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Boat Accidents

Virginia Boat Accident Lawyers

Boating is a popular pastime in Virginia, with many residents and visitors taking advantage of the Commonwealth’s many beautiful bodies of water for recreation, transportation, and more. Some of the most popular bodies of water for boating in Northern Virginia include the Potomac River, the Occoquan River, Belmont Bay, and Lake Anna. These bodies of water see a lot of boat traffic. While boating can be a fun and relaxing activity, it also carries certain risks, particularly when operators fail to adhere to safety regulations or act negligently.

Virginia Boating Standards

Boater Safety Education Requirement- No person shall operate a watercraft with a 10-horsepower engine or higher without first meeting the boating safety education requirements set out in Virginia Code § 29.1-735.2. Virginia Code § 29.1-735.2 requires all motorboat operators of a 10-horsepower engine or higher to meet certain state or national standards to operate a motorboat on public waters in Virginia. Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources provides information on accredited classes.

Life Jackets/Personal Flotation Devices- Under Virginia Administrative Code 4VAC15-430-30, there must be at least one personal flotation device, aka life jacket, on board for each person on the recreational vessel. Additionally, it is unlawful to operate a recreational vessel of 16 feet or greater without an additional throwable personal flotation device.

Do Not Operate a Watercraft While Intoxicated- Boating is typically a recreational activity, which tends to involve alcohol. Similar to operating an automobile in Virginia, it is illegal under Virginia Code § 29.1-738 to operate a watercraft or motorboat while intoxicated. The level of a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to establish intoxication is defined under Virginia Code § 18.2-266, which is the same BAC standard as operating a motor vehicle. We see preventable injuries occur all the time on the Potomac River caused by the negligent actions of an intoxicated boater.

Boating Scenarios and Duty of Care Standards

Boat tours, water taxis, commuting, and recreation are all common scenarios in which boating accidents can occur. Depending on the type of boating activity and the operator involved, different duty of care standards may apply. For example:

  • Boat tours: Boat tour operators owe a duty of care to their passengers to provide a safe and enjoyable experience. This includes maintaining the vessel in good condition, ensuring that all safety equipment is in place and functioning properly, and adhering to all applicable regulations and laws. Boat Tours in Washington D.C. are particularly popular due to the Potomac River’s iconic waterfront skyline of our national monuments. It is important that these boat tours maintain the required standard of care to prevent injuries to their passengers.
  • Water taxis/commuting: Water taxi operators owe a duty of care to their passengers to transport them safely and efficiently. This includes maintaining the vessel in good condition, adhering to all applicable regulations and laws and taking appropriate measures to avoid collisions or other accidents. Water Taxi’s in Northern Virginia are popular ways to commute between Old Town Alexandria, Georgetown, National Harbor, and National’s Stadium. This water taxi service is required to maintain certain standards of care for its passengers to prevent any catastrophic injuries caused by negligence.
  • Recreation-jet skis: Personal watercraft operators owe a duty of care to other boaters and water users to operate their vessel in a safe and responsible manner. This includes adhering to all applicable regulations and laws like DUI/ DWI, maintaining a safe speed and distance from other vessels, and avoiding reckless or negligent behavior. Unfortunately, recreational jet-skiing, as well as recreational boating, is a major cause of brain injuries or death in Virginia’s waters.

Common Catastrophic Injuries in Boat Accidents

Boat accidents can result in a wide range of injuries, from minor cuts and bruises to catastrophic and life-altering conditions. Some of the most common injuries that victims of boat accidents may sustain include:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI): A TBI can occur when the head is struck or shaken violently, causing damage to the brain. TBIs can result in a range of symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, memory loss, and cognitive impairments.
  • Spinal cord injury: A spinal cord injury can occur when the spinal cord is damaged or severed in a crash, resulting in partial or complete paralysis, loss of sensation, and possibly death.
  • Drowning: In some cases, boat accidents can result in victims being thrown overboard or trapped inside the vessel, leading to drowning or near-drowning incidents.
  • Burns: Boat crashes can also result in burn injuries, particularly if fuel or other hazardous substances are involved.

Recoverable Compensation in Boat Accident Cases

If you have been injured in a boat accident in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington D.C. you may be entitled to recover compensation for a variety of damages. Some of the damages that may be recoverable in a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim include medical expenses, the cost of emergency treatment, hospitalization, surgery, medication, rehabilitation, and other medical expenses related to your injuries, compensation for your injuries, physical pain, mental anguish, inconvenience, and lost wages.

Protect Your Rights and Recovery: Contact Us Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boat accident, you need an experienced attorney on your side to protect your rights and help you recover the compensation you deserve. Our team of lawyers has the knowledge and experience necessary to navigate the complexities of boating accident cases and ensure that you receive the best possible outcome. Call us at 703-836-3366 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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