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Boating accident attorneys in Virginia


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Thousands of people are injured or killed in recreational boating accidents every year in the United States. More than 4,100 U.S. boating accidents in 2019 cost 613 people their lives and injured 2,559 more, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

In Virginia alone, 84 boating accidents caused 20 fatalities and injured 33 people.

Several factors can contribute to boating accidents, including weather, congested waterways, and equipment failure. But many recreational boating accidents are caused by operator negligence.

If you have been hurt in a boating accident caused by someone else, you may be eligible to recover compensation for losses you have suffered. GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys serves our neighbors, and we work to prevent injuries from happening by sharing safety information here. But when a serious accident happens, we consider it a calling to help those who are hurt.

Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do. You are our neighbor, not a number. Let us help you after a serious boating accident. Contact GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys online or call us at: (804) 413-6777 or toll-free at (855) 781-6777 to schedule a FREE consultation and learn more.

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How boating accidents happen

Boating accidents can have many contributing factors, such as equipment failure, environmental factors, and how passengers and gear are loaded, but the most important factor is the behavior of the boat operator or owner. When a boat owner or operator acts negligently, it endangers everyone on the water.

All boat owners must ensure that everyone who operates the vessel is qualified to do so and that the boat is stocked with all necessary safety equipment, including:

  • Navigation lights
  • Anchor lights
  • A first aid kit
  • A VHF radio (not required, but a good idea)
  • An ignition safety switch, audible signaling device, and a visual distress signal
  • An up-to-date fire extinguisher
  • Life jackets for everyone onboard
  • A throwable floatation device

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources investigates all boating accidents in the Commonwealth. In 2020, more than 110 boating accidents occurred, with 51 injuries and 21 deaths. The most common types of accidents in Virginia are:

  • Capsizing
  • Falling overboard
  • Colliding with fixed objects (“allision”)
  • Water skiing mishap
  • Grounding
  • Falling onboard
  • Colliding with other vessels
  • Fire or explosions
  • Sinking
  • Striking by propellers
  • Striking submerged objects
  • Colliding with floating objects
  • Flooding

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What causes boating accidents?

With recreational boating, injuries are almost always the result of boater negligence. Boat operators should take navigating a boat just as seriously as driving a car, if not more seriously. Watercraft have to deal with rough weather, limited visibility, and hidden dangers like rocks or swimmers.

Boat owners are also required to take a safety course in Virginia and follow all boating laws in the Commonwealth. When boaters speed, boat while intoxicated, or fail to follow safety guidelines, they endanger themselves, their passengers, and other boaters.

At the end of the day, how the vessel is operated contributes the most to accidents, injuries, and fatalities by far. The most dangerous behaviors when boating include:

  • Alcohol use is involved in almost one out of every five boating fatalities
  • Drug use
  • Excessive speed
  • Improper lookout
  • Sharp turns
  • Operator inexperience
  • Operator inattention
  • Navigation rules violations
  • Inadequate onboard navigation lights

If a boat operator did something like this and caused your injuries, you may be able to file a personal injury claim for compensation. Boating accidents often result in serious injuries, including brain damage, spinal cord damage, and broken bones. You may be struggling to pay your medical bills, but the person who hurt you should be the one to pay.

The best thing to do after a boating accident is to speak with a Virginia personal injury lawyer right away. You’ll want to find someone who has who has experience handling boating accident cases.

The accident may be covered under the boater’s homeowner’s insurance policy or boating insurance. While the Commonwealth does not require boaters to have liability insurance for their boats, individual marinas may require it. If you were injured by a negligent boater, you may be able to recover full compensation through one of these policies.

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Boating under the influence in Virginia

Because boating, fishing, and waterskiing are recreational activities, a lot of people don’t appreciate how dangerous it can be to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or recreational or prescription drugs. But in Virginia, operating a boat while under the influence is prosecuted by law enforcement officials and taken just as seriously as driving under the influence.

Drugs and alcohol impair a person’s judgment, balance, vision, depth perception, and reaction time. When used in combination, drugs and alcohol can seriously hinder the captain’s ability to operate a boat. And heat and exposure to the sun may increase the level of impairment caused by drugs and alcohol.

Anyone who operates the boat must be in full command of their senses. It can be disastrous when someone who is under the influence is allowed to take control of the helm, even if it’s only for a short period of time.

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Getting compensation for your injuries

Boat owners have the responsibility to guarantee that anyone who operates their boat is fit to oversee the safety of all passengers. The captain and owner are also responsible for making sure they have enough safety equipment for all passengers, and this includes life preservers. Federal law requires that all children under 13 wear a life jacket.

If you are boating with friends, or if you take a charter cruise, the boat’s owner and the captain may be held legally liable for any injuries caused by the careless actions of the boat’s operator. Your boat injury lawyer will investigate the accident to determine who is responsible for injuries or death. This may include:

  • Drowning
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injury or paralysis
  • Bone fractures
  • Burns
  • Electric shock
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Loss of limb
  • Internal organ damage
  • Disfigurement

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Were you hurt in a boating accident?

Our Virginia water accident attorneys at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys have six decades of combined experience and a record of success in the courtroom. We aren’t afraid to take the big insurance companies to court if that’s we have to do to get you compensation to cover the cost of your injuries.

We’ve worked for big insurance companies and as trial lawyers. Now we are proud to serve our neighbors here in Eastern Virginia.

Give us a call at (804) 413-6777or toll-free at (855) 781-6777 to learn more. And ask about our no-fee guarantee: We get paid when we get you paid.

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Additional Information

Call our Eastern Virginia office today for a free consultation
at (804) 413-6777 or toll free (855) 781-6777.

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It costs you nothing for our firm to represent you. We only get paid when you do. Learn more

Community Service

Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.