Each year, many people are hurt in Virginia boat accidents, and some of those accidents result in death. If you’ve been hurt or your loved one has died in a boating accident, you already know the physical pain, emotional suffering, inconvenience, and worry that occurs after the crash. When you face the financial and emotional stress following a boat accident, it’s important to hire a personal injury lawyer to ensure a fair recovery.
Common Causes of Boat Accidents
Each year, the United States Coast Guard publishes Recreational Boating Statistics. The report includes information about common causes of recreational boat accidents, injuries, and deaths. According to recent statistics, the five most common reasons for recreational boat accidents are:
- Alcohol use
- Improper lookout
- Machinery failure
- Operator inexperience
- Operator inattention
These causes resulted in various types of accidents, including:
- Collisions with other recreational boats
- Collisions with fixed objects
- Flooding or swamping of the boat
- Grounding of the boat
- Falls overboard
When any of these accidents happen, serious injuries such as brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, internal injuries, and death can occur.
Who Should Pay for Your Boat Accident Injuries?
The same personal injury and wrongful death laws that apply to Virginia car accidents apply to Virginia recreational boat accidents. If the boat operator, the boat manufacturer, or someone else was negligent and that negligence caused your injury or your loved one’s death, you have the right to recover damages.
To prove negligence, you need to convince the insurance company or court that:
- The person you are suing owed you a duty of care. This could mean the person driving or operating the boat owed you a duty of care, or the boat owner, the boat manufacturer, or the boat’s maintenance provider, as well.
- The person you are suing breached the duty of care. A duty of care is breached when a person fails to act as a reasonable person would in a similar situation. For example, if a boat operator is under the influence of alcohol or has failed to complete a boating safety course, the boat operator may have breached the duty of care. Similarly, a boat manufacturer who fails to make reasonably safe mechanical parts may have breached the duty of care.
- Your injuries occurred because of the breached duty of care. To recover damages, you must prove that your injuries were caused by the defendant’s negligence. In other words, your injuries would not have occurred but for the defendant’s actions or inaction.
- You have the legal right to damages. If the first three elements are true, you must also be allowed to recover damages pursuant to Virginia law.
Once you prove who was legally responsible for your injuries, you need to prove the value of your damages. Your recovery should include compensation for past, current, and future:
- Medical expenses. All of your healthcare costs, including hospitalizations, surgeries, doctor appointments, medications, and physical therapy, should be part of your recovery.
- Lost income. If you can’t work because of your injuries, all of your lost wages, benefits, bonuses, and other lost income should be compensated.
- Physical pain and emotional suffering. Your pain and suffering may be difficult to prove, but these are significant damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer can provide the right evidence and convincing arguments, so you recover for these damages.
- Other costs. Funeral costs and any other out-of-pocket costs that you incur should be part of your recovery.
Protect Your Rights After a Boat Accident
You may have a legal right to recover damages, but the process for doing so can be complicated and overwhelming. It’s challenging to identify the right defendant, prove the elements of negligence, and prove the value of your damages.
Our experienced Northern Virginia personal injury lawyers are here to make sure that you get the fair recovery you deserve after an injury on the water. Your time to take action is limited by the Virginia Statute of Limitations, and important evidence about the cause of your accident may be difficult to get the longer you wait to take action. We encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Call us, or reach out to us via this website today to schedule your initial meeting.