Virginia Beach is a great city for residents and visitors alike to enjoy time out on a boat. Between its beaches, beautiful neighborhoods, and close proximity to the naval base, the area draws in boaters from all over the world.
Unfortunately, not every outing on the water is a happy one. Too often, excursions on boats and other watercraft end in tragic accidents and leave victims with severe injuries. If you suffered a serious boat accident injury that wasn’t your fault, you might be entitled to significant compensation.
At Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C., we’re committed to helping boat accident victims fight for their rights when someone else’s recklessness or wrongdoing leaves them with serious injuries. With more than 30 years of experience serving Virginia Beach and the surrounding areas, our trusted boating accident attorneys have the legal skills to tackle even the most complicated cases.
With Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C., you can trust that we have your best interests in mind because our knowledgeable and compassionate legal team is dedicated to doing all we can to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. We take every case personally, which means that we will take the time to get to know you, listen to your story, answer your questions, and craft a legal strategy that makes the most sense for your personal circumstances.
If a boating accident left you with serious injuries, don’t wait to stand up for your rights. To get started on the road to recovery, contact Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C. today for a free case evaluation. Call us or fill out our quick online form now.
Common Causes of Boating Accidents in Virginia Beach
Whether you’re on the ocean, on the bay, on a lake, or enjoying some other waterway in the area, boating accidents often occur when you least expect it. However, there are certain circumstances that are more like to lead to a tragic event than others.
Some of the situations that most commonly cause these accidents in Virginia Beach include:
- Boaters who are inexperienced or who don’t have adequate training
- Reckless or negligent actions by operators of jet skis, boats, and other watercraft
- Incidents at boat landings, ramps, and docks
- Vessels that run into other watercraft
- Weather conditions that cause hazards, such as reduced visibility, high waves, or other dangers
- Failure to vent
- Mechanical fires or explosions
- Propeller accidents
- Diving from a vessel into shallow water
- Slips and falls onboard
- Misconduct by passengers or crew, such as fighting, standing on the bow, or not paying attention to their surroundings
- Trying to start a boat while in gear
- Uneven weight distribution
- Towing accidents
- Distractions while operating a vessel
- Boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Exposure to carbon monoxide and other toxic fumes
- Not using a navigation aid or lookout person to help prevent collisions with other vessels or avoid objects in the water like logs
- Manufacturer defects
- Equipment failures or code violations, such as navigation lights that are missing or broken
- Improper anchoring
- Violating local navigation laws, including going above the appropriate speed for an area
- Low water levels, debris, and other hazards in the water
- Failure to properly maintain a boat
- Boater errors, such as trying to turn too sharply or too quickly
- Dangerous wakes
- Carrying more passengers or heavy objects than the vessel can hold
Types of Injuries Suffered by Boating Accident Victims
Accidents on boats and other vessels around Virginia Beach can cause a wide variety of injuries, such as:
- Lacerations, cuts, and scrapes
- Spinal cord damage and other serious back injuries
- Electric shock
- Burns from fires or overheated equipment
- Sprains or strains
- Smoke inhalation
- Concussions, skull fractures, and other brain injuries
- Broken and fractured bones
- Internal bleeding or organ damage
Types of Boats Frequently Involved in Injury Accidents
Some types of boats and other watercraft that are frequently involved in Virginia Beach accident injuries include:
- Cabin cruisers
- Ski boats
- Commercial boats
- Fishing and shrimping boats
- Party boats
- Rafts or inflatables
- Jet skis
Boating Accident Laws in Virginia
Similar to the laws for drivers on the road, Virginia also has several laws related to operating boats and other watercraft. For example, boat operators usually must be at least 16 years old, although children who are 14 or 15 might be eligible to operate a boat if they complete a boating safety education class.
Boaters must ensure that their watercraft meets local codes, such as having at least one life jacket for each person onboard. These safety devices must be easily accessible, plus the life jackets must be the proper sizes for the passengers who are currently on the boat.
Operators must obey speed limits, especially near piers, docks, and boat ramps, as well as around areas where there might be swimmers. They must also avoid any reckless actions, such as getting to close to other boats, weaving in between other vessels, or purposely driving toward a person or object in the water.
If a boat operator is in an accident, Virginia law requires that they stop to offer assistance to the other people involved. They must also formally report the accident to their local law enforcement agency if someone disappears because of the accident or if it causes a fatality, severe injury, or property damage worth over $2,000. For accidents involving a fatality or a person who is missing or injured, boaters usually have only 48 hours to report the event. If an accident only causes property damage, they have up to 10 days to report it.
Beyond state laws and regulations related to boating safety, Virginia also has a variety of laws that might affect a victim’s rights to compensation after a boating accident. For example, under Virginia’s statute of limitations rules, victims of any type of personal injury accident, including boating collisions, typically have only two years to file a claim. After this deadline expires, the victim might not be able to recover any kind of compensation for their injuries.
Compensation and Settlements for Virginia Boat Accident Victims
Victims who are injured in serious boating accidents in Virginia have a legal right to pursue compensation from those at fault for the accident. While the specific amount that a victim might be able to get for their injuries will depend on the circumstances of their accident, the types of damages that boat accident victims can typically recover include:
- Compensation for disfigurement or disability
- Medical bills, such as those for surgeries, ambulance transportation, anesthesia, hospitalization, MRIs, medications, lab work, and other types of diagnostic tests and medical care
- Replacement of services the victim can no longer perform because of their injuries, such as cleaning, yard work, household repairs, and childcare
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship, ability to take part in enjoyable activities, and consortium
- Future medical costs, such as rehabilitation, long-term care, physical therapy, prescriptions, and follow-up visits or other types of care or treatment
- Specialized medical devices or equipment such as a wheelchair, prosthetics, and a breathing machine
- Disability accommodations
- Income lost while recovering from the accident
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Inability to go back to work or to earn comparable wages in the future because of the accident
If a victim dies in a boating accident, then their surviving family might be eligible to file a wrongful death suit. While this money cannot make up for the loss of a relative, compensation can help survivors cover some of the damages of the accident, such as funeral and burial costs or the loss of the deceased’s income.
Contact a Virginia Beach Boating Injury Lawyer
Don’t wait a moment longer to get on the path to recovery after a boating accident. Contact Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C. today, and let our experienced Virginia Beach attorneys fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.
For your free legal consultation, call us right away or fill out our quick online form.