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little boy in a life vest boating with his family as water splashes along side of the vessel
Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp
(833) 997-1774

Summer has arrived, which means that many residents and visitors to the Virginia Beach area will be enjoying water activities, including canoeing, fishing, jet skiing, and water skiing, or just relaxing on the deck of a pontoon boat. Unfortunately, this also means that there will be boating accidents that take place in the state, and tragically, some of those victims will die. If you or a loved one is hurt in a boating accident, you may be unsure who is liable for damages, especially if the boat was rented. A Virginia Beach boat accident attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help.

Causes of Boating Accidents

According to national statistics gathered by the U.S. Coast Guard, 3,844 boating accidents last year resulted in 646 deaths. Another 2,126 victims suffered injuries.

Last year, there were 59 boating accidents in Virginia, resulting in eight fatalities and another 39 injured victims.

There are a number of reasons why boating accidents occur. The most common include:

Operator Distraction

Distracted driving is becoming as much of an issue for boat operators as for vehicle drivers. A boat operator must stay focused on navigating the boat, watching for water depth, weather, and other potential hazards.

Boating Under the Influence

Operating a boat while under the influence is just as illegal as operating a vehicle and can result in criminal charges, fines, and even jail time. It is also one of the leading causes of boat accidents.

Operator Inexperience

The Coast Guard cites operator inexperience as one of the top causes of boating accidents.


It is just as important to have enough time to react when operating a boat as it is when operating a car. If a boat operator fails to maintain safe speeds, they may be unable to maneuver their boat in time to avoid a tragedy, such as hitting another boat, jet ski, or swimmer.

Waves or Wakes

A wake is when water is disturbed by the force of a boat’s hull or by other boats close by. If a boat operator is unprepared or unsure of how to navigate their boat through a wake or waves, the boat can crash into other boats or even capsize.

Failure to Have a Lookout

It takes all of a boat operator’s focus and attention to safely navigate a boat. This is why they should always have a second person with them to be on the lookout for any hazards or dangers that could be around. If the operator fails to have someone as a lookout or the lookout fails to pay attention, the results can be tragic.

Equipment Failure

A boat owner – just like a vehicle owner – should always make sure their vessel is in good working order. Any time an operator gets on the boat, even if it is one they are renting, they should always do a thorough safety check to make sure that all systems are working.

Weather Conditions

Never go out on a boat without checking the weather conditions, even if the skies look sunny. Also, make sure to keep an eye out for weather alerts. A beautiful sunny sky can quickly darken with storm clouds without any warning.

Call Our Personal Injury Law Firm for Legal Help

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, you may be able to file a boating accident claim to pursue damages for any losses you sustain because of your injuries. These losses can include medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and more. Establishing liability for a boat accident can be complex, but a seasoned Virginia boat accident attorney can help.

Contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to find out how we can help you get the financial compensation you deserve, like the $150,000 insurance settlement we obtained for one client who suffered several severe injuries when the charter fishing boat on which he was a passenger ran aground in the Oregon Inlet.



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