Virginia has thousands of miles of shoreline. Each year, visitors from across the region travel to enjoy the Old Dominion’s Atlantic coast, fast-moving rivers, and picturesque lakes. While taking a boat down the Potomac or Roanoke River can be fun for the whole family, the number of boaters can make Virginia waterways dangerous. When boaters make mistakes, whether by underestimating inclement weather conditions or drinking behind the wheel, the consequences can be catastrophic.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a Virginia boating accident that was not your fault, you could be entitled to significant compensation. However, your chances of recovery could be contingent on the quality of your legal representation. Without the right attorney, securing a fair recovery may be a significant challenge.
When You May Need a Virginia Boat Crash Attorney
Not every boating accident results in serious injuries or property damage. While you might not need an attorney to recover from a fall overboard or running aground on a sandbar, more serious accidents demand a more serious response.
If You Suffer Serious Injuries
- Cuts or lacerations
- Broken or fractured bones
- Traumatic head injuries
Even with a comprehensive health insurance policy, paying medical expenses after a serious Virginia boat accident could be difficult. You might be asked to pay out of pocket for co-pays or percentage-based deductibles. A lawyer can help you assess your damages and determine whether your claim could be eligible for compensation.
If the Accident Was Caused by Negligence
Every Virginia boater has a duty of care to operate their watercraft in a reasonable manner. If a boater fails to uphold their duty of care and negligently causes an accident, they could be held liable for the costs of the resulting damages. However, establishing negligence can be difficult and requires proving four elements.
- The boat operator owed you a legal duty of care.
- The boat operator negligently breached their duty of care.
- The boat operator’s negligence directly caused or contributed to your accident-related injuries.
- Your damages, such as medical expenses, lost income, and property damage, can be compensated.
Your ability to establish negligence often requires that you provide high-quality evidence. Even if you were unable to collect evidence from the crash site, an attorney could help you thoroughly investigate the causes and circumstances of your Virginia boat crash.
If the Boat Owner Is Underinsured
Virginia, unlike some other states, does not require that private pleasure watercraft carry valid insurance policies. While many boaters do purchase liability coverage, securing compensation from a private party or insurance company can be very difficult. The defense attorney could employ common strategies to contest your claims, telling the court that your own negligence caused or contributed to the accident.
If the Insurance Adjuster Refuses to Negotiate
Even if the negligent boater or boat rental company had a liability insurance policy, insurance adjusters do not always negotiate in good faith. The adjuster could try to undermine your claim by:
- Asking you to consent to “independent” medical examinations—with a physician the insurance company chooses, who may have a reputation for rejecting claims
- Burying you in paperwork, asking you to provide seemingly never-ending proof of injury
- Requesting that you provide a recorded statement, perhaps even pressuring you to speak to an adjuster without an attorney present
While insurance companies employ a variety of strategies designed to undermine strong liability claims, an experienced Virginia boat accident attorney will know what to expect and how to help you overcome the insurance company’s defense.
Get Skilled Legal Help After Your Virginia Boat Accident
The physical and financial consequences of a serious Virginia boat accident can be life-changing. Our experienced Fairfax accident injury attorneys understand that when you’re injured, it may put you out of work; you may face expensive medical bills; and you may be overwhelmed and confused by the legal challenges of filing a personal injury claim. We know that you need skilled, experienced lawyers who can provide you with immediate help.
At Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC, we offer a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case, and all of our personal injury work is handled on a contingent fee basis. That means, you face no legal fees if we don’t recover for you. Let the personal injury attorneys at Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC help you obtain the justice you deserve, especially if you suffer catastrophic injuries or must deal with the wrongful death of a loved one. Contact us online, or call us at 703-691-8333.