Jet skis or personal watercraft are some of the most dangerous vessels on the water. Numerous jet ski accidents are reported because these machines are fast and unstable. They are often driven by young and inexperienced riders.
Jet skis can be great fun on the waters off Hampton, Chesapeake Bay, or Virginia Beach. However, you should treat them with care. You should operate them like other boats. Unfortunately, many states lack adequate laws to govern how jet skis or PWCs are operated.
We see some terrible injuries cause by jet ski accidents. Riders often suffer broken limbs, back and head injuries, burns and joint damage. In some cases, victims drowned. Reckless jet ski users place other boaters and swimmers at risk. If you or a family member has been injured on the water, please contact our Hampton personal injury lawyers as soon as possible.
What are the Rules to Prevent Jet Ski Injuries in Virginia?
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries sets out rules relating to jet skis in the Commonwealth.
As of July 2009, the department made it mandatory for all riders 20 and younger must complete a boater safety course.
The dangers were highlighted in the 2003 boating accident statistics in Virginia, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries points out.
While personal watercraft comprised just over 10 percent of all registered boats, they were involved in 22.6 percent of all boating accidents in Virginia that year. Although no newer statistics are available, jet skis remain popular and the accidents have continued.
“As a fast growing segment of boating, both in Virginia and the nation, personal watercraft operators need to become more safety conscious through personal responsibility,” the department stated on its website.
What are the Most Common Injuries from Jet Ski Accidents in Virginia?
Jet ski accidents often cause extreme injuries. These vessels operate at a high speed and riders have little protection. The main injuries include:
- Head Injuries and concussions: Mild traumatic head injuries like concussions are one of the most common jet ski injuries. Riders of personal water craft seldom wear head protection, nor is it mandatory. If they are thrown off their jet ski, they may hit the water or an obstacle hard. A concussion in the water can be particularly hazardous, leading to disorientation and drowning.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: It’s not uncommon for jet ski riders to end up paralyzed after a serious accident. The high speeds involved in jet ski crashes can put extreme force on the spine.
- Arm and leg fractures: Often a rider will seek to break his or her fall by putting out a hand or a leg. Wrist and ankle fractures are common in jet ski accidents as well as serious sprains.
- Burn injuries: In some cases, crashes cause jet skis to ignite. The rider or other parties may suffer serious burn injuries. Riders have been killed during fueling accidents in Hampton Roads.
Tips for Safe Jet Ski Use in Virginia
Many people who are injured or killed in jet ski accidents act recklessly or fail to follow the rules. Often swimmers or other boaters end up as victims of riders.
- Don’t Drink Alcohol on the Water: Many people think differently about drinking alcohol on the water than on the roads. However, the rules are the same. Drinking alcohol can be hazardous on the water, especially for jet ski riders operating at high speeds.
- Wear a Lifejacket: Always wear a lifejacket when you are out on the water. Rivers and the ocean can be unforgiving places. Even advanced swimmers can drown if they are out on the water for a long time.
- Maintain Your Watercraft: People who own their own personal watercraft should maintain it before hitting the water. Failing to check the gas tank is full or the battery is working can leave you stranded on the water and pose dangers to other boaters.
- Slow Down: Excess speed is a major cause of jet ski crashes. Make sure to maintain a safe speed and keep distance between yourself and other boaters.
- Don’t race or play games: Many deadly jet ski crashes are caused by reckless riders, racing or other irresponsible behavior. A jet ski is a dangerous piece of equipment not a toy.
Liability for Accidents Involving Rented Jet Skis
Many people who go out on jet skis rent them. If a jet ski is badly maintained or defective, the rental company can he held liable for accidents on the water. There have also been cases of product liability lawsuits against manufacturers for defectively designed personal watercraft.
Contact a Virginia Jet Ski Accident Attorney
The lawyers at the Smith Law Center have represented many people hurt at sea and on the waters in maritime injury cases. We have also helped injured boaters on Virginia’s inland waterways. If you or a family member has been hurt in a boating accident please contact our experienced team at 757.244.7000.