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Virginia attorneys for water injuries

Dangers in Virginia water and who can help if you've been hurt

Fortunately for Virginians, our Commonwealth is full of water to enjoy: pools, lakes, rivers, bays, and the ocean.

Unfortunately, swimming and other water-related activities can be dangerous, especially for young people. Ten Americans die from drowning every day, making it the fifth leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sadly, it’s the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a water-related accident, you may be eligible for compensation if someone else was to blame. To find out if you have a personal injury claim in Virginia, talk to our experienced legal team at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Call us at (804) 413-6777 to speak with a lawyer for free.

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What are common causes of water-related injuries?

While boating and swimming are an important part of life in Virginia, both activities can be dangerous. The U.S. Coast Guard’s 5th District is located in Portsmouth, VA, and covers the “Mid Atlantic,” from New Jersey to South Carolina. They have a few statistics to share about the dangers of boating in Virginia:

  • In the last year for which data were available, there were 84 accidents – 18 of them were fatal, for a total of 20 people killed. This represents an significant increase since the year before, when only 9 accidents were fatal.

Some of the most common ways people become injured in the water include:

  • Powerboating: Across the U.S., powerboats cause thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths each year. Many of these incidents involve a powerboat colliding with another boat, a dock, a bridge abutment, or some other stationary object. Unlike cars, boats don’t come equipped with seatbelts. In a boat collision, occupants can be thrown against hard surfaces or into the water. Outboard and inboard-outboard powerboats have sharp metal propellers that spin rapidly and can cut and seriously maim a human body.
  • Personal watercraft: Personal watercraft (jet skis, WaveRunners, etc.) have the same dangers as powerboats, along with other injuries unique to them. Internal orifice injuries can occur when someone falls off the back of a personal watercraft. If the person lands too close to the watercraft’s jet nozzle, he or she can experience severe genital injuries. This can cause extensive damage to internal organs and even death.
  • Diving: Whether diving into a pool, lake, or river, watch out for the bottom. Catastrophic damage usually occurs when someone dives into a body of water that he isn’t familiar with and strikes the bottom or a submerged object. Diving accidents are a leading cause of serious spinal cord injuries and paralysis. In fact, one of America’s most famous diving accidents happened in our area in 1967 when Joni Eareckson Tada was 17 years old. She damaged her spinal cord in a diving accident in the Chesapeake Bay. The accident left her paralyzed from her shoulders down, and she has spent the past several decades in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic.
  • Electrocution: Believe it or not, a pool with faulty wiring isn’t the only place where you can be electrocuted. People have also been electrocuted swimming in lakes and around moored vessels. This is usually caused by faulty wiring on a lighted dock, which transfers electricity into the water by means of a metal object like a ladder. You can also be electrocuted in a pool or lake if lightning strikes the water.
  • Pool drain accidents: If a pool drain malfunctions, it can create powerful suction that swimmers, particularly children, cannot fight against. In some cases, swimmers have been eviscerated by the power of the suction, or drowned because they were held underwater. For example, R&B singer Usher’s son nearly drowned when he was held under the water by a faulty pool drain.
  • Cryptosporidiosis: Cryptosporidiosis is an infection caused by the microscopic protozoan cryptosporidium. Symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss. A person can contract cryptosporidium in lakes, ponds, rivers, and insufficiently sanitized swimming pools and Jacuzzis. A cryptosporidium spore can live in the lower intestine for up to five months and then be passed on to another mammal.

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What are the most common water-related injuries?

Water-related injuries vary widely: injuries from boat collisions are different from injuries from a faulty pool drain. With our years of helping water accident victims, we at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys have compiled the most common injuries our clients have suffered on the water:

One of the most common water injuries is brain damage. The brain requires oxygen, and when oxygen to the brain is cut off, brain cells begin to die. If someone is trapped under the water, he can suffer from extreme oxygen deprivation and near-drowning. That time without oxygen can lead to serious brain cell death and severe brain damage.

Those who have suffered brain damage from water accidents are often left with lifelong disabilities. Such an extreme injury comes with a heavy price, both emotionally and financially. No one should be left paying for an accident that wasn’t their fault. That’s why you should determine the liable party.

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Who is responsible for water injuries?

Determining the liable party may not be an easy. Water accidents can be chaotic, and the person or company responsible for your injuries may not be clear, particularly if the accident happened on open water, such as Chesapeake Bay or the Potomac, and witnesses weren’t present.

Determining who’s responsible is one the many issues an experienced attorney can help you with before filing a claim. However, generally speaking, one of the following parties are often to blame:

The at-fault operator: If you were involved in a boat collision, the driver who caused the collision is liable. This can include the operator of your own boat if you were a passenger, or the operator of another boat if he caused the accident. Remember, it’s illegal to drink while operating a boat, even if the at-fault driver insists it isn’t; and driving a boat under the influence can be just as deadly as driving a vehicle while drinking alcohol.

The rental company: Many Virginians own their own boat because boating is such a way of life for many of us in the Chesapeake area. However, others rent boats to enjoy a day on the water without the hassle of boat ownership. If a rental company rents out a dangerous or defective boat, did not ensure the boat had proper safety equipment on board, or did not explain safety procedures, they could be held responsible for any resulting accidents.

The manufacturer: Many water accidents are caused by defective parts and products. This could include a safety device that doesn’t work, a kill switch that doesn’t stop the engine, or even faulty wiring that causes a fire. Whatever the situation, if a defective part caused your accident, the company that made the part may be to blame.

The property owner: If your accident happened at a pool or private dock, the owner of the property may be liable. Property owners owe their guests or customers a duty of care, meaning the owner has to keep guests reasonably safe. This includes repairing safety hazards within a reasonable time frame. If the owner fails this duty of care, he may be responsible for resulting injuries.

Other responsible parties can include the person or company that designed or built the pool or part of the pool, the owner of the pool, the person or company supposed to maintain the pool, the manufacturer or owner of the boat or other personal watercraft, the municipality responsible for the safety of a pool or beach, or even a lifeguard. It really depends on the situation and a Virginia boat accident lawyer is available to discuss your legal matter.

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Need a Virginia attorney for a water-related injury?

Sadly, there’s no shortage of harm that can happen in or around water. If you were injured or have lost a loved one in a water-related accident, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your losses.

To find out more about water-related injuries and your legal rights, call GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys at (804) 413-6777. Remember, it costs you nothing to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim in Virginia. We get paid only when we win your case.

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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.