    • Excessive speed
    • Failure to follow boating regulations
    • Failure to maintain a proper lookout
    • Inexperience of the boat operator
    • Weather conditions

  • What are the most frequent causes of severe injuries suffered by boating accident victims?

    The most frequent cause of injuries in boating accidents are the result of the vessels colliding or contact with moving propellors. Another frequent cause is the difficulty many boaters have with steering of the vessels when releasing the throttle.

  • What types of incidents are classified as boating accidents?

    According to the United States Coast Guard, an incident is classified as a boating accident if one of the following three occur:

    • A boating accident kills a victim or injures the victim beyond the assistance of first-aid.
    • A suspected boating incident causes the injury, death, or disappearance of a victim.
    • The vessel involved in the incident caused or sustained damage.

    The most common types of watercrafts involved in boating accidents are cabin cruisers, jet skis, and runabouts. These are ore commonly involved than schooners and sailboats.

  • If I was hurt by the operator of a personal watercraft, how does a Virginia personal injury attorney determine if there was negligence?

    Our attorneys will determine if the watercraft operator was speeding or weaving in a reckless manner on the water; following another vessel too closely, and did the operator cross the path of another vessel. 

  • How does a Virginia personal injury attorney determine if a boat operator was negligent?

    Our Virginia personal injury attorneys will look at such factors as whether the boat operator was intoxicated; whether he was speeding or operating the boat in a negligent manner; and whether the boat operator was in compliance with regulations in the Virginia code about how to operate a boat properly. 

  • If I am hurt in a boating accident by someone else, can I sue for damages in Virginia?

    Yes. With the many lakes, rivers and other waterways in Virginia, boating accidents are common. If a boat operator is negligent, he or she can be sued for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. 

  • What types of insurance apply to boat crashes?

    While neither Virginia nor North Carolina require boat or personal watercraft owners to insure their vessels, a majority of people do so for their own protection. Also, many marinas and banks that issue boat loans demand that the people who use their services carry boat insurance.

    Boat insurance works very similarly to auto insurance, covering liability for injuries and property damage. Filing a claim requires showing negligence such as violating right of way or speeding in a no-wake zone. Succeeding with a claim against a negligent boat operator or personal watercraft rider can result in compensation and monetary damages for medical bills, lost wages, boat repairs or replacement, and pain and suffering.

    If an at-fault boater does not have a separate insurance policy on his or her watercraft, a personal injury lawyer will explore possibilities for filing claims against the individual’s homeowner’s or renter’s policy. Pursuing a civil lawsuit against the at-fault boater may also be an option, as may invoking uninsured boater provisions of a client’s own boat insurance policy.

  • 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.

  • When do I need to report a boating accident?

    An accident or loss of life needs to be reported to the proper authority if any of the following occurs:
    1. Someone dies in the boat accident
    2. A person disappears under circumstances that indicate death or injury
    3. Damage to the boat and property exceeds $500
    4. Complete loss of the boat
    5. A person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid