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.
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.
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 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:
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.
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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