Richmond Boat Accident Lawyer
A long, lazy day out on a boat sounds like a blast, whether you’re fishing, water skiing, or simply riding around and having fun with your loved ones. Unfortunately, that fun can quickly turn to pain if your day ends in a boating accident. Injuries on the water can lead to significant damages or fatalities, and depending on the vessel and location of the incident, can involve complicated legal issues too.
After a boating accident, do not navigate the legal system on your own. If you’ve suffered significant injuries in a Virginia lake, river, or ocean-going boating accident, contact Emroch & Kilduff at (804) 358-1568. We may be able to help.
What to Expect When You Work with Emroch & Kilduff
When you hire a lawyer, you want to know that you have someone on your side who will fight for your interests and protect your rights. Emroch & Kilduff is a Virginia law firm that focuses its practice exclusively on personal injury matters. It’s a personal choice we make every day, to take the side of people going through some of the most difficult and vulnerable moments in their lives. Over our years of legal practice, we have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of injured Virginians and their families. Although we cannot guarantee a result for any future client, we are proud of our past successes and believe they demonstrate our commitment to serving our clients’ needs to the best of our abilities.
Common Boat Accident Injuries
Boating accidents can result in a wide range of serious injuries, many of which can cause long-term impacts for the injured individuals. This can include:
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries are common when someone slips and falls on a boat, in collisions between boats or with a floating object, or even from compression of the spine when a boat hull impacts waves at high speed. These injuries can lead to paralysis and other long-term disabilities.
- Traumatic brain injury: Traumatic brain injury may occur if the injured individual strikes their head as a result of the accident. Brain damage can also occur when an individual drowns and the brain is without oxygen for too long.
- Drowning: All too often, people fail to adhere to proper safety precautions when out on the water, including failing to wear a personal flotation device. Even strong swimmers should wear a PFD or other safety equipment on mildly rough water.
- Lacerations: There are plenty of hazards in the water that can cause deep lacerations, including propellers, floating debris, and (on fishing boats) sharp objects like hooks, gaffs, and knives. A fish landed on a boat deck can slice skin with its teeth or scales. Lacerations pose a high risk of secondary infection, particularly when they occur on a boat far from shore.
- Whiplash: When a boat accelerates or decelerates quickly, or impacts between the hull and water throw passengers around, the soft tissue in a person’s neck and upper back can sustain damage, leading to the painful condition known as whiplash. Untreated, whiplash can lead to serious complications.
- Electrocution: Any boat with a motor also has an electrical system of one sort or another. Boat owners must maintain electrical systems to ensure against electrocution. Water conducts electricity, making a frayed wire or exposed electrical circuit a particular hazard on a boat.
Who May Be Responsible for a Virginia Boating Injury?
If you sustain an injury on the water in Virginia, chances are you will want to figure out who bears responsibility for your injuries. In some cases, several individuals may share responsibility. In others, a single individual may bear liability for your accident. Working with a lawyer can help establish who is to blame for the injuries you’ve suffered.
- The person driving your boat: In some cases, the person driving your boat may be responsible for your injuries. The driver bears responsibility when they are driving irresponsibly: starting too fast; coming too close to other boats, buoys, or objects on the water; coming too close to you. Boat drivers may also be held liable for irresponsible choices when towing someone behind the boat. Just like driving a car, driving a boat becomes more difficult with an inebriated or distracted driver. Boat drivers should avoid texting while driving. Drivers should also avoid drinking while driving the boat. Boat passengers should also avoid excessive drinking, especially if water-skiing or swimming.
- The person driving another boat: Did another boat strike yours or strike you, leading to your accident? If so, this individual may be the one responsible for your injuries.
- The boat yard or boat manufacturer. It is notoriously difficult to maintain a boat in seaworthy condition. When boat owners entrust maintenance of their vessel to a boat yard, the yard may have liability for negligence that causes the boat to fail and leads to injury. Likewise, if a boat manufacturer delivers a defective product that fails and injuries boaters, the manufacturer may bear legal responsibility.
- You: When you’re out on the water, it’s often tempting to behave irresponsibly. You want to show off and show everyone around you that you can do a cool stunt. You want to drink and enjoy yourself. You don’t want to wear an uncomfortable, cumbersome flotation device. Unfortunately, these actions can put you in significant danger. They may also eliminate your ability to recover compensation for any injuries. That’s because Virginia is one of a very few states that follows the rule of “pure contributory negligence.” If another party can prove your negligent actions were the “proximate cause” of your own injury, you lose the legal right to recover compensation even if someone else’s negligence was also a cause.
After a Virginia Boating Accident, Can You Receive Compensation?
After a Virginia boating accident, you may have the right to recover compensation. Unlike motor vehicle owners, however, Virginia law does not require boat owners to carry insurance. While some marinas may require insurance to allow a boat to dock there, others—including private docks—do not implement penalties against boaters without insurance. This may mean that the individual responsible for your accident is personally responsible for paying any damages associated with the accident.
Some types of compensation victims of a boating accident may have the right to recover include:
- Medical expenses: Even if you have medical insurance, you may still incur substantial personal expense for medical treatment and rehabilitation after a boating accident. You may face bills for everything from your first trip to the hospital to the ongoing cost of physical therapy. You may have the right to recover these and similar medical expenses from the party responsible for causing a boating accident.
- Lost income. When injuries sustained in a boating accident cause you to miss work or leave you unable to return to work in your former capacity, you may have the right to receive compensation that reimburses you for the income you have lost or will be unable to earn in the future.
- Compensation for pain and suffering: The injuries you sustain in a boating accident may cause you significant pain and suffering while you recover. You may be entitled to compensation for this difficulty.
Complications of Seeking Compensation in Virginia Boating Accidents
If the party responsible for causing a boating accident does not carry insurance, that party may lack the funds to pay you the compensation you deserve. When insurance is available, however, or the party responsible has the means to pay damages, they may still try to avoid liability. Because of the pure contributory negligence rule mentioned above, these parties will have an incentive to blame the victim of the accident for contributing to his or her injuries. Insurance companies may also try to offer inadequate settlements, hoping to take advantage of vulnerable victims struggling with a sudden lack of income. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help protect victims of boating accidents from these tactics, and can do the work necessary to locate every potential source of payment for damages.
Hiring a Virginia Boating Accident Lawyer: What’s the Cost?
A boating accident lawyer can help you assess your boating accident and determine not just what compensation you should receive for your injuries, but also the amount of compensation you can reasonably expect to receive, given the circumstances. At Emroch & Kilduff, we offer all of our potential clients a free consultation to discuss whether we may be able to help. We have frequently represented clients on a contingent fee basis in which we only receive our fee if we are able to recover a settlement or judgment on for our client.
Injured in a Boat Accident? Get the Legal Help You Need.
After a Virginia boating accident, you may not be sure where to turn first, especially if your injuries were significant.
An experienced boating accident attorney can help you investigate the cause of the accident and determine how much compensation you may have a right to receive.