Virginia has a significant coastline to the east and a few lakes that make boating a common pastime. Heading out onto the water on a beautiful day can be relaxing and exhilarating, whether you throw out a fishing line or hitch skis to the back. Unfortunately, you, your friends, and your family may have intended to have a great day, only to endure a serious accident on the water.

If you were hurt in a boating accident due to another?s recklessness, we recommend calling Lugar Law PC to speak with a boating accident lawyer. If the boat?s operator or someone in another vessel is to blame for your injuries, we can guide you through recovering compensation.

Contact us online or call (540) 384-0348 to schedule a free consultation with Lugar Law PC.

Virginia Boating Laws

Not just anyone can get behind the wheel of a boat. There are some age and educational requirements.

Minimum Age Requirements

To operate a personal watercraft (PWC), one must be at least 16 years old. 14 or 15-year-olds can also operate a PWC, if they complete and pass a boating safety course.

For motorboats, there is no minimum operator age, but a boating course is required. Similarly, there is not a minimum required age to attend and complete a boating safety course. However, it is difficult and rare for a child under 12 years to pass a course. There is no bar, however, for a child to operate a boat under the guidance of an adult who passed the boating safety course.

Boating Safety Course Requirement & Exceptions

Ten horsepower engines or greater operators of boats there is no age limit, and PWC operators who are 14 years or older must complete a boating safety course.

The operator must carry their boater education card with them when operating a boat or PWC.

The exceptions to the safety course requirement include, if you:

  • Have a license to operate a vessel issued by the U.S. Coast Guard;
  • Are a Virginia Registered Commercial Fisherman;
  • Are or have been a surface warfare officer or specialist in the U.S. Navy;
  • Serve or qualify as a boat officer or boat or watercraft operator in the U.S. Army, Coast Guard, or Merchant Marines; or
  • Are operating a boat registered in another state and meet the requirements of that state.

This is one point of analysis is to determine whether the individual at-fault for the accident should have operated the vessel. When you are a boat accident victim, you will most likely want to explore this first. A boating accident lawyer at Lugar Law PC will investigate the boat operator?s qualifications, experience, and boating history.

Types of Boating Accidents

Our boat accident attorneys represent individuals hurt in all kinds of accidents, including:

  • Multiple Boat Collisions: We are here to represent you when another boat collides with your own and causes you serious injuries.
  • Boat Collisions with Objects: If the operator of your boat collided with a fixed object and caused you harm, give us a call.
  • Capsizing: We can represent you if the vessel you were on capsized due to negligent operation, equipment failure, or negligent maintenance.
  • Falling Overboard: We can represent individuals or surviving family members of those who fell overboard due to careless or reckless operation of a boat.

Common Causes of Accidents on the Water

Boating accidents occur for various reasons, from manufacturing defects in a vessel to inebriated operators. Injured boaters should get in touch with us about investigating the injury. Whether you or a loved one suffered harm, you probably want to know what happened and why. You probably want to determine who is to blame and perhaps file a claim for compensation against the liable party.

At Lugar Law PC, we can investigate boating accidents in Virginia. We can handle accidents caused by:

  • Boat operator inattention
  • Inadequate lookout
  • Boat operator inexperienced
  • Boat operator lack of training or qualifications
  • Reckless operation
  • Defective equipment
  • Inadequate maintenance and repairs
  • Equipment malfunction or failure
  • Speeding
  • Boat Operator impairment by drugs or alcohol
  • Lack of appropriate safety equipment

Once we know what went wrong, we can recommend how to proceed:

  • If a boat operator was at fault, we might recommend a personal injury lawsuit against that individual.
  • If we discover the owner of the vessel failed to maintain and repair the boat properly, we may pursue compensation from that owner.
  • If we find a necessary piece of equipment had a design or manufacturing defect, we may recommend filing a product liability claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer.

We also will look for any relevant insurance policy. If your claim is against a business, there likely is a liability policy that covers your injuries. However, if your claim is against an individual boat owner or operator, they may lack helpful insurance coverage.

Virginia does not require boat owners to maintain liability insurance. The marina more than likely does have insurance or should.

Boating While Intoxicated

In Virginia, it is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. The standards that apply to drivers also apply to boat operators.

If you are injured in a boating accident, your boating accident attorney will investigate whether the operator was guilty of a BWI/BUI. This may be evidenced by the boat operator having controlled substances in their system or having a blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.08%. A boat operator also can be guilty of a BUI if they are visibly impaired due to alcohol, drugs, or both, even if they are not over the level limit.

When there is evidence the operator was impaired, this information can be used to pursue compensation for your injuries. Impairment while operating a boat is not only unlawful; it also is negligent: careless and/or reckless. Often, evidence of a BUI can be used to obtain an insurance settlement or court award.

Who Is Responsible for a Multiple Boat Collision?

It can be difficult to determine who was at fault for a collision. Which boat operator was negligent, or was it both? This is a particularly important question to answer if you were one of the boat operators.

Negligence means a person breached the required duty of care. If that negligence caused another person harm, an action for personal injury under tort can be pursued through filing a complaint with the appropriate jurisdiction and serving the proper parties involved. In most circumstances, people are required to act as a reasonably prudent person would under the same or similar circumstances. This requirement is known as the ordinary duty of care. When a boat operator fails to act reasonably and causes an accident, they have been negligent. Another way to think of negligence is carelessness or recklessness. If negligence can be established, that individual should be held accountable for the harm their carelessness caused.

To obtain compensation for boat accident injuries, you will need evidence of one or more boat operator?s negligence. This evidence may be documented by eye-witness testimony that the operator was speeding, violated a navigation rule, or was intoxicated.

If you were a passenger on a boat where a collision occurred, you might even have a claim against both the operator in your boat and the other operator. It depends on whether one or both operators were careless or reckless in causing the crash.

Contact a Boating Accident Lawyer Today

After being injured in a boating accident that was not your fault, it is important to speak with a lawyer who has experience handling boating collisions and other accidents. At Lugar Law PC, we have the knowledge and experience you need to deal with a boat accident claim.

We will thoroughly investigate the cause of the crash and identify the liable party. We will look for any relevant insurance policy, and if we find one, pursue a claim. If an insurance settlement is not possible, we will pursue full and fair compensation through the courts.

Our goal will be to obtain you the maximum compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability, mental distress, and more.

To schedule your free initial consultation, call (540) 384-0348, or use our online form.