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Recreational Boat Accidents
Speed boat in the water
Getting an attorney involved early is vital to protect key evidence and help you receive maximum compensation.

Virginia Recreational Boat Accident Attorneys

Virginia boasts more than 52,225 miles of river, 132 miles of coastline, 7,213 miles of tidal shore, and more than 116,000 acres of inland lakes. With an abundance of places for people to enjoy the water, it’s no surprise so many take advantage of the numerous boating opportunities.

Boating is a beloved pastime along Virginia’s picturesque coasts and waterways for many people who live in or visit the Commonwealth. Sadly, all days do not end with fond memories. Sometimes, those carefree outings suddenly turn and become devastating boating accidents.

According to statistics reported by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, in 2022, there were 87 boating accidents, with 17 of those resulting in fatalities. If you or a loved one have been in a boating accident in Virginia, you need a skilled maritime lawyer to help navigate your case. Contact Montagna Maritime at 877-622-8100 to schedule a free consultation.

Most Common Types of Boating Accidents in Virginia

Unfortunately, boating accidents claim lives, and some maritime tragedies occur more often than others. Recreational boating accidents happen more often than we would like to think. Common types of boating accidents in Virginia include:

  • Drownings
  • Collisions between two or more vessels
  • Flooding on a vessel
  • Casualties when a swimmer goes toward an undocked vessel
  • Explosions/fires
  • Passengers falling overboard

Other common maritime accidents include towing mishaps involving jet skis, wakeboards, and other recreational items.

Common Causes of Boating Accidents in Virginia

Boating accidents occur in a number of ways related to boat drivers, weather, or environmental conditions. Top causes include:

  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Operator inattention
  • Excessive speed
  • Improper navigation
  • Driver error
  • Operator inexperience
  • Passenger behaviors
    Crashes with other water vessels
  • Collisions with fixed objects
  • Rough or hazardous waters
  • Bad weather
  • Grounding
  • Waterskiing accidents

Other causes include equipment failure, overloading, congested waters, or ignition of fuel. Driving carefully, educating boat occupants about safe behavior, and performing regular maintenance and inspections of vessels can go a long way toward preventing accidents.

Most Common Injuries From Boating Accidents

Accidents occurring on Virginia’s waters can lead to serious injury or wrongful death. Common conditions victims suffer include:

  • Drowning
  • Broken bones
  • Lacerations
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Electrocutions
  • Amputations
  • Soft tissue injuries

One of the most difficult realities associated with injuries sustained during a boating accident is that many boating accidents could have been prevented by being proactive about boating safety. Sadly, 94 percent of boating fatalities happen to people not wearing floatation devices.

What to Do if Your Boat is in an Accident in Virginia

Like other types of accidents, boat accidents tend to happen when you least expect them. If you experience an incident, you should take specific steps immediately.

  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you don’t feel hurt.
  • If injuries are present, report the accident to Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources.
  • Collect contact information from the other party, if applicable.
  • Take photos and/or video of the accident scene and any injuries.
  • Document the details of the incident, including:
    • Date and time of the accident
    • Type of the other boat
    • Whether life jackets were available and being worn
    • Physical injuries
    • Property damage
    • Evidence of intoxication
    • Estimated speeds of boats involved
    • Other pertinent details
  • Obtain contact information from eyewitnesses.
  • Contact law enforcement or the U.S. Coast Guard if necessary.
  • File an accident report if there is no police report.
  • File a boat accident injury claim.

One of the most important steps to take is to call an experienced attorney who understands the intricacies of maritime law. Maritime law differs from traditional personal injury law, so a car accident lawyer is insufficient. You need a lawyer well-versed in maritime law. Your lawyer will help you through the steps, including important legal requirements set forth by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Call Montagna Maritime today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Virginia boat accident lawyer.

When is a Virginia Boat Operator Required to Submit an Accident Report?

speedboat sinking

Virginia has specific rules associated with boating accidents when certain circumstances are present. You are required by law to file a formal, written report with the Department of Wildlife Resources if the following is applicable:

  • Property damage more than $2,000
  • Injury requiring medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Loss of life
  • Disappearance of any person on board a vessel

Notifications to different Virginia state agencies must be filed in the event of death or a person’s disappearance resulting from an accident.

What Happens If You Don’t Report a Boating Accident?

Virginia imposes severe consequences for individuals who neglect to report an accident requiring formal notifications. For instance, if you do not file as stipulated by law, you can be charged with a Class 4 misdemeanor. Other criminal charges may be imposed depending upon circumstances and your actions during and after the incident. To protect yourself, consult an experienced Virginia maritime lawyer immediately and avoid missing important reporting deadlines.

How Many Days Do You Have to Report a Boating Accident in Virginia?

The Commonwealth designates specific periods of time to report boating accidents occurring on Virginia waters.

  • 48 hours if loss of life occurs within 24 hours of the boating accident
  • 48 hours if an individual is injured and cannot perform usual activities
  • 48 hours if a person disappears
  • 10 days if an earlier report was not required but becomes necessary due to events in the aftermath of the maritime accident
  • 10 days if boat or property damage exceeds $2,000 or results in total vessel loss

You can obtain boating accident forms from the State of Virginia or other law enforcement agencies. Submit them in person or mail to:

Law Enforcement Division — Boating Accident
Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
P.O. Box 90778
Henrico, VA 23228

At this time, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources does not accept reports over the phone or electronically via email or text message. You must file in person or send the report via mail.

Who is Liable in a Boating Accident in Virginia?

Not just boat operators may be held responsible for injuries and damages sustained in a watercraft-related accident. Other liable parties may also be responsible for paying for your medical expenses or other damages. In addition to boaters, liability may fall on boat owners, manufacturers, or employers. Essentially, any potentially responsible parties that apply to car and truck accidents or other types of accidents may carry negligence if proven.

What Kind of Damages Can I Recover From My Virginia Boating Accident?

Boat sinking into the harbor

The aftermath of a boating injury accident can be traumatizing and full of uncertainty. You might suffer serious injuries and, as a result, be left with high medical costs. You might be out of work and have no idea when or if you can return. Pain and suffering may be a part of your day-to-day life.

After a Virginia boating accident, you can pursue damages for both economic losses and non-economic losses. Economic losses are expenses where you can show financial loss. Non-economic losses are those not as easily determined but still have value where compensation is concerned, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of consortium.

A knowledgeable Virginia maritime lawyer can help estimate your total amount of damages and help determine how much your personal injury claim is worth. The statute of limitations on personal injury cases in Virginia is two years, so act quickly to protect your claim.

How a Virginia Boat Accident Lawyer Can Help You

Boat accidents can quickly become complex cases. Working with a knowledgeable and experienced Virginia boat accident attorney can significantly increase your chances of obtaining compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.

Accidents on the water require attorneys with experience in maritime law since these cases are handled very differently than accidents occurring on land. Typically, a personal injury attorney or car accident lawyer is unprepared to handle maritime accident cases. When you work with Montagna Law, your case will be handcrafted by an attorney with the maritime knowledge and experience needed to pursue a Virginia boat accident case.

Montagna Law has extensive experience when it comes to maritime law. Every client relationship is very important to us, and our law firm prioritizes high-quality customer service. You will always have access to your personal injury lawyer, and our staff will always treat you well. We have extensive knowledge of all types of personal injury cases and strive to deliver sound legal advice to all our clients.

We’ll Help You Navigate Your Case

If you or a loved one are boat accident victims, Montagna Law has the experience and knowledge you need to file a personal injury claim against the negligent party responsible for your injuries. We can navigate the complexities put forth by insurance companies and help you file any required reports. To learn more about how Montagna Law can support you, contact our law firm at 877-622-8100 or, if you prefer, fill out our convenient online contact form. We’re happy to provide a free case evaluation.

Award-Winning Maritime Law Firm

  • American Institute of Personal injury attorneys 10 best law firm award
  • NAOPIA Top 10 Attorney 2022 award
  • American Association of Attorney advocates Top 10 Award
  • The National Trial Lawyer Top 100
  • top 10 personal injury attorney award from Attorney and practice magazines
  • 10 best attorneys client satisfaction
  • Lawyers of distinction 2022