Boating and Drinking is a Dangerous Combination, Virginia Personal Injury Law Firm Warns

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The personal injury attorneys of the Richmond-based law firm of Marks & Harrison say efforts such as this weekend’s Operation Dry Water and boating safety course requirements are helping to prevent Virginia catastrophic boating and jet ski accidents.

The Virginia personal injury lawyers of the Marks & Harrison law firm say they are encouraged by the state’s ramped up efforts to make boating and jet ski use safer.

The firm pointed to last weekend’s Operation Dry Water, an intensified Department of Game and Inland Fisheries effort to detect and deter boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and a law that will eventually require anyone who operates personal watercraft within Virginia, including a jet ski, to pass a boating safety course.

The increased enforcement and education efforts are needed, according to the Richmond-headquartered personal injury law firm, which represents victims and families who have been harmed in boating crashes and other vehicle accidents caused by the negligence of others, including Virginia wrongful death lawsuits.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is the most prevalent factor in fatal boating accidents that involve the country’s 12.4 million registered boats, causing 126 deaths and 293 injuries in 2010. Alcohol use, in fact, ranks above inattention, inexperience, excessive speed and improper lookout as boating crash factors, the U.S. Coast Guard statistics indicate.

In Virginia, alcohol use has played a role in 20 boating deaths since 2005 and caused 96 reported incidents, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Operation Dry Water was aimed at preventing alcohol-related boating accidents, injuries and deaths. Coordinated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the operation involved conservation officers setting up checkpoints and performing breath tests from June 24-26 on lakes and other waterways throughout the state.

Additionally, starting July 1, anyone age 50 and younger will need to complete a boating safety course in order to operate a personal watercraft in Virginia waters. If operators cannot provide proof to a conservation officer that they have taken the course, they could face a $100 fine. The law will apply to all ages by 2016.

The educational efforts are as important as the law enforcement crackdown, according to the Virginia injury lawyers of Marks & Harrison.

For instance, a boating safety course can drive home the point that alcohol consumption is especially dangerous when combined with the sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion encountered when boating or riding a jet ski. The combination can easily lead the vessel operator to lose control or fail to react to other boaters or swimmers.

When a reckless or negligent boater or jet ski rider causes injuries or deaths due to alcohol use, it is crucial to contact a Virginia personal injury lawyer who has experience with the unique issues that arise in alcohol or drug-related accidents, Marks & Harrison says.

In addition to proving liability, the law firm says that it is important to determine the extent of insurance coverage that the at-fault boater or personal watercraft operator has available to compensate victims for their medical costs, funeral expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering.

Those injured by negligent boaters should obtain a police report, get the names of the at-fault party and any eyewitnesses and contact an attorney right away, according to the law firm.

About Marks & Harrison

Established in 1911, Marks & Harrison represents clients in a variety of different practice areas, including personal injury, wrongful death, car accidents, tractor trailer accidents, motorcycle accidents, alcohol/drug-related accidents and pedestrian injuries. The firm features eight offices located in the Virginia cities of Richmond, Petersburg, Louisa, Charlottesville, Tappahanock, Hopewell, Staunton and Fredericksburg. To learn more about the firm and your rights if you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, call (800) 283-2202 or use the firm’s online form.


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