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West Virginia Boat Accident Attorneys

boating accidents

Tourism is vital to Charleston and the economy throughout West Virginia. It contributes billions of dollars each year to our state’s gross domestic product. Much of these dollars are spent on boating recreation. Our state is blessed with beautiful lakes, rivers and streams. It’s an ideal place for those who enjoy using motor boats and Jet Skis as well as canoeing, kayaking and whitewater rafting.

boating accident lawyerAs popular as boating is in West Virginia, it is important to remember that it can be a dangerous activity, too. Some risks may be inherent. However, many other risks are created by those who act carelessly or recklessly. Victims of these types of boating accidents have a right to seek a full recovery for the physical, mental and financial harm they suffer.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident caused by another person’s negligence, the lawyers of Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, can help you. We have more than 35 years of combined legal experience and a strong record of obtaining positive results for clients.

We work with both West Virginia residents as well as those who were hurt while visiting our state.  Contact us today to learn more. Our consultations are free.

What Types of Boating Accidents Happen in West Virginia?

As the most recent U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) boating accident statistics show, boating carries serious risks. In one recent year in the U.S., the USCG reports that 4,064 boating accidents occurred, resulting in:

  • 610 deaths
  • 2,678 injuries
  • Approximately $39 million in property damage.

boating accident statistics

Over a recent five-year period, 99 reported boating accidents occurred in West Virginia alone, including 23 accidents that resulted in deaths, the USCG reports.

When we think of boating accidents, we tend to think that they only involve high-speed motor boats and Jet Skis. There is a good reason for that. Data shows that those vessels are the ones most commonly involved in boating accidents.

However, serious and fatal injuries can also be suffered in accidents that involve canoes, kayaks and whitewater rafts – especially in a state such as West Virginia where such activities are extremely popular and a huge tourist draw.

According to the USCG, the top 10 known primary contributing factors in boating accidents in the U.S. in one recent year were:

Contributing FactorAccidentsDeathsInjuries
Operator inattention56338370
Improper lookout43126321
Operator inexperience39144256
Excessive speed28223267
Alcohol use277108248
Machinery failure2551482
Navigation rules violation18614147
Hazardous waters1855590
Weather1744578
Force of wave/wake1533142

boating injury attorney
As you can see, many of those causes are not “inherent risks.” They are examples of careless conduct. Alcohol use, in particular, is a concern. Just like drunk driving on land, drunk boating can wreak havoc in the water. In fact, the USCCG reports that alcohol use is the leading cause of deadly boating accidents.

Drowning and near-drowning are common consequences of boating accidents. However, many other types of injuries can result, including fractures, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and soft tissue injuries. Burns can also result from accidents that trigger fires and explosions.

Who Can You Sue for a Boating Accident in West Virginia?

If you have been injured in a boating accident in West Virginia that was caused by another person’s negligence or recklessness, an attorney from Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, can help you to review your legal options.

Depending on the facts of your boating accident case, you may be able to take action against parties that include:

  • The boat owner / operator – West Virginia boating regulations set a standard of care that boat owners and operators must follow. These regulations cover areas such as how a boat should be operated and how it should be equipped. They also govern the operation of boats by children and, in some cases, mandate adult supervision. A boat owner’s or operator’s violation of these regulations could lead to liability.
  • Boat rental company – In some cases, a boat or Jet Ski (personal watercraft, or PWC) may be rented for the day. The company who rents out vessels must ensure they are safely equipped (including providing life jackets). They must also ensure that renters undergo a safety orientation session. A boat rental company may be held liable if an accident is caused by the neglect of its legal duties.
  • Tour guide – Numerous whitewater tour guides, in particular, can be found today in West Virginia. They must comply with the duties established by the Whitewater Responsibility Act. Those duties include conforming to “the standard of care expected of members of their profession.” A tour guide should be held accountable if an injury is caused by its failure to meet this standard.
  • Vessel manufacturer – As you can see above, “machinery failure” is one of the leading causes of boating accidents. Of course, in many cases, this failure can be traced to a boat owner’s negligent inspection and maintenance of a boat. However, a boat may also be dangerous due to a design or manufacturing defect. It is important to hold manufacturers responsible for dangerous products.

Get Help Today from Experienced West Virginia Boat Accident Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident in West Virginia, do not wait to get legal help. It is important to investigate the accident right away and take legal steps to protect your rights. You can seek full compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other harm. The personal injury lawyers of Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, are available to help you today. Simply call or reach us online for a free review of your case.

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