The Commonwealth of Virginia, with its beautiful coastline and hundreds of navigable lakes, rivers, and streams, offers myriad opportunities for spending time on the water in a boat or personal watercraft. Unfortunately, boating is such a popular pastime that maritime accidents are a frequent occurrence on the Commonwealth’s waterways.

If you have been involved in a boat accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation for any injuries you suffered. A Staunton boat accident lawyer could analyze the circumstances and determine whether you have a good case. If so, you could get money damages from the person who caused the accident. Let an experienced personal injury lawyer help you today.

Virginia Law Bars Recovery for Responsible Parties

Virginia is unusual in that it retains the doctrine of contributory negligence. In simple terms, this means that anyone who has any responsibility for an accident will be unable to recover damages from any other party whose negligence contributed to the accident. Contributory negligence can lead to unfair results–a person who is just one percent responsible for an accident will not recover damages from the person who is 99 percent at fault.

In certain circumstances, bringing a lawsuit seeking damages for boat accident injuries using federal maritime law, rather than Commonwealth law, may be an option. Under maritime law, comparative negligence applies. That means that anyone less than 50 percent responsible for an accident can claim damages from a party with more responsibility, and the claimant’s award will reflect their apportioned liability.

After a boat accident, the other party’s insurance company is likely to try to pin some responsibility on a claimant. An experienced legal professional who represents boat accident victims in Staunton could assess whether pursuing damages is likely to succeed in a particular case.

If a Boat Accident Causes Death, the Family May Seek Damages

It is a horrible fact that when boat accidents occur, death often results. If negligent boating caused an accident in which a person died, money damages might be available to the victim’s family.

Money cannot make up for the permanent loss of a loved one, but it can relieve financial stress and offer the satisfaction that comes with holding a responsible party accountable. In a wrongful death action, Virginia Code §8.01-52 says the decedent’s loved ones may seek damages for:

  • Sorrow and anguish over the death of the loved one, including loss of the decedent’s comfort, advice, and companionship
  • Any financial contribution the decedent made or would have made to the family in the future
  • Medical expenses for the injuries which led to the death
  • Funeral and burial expenses

In a situation in which the conduct that led to the death was intentional, or so reckless that the defendant deserves punishment, the law offers juries the option to award punitive damages. However, Virginia law limits a plaintiff’s recovery to $350,000 in punitive damages.

Let a Staunton Boat Accident Lawyer Help You Move Forward

A serious accident can impact every aspect of life: your health, your job, and even your family relationships. Being hounded by aggressive insurance company lawyers is the last thing you need as you try to put your life back together.

You have only a limited time to file a lawsuit, so contacting a seasoned Staunton boat accident lawyer immediately after an accident may be the smartest thing you could do for yourself. Allowing an attorney to guide you through the process might make a fair settlement more likely. Call The Warren Firm today to discuss your situation with an attorney who is passionate about helping boat accident victims.