Boating Accident Attorney

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Boating Accident Cases

Brien Roche

Boating accident cases may be controlled by maritime law. This depends on where the event takes place. It also depends on the facts of the event.

Boating Accident Injuries

A boating accident can result in severe injuries. They involve personal water craft and wave runners. They may involve other types of small vessels. I have been a boater most of my life. I have owned both sailboats and motorboats.

In handling these types of claims you must know the administrative regulations as well as U. S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules.

Key Questions In Any Boating Accident Investigation

  • Does admiralty jurisdiction apply?  This depends on many things. Is the waterway a highway for interstate commerce? Did the event pose a potential hazard to maritime commerce? Did it arise out of activity that bears a substantial relationship to traditional maritime activity? If the answers are Yes then maritime jurisdiction may apply.  Such a case can be brought in federal court.
  • To what extent does state law apply?  State law may supplement maritime law. For this to be the case state law must not conflict with maritime. In addition it must not interfere with the uniform working of the maritime legal system
  • Should the case be filed in federal or state court?  If filed in federal court and maritime jurisdiction controls, then there may be no right to a jury trial.
  • Is the plaintiff potentially a seaman under the Jones Act?  If so, then that plaintiff may have special rights.
  • If the case involves a wrongful death which occurred more than three nautical miles offshore, then it may be governed by the Death on the High Seas Act.  On the other hand, dependents of nonseamen killed in state territorial waters may bring a wrongful death action that is governed by state law.
  • Does the Limitation of Vessel Owner’s Liability Act apply?  If so, then there may be special limitations on the amount of recovery.
  • Was the operator of the boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
  • Did the operator act in compliance with the Virginia Administrative Code dealing with the safe operation of boats?
  • Was there excessive speed involved?
  • Was there an improper turn that caused the injury?

Personal Watercraft Accidents

A personal watercraft (PWC) is a gasoline operated boat which does not have a propeller. Instead it uses a water jet pump to pull water in and then spit it out. This propulsion is like an aircraft jet engine. The PWC is powered and steered by the water jet. There is no rudder.  There are hazards that are peculiar to PWCs.

  • The PWC loses directional control when the throttle is released.  As a result, the PWC becomes like a torpedo. It heads in the last direction of thrust until it stops on its own or it strikes an object.  It is only when the operator maintains throttle that he maintains control.
  • There have been reports where the operator fell backward off the vessel and was eviscerated by the high pressure stream of water that powers the vehicle.

If you have been involved in a boating accident contact us. We have experience serving the watercraft accident needs of our Fairfax, Va. and Washington D.C. clients.

Also see boats on this site for a review of Virginia case law.  Also see the page on Wikipedia for information on boats.

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Boating Accident Attorney

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

    Contact Us For A Free Consultation