Houston Boat Accident Lawyer
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The Preeminent rated Texas personal injury attorneys at the Baumgartner Law Firm have been representing Texans seriously injured in boating accidents for over three decades.
Representing Boating Accident Victims in Texas
We have substantial experience in helping victims of boat accidents. Whether the injury happened with a pleasure boat, Jet Ski, personal watercraft, or commercial vessel, we understand complications of boat accident litigation and how to maximize personal injury recoveries.
Our top-rated personal injury lawyers have been maximizing your compensation claims for over three decades. Let our experienced boat accident lawyers help your family! Call (281) 587-1111.
The vast majority of Texas boating accidents are caused by negligence.
Texas is a boater’s paradise with the square miles of inland lakes of any state in the union. Additionally, our coastline provides many more recreational opportunities for Texas boaters.
Victims of boat accidents often have legal rights and options, and we offer a no-obligation consultation to answer questions and concerns after a boating accident. Wondering what to do after a boating accident? Call us! (281) 587-1111!
How Can Our Boat Accident Attorneys Help?
A Houston boating accident lawyer at Baumgartner Law Firm will help you with your accident case. Our nationally recognized personal injury law firm can answer your questions and take steps to protect your rights. We have been assisting victims in Texas for over three decades.
Initial investigations after a boat accident are a crucial step to help preserve your rights and options.
While the Parks and Wildlife Department generally investigates severe injury or wrongful death boat crashes, it’s essential to have your team analyze the cause of the accident.
Our boat accident attorneys will investigate your case and generally will:
- Evaluate legal responsibility
- Identify Insurance policies
- Speak with fact witnesses
- Use experts for liability and damages
- Conduct all negotiations with the insurers
- File a lawsuit when needed
Call an experienced lawyer in Texas for boating accidents. (281) 587-1111!
Negligence in Boating Accidents
Boat operators must follow local, state, and federal laws that apply. The TPWD works with the U.S. Coast Guard to enforce the law and provide search and rescue missions.
The law enforcement agency is often called the “Texas Navy.” Like vehicle accidents on land, boating accidents are often caused by negligence.
A negligent act is one that the operator knew or should have known, was unsafe, and could cause harm or injury to another.
Some of the most common causes of boating accidents include inexperience, inattention, reckless operation, speeding, operating while impaired, equipment failure, and weather. About half of the reported boating accidents were caused by intoxicated driving (BWI).
Many people enjoy drinking alcoholic beverages while they are on their boats. The boat’s operator should never be impaired due to alcohol or drugs. An irresponsible boater may be held responsible for an accident and any damages and injuries.
The boat owner or operator must provide a safe vessel, including safety vests for all passengers. The failure to do so could be considered a negligent act.
How Alcohol Impacts Boat Operation
According to BUI Initiatives, as little as three drinks can put someone under 160 pounds as legally under the influence to operate a boat in Texas.
According to the Coast Guard, a boat operator with a blood alcohol concentration above .08% – the legal threshold in Texas for those above 18 – is ten times more likely to be killed in a boating or jet ski accident than a person not drinking.
It is well known that drinking impairs one’s judgment and encourages risk-taking, which can be disastrous for those swimming in the water.
Swimmers can squirm out too far, can take chances diving in shallow water, or even not realize they are in danger until it’s too late. Alcohol is a big part of many drowning cases.
Fatal boating accidents involving alcohol use are at a rate higher than fatal car accidents. Almost 2/3 of fatal boating accidents involve alcohol use. Studies have shown that the chances of being in a boating accident are greatly enhanced by whether the operator drinks.
Just as alcohol impacts a driver’s ability to control a car, it also affects a boater’s judgment leading to tragic consequences.
Designate a driver for your boat, keep your passengers safe, and enjoy the summer for years to come.
What is Required After a Boat Accident in Texas?
According to Section 31.104 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, an operator of a boat after an accident is required to:
- Render assistance to other people as may be practical and necessary
- Exchange names, addresses, and identification of the boat in writing to any person injured or the owner of any property damaged in a boat accident.
Additionally, a boat accident must be reported to the department within 30 days of the accident with appropriate information. If the boat accident results in death, the incident must be reported within 48 hours.
Rules That Apply To Boating in Texas
Often, boat accidents are caused by inexperienced operators. Mandatory boat operator education is required for anyone born after September 1, 1993, to operate a personal watercraft and certain motorboats.
Children younger than 13 years of age must wear a life jacket while in a boat that is less than 26 feet in length.
Right-of-way and other rules apply to boat accidents as they do to car accidents in the state of Texas.
Boat Accident Statistics in Texas
Since Southeast Texas is not the only host to the Gulf of Mexico but is also home to many other waterways, it is no surprise that boating is a favorite pastime for Texans.
This outdoor activity not only allows one to enjoy the fresh air and Texas’ waterways but also allows one to relax. However, this relaxation and enjoyment of the water can often lead to serious consequences.
According to the Coast Guard, in one year alone, an estimated 4,062 accidents involved 560 deaths. And there were approximately 2,620 injuries, resulting in an estimated $39 million of damages because of recreational boating accidents.
Moreover, the research also indicates that, when it came to recreational vessels, the fatality rate was 4.7 deaths per 100,000 individuals.
Despite the recent slight decrease in boating accident deaths, one should still be aware of the facts.
Boating Accident Facts
- In cases where the cause of death was known, 77% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of the individuals who drowned, 84% were reported to not have a life jacket on during the incident.
- Only 20% of all deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction. Additionally, only 13% of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction from a NASBLA-approved course provider.
- An estimated 8 out of every ten drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.
- Operator inattention, improper lookout, inexperience, excessive speed, and machinery failure are the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
- Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 16% of deaths.
- Twenty-two children under age thirteen lost their lives while boating in one year. Eight or approximately 36% of the children died from drowning. Two children, or 25% of those who drowned, were wearing a life jacket as state and federal law required.
- Where data was known, the most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (46%), personal watercraft (18%), and cabin motorboats (17%).
As one can see, there are many ways that accidents and fatalities related to recreational boating activities can be lessened. For instance, one of the most important ways is proper training of the operator and obeying all laws.
It is essential to ensure that life jackets are worn when boating and should always be on board to prevent accidental drowning.
Reporting A Boat Accident
Boating accidents may occur with any vessel, including motorboats, jet skis, canoes, kayaks, pontoon boats, sailboats, and other vessels.
An accident is an event or series of events that cause property damage, injury, or death. The U.S. Coast Guard lists some of the most common types of accidents as:
- Hitting a fixed object
- Collision with another vessel
- Running over floating objects, including swimmers
- Running aground, sinking or flooding
- Fire or explosion
- Mishaps that involve a person on a towable object
- Someone falling overboard
The U.S. Coast Guard indicates that most boating accidents involve negligence. Also, Federal law requires the boat operator to report a boating accident any time the accident results in a personal injury, fatality, or damage to property of more than $2,000. Or when a boat is destroyed and a person aboard a vessel goes missing. A problem in Texas is people behind the boat’s wheel who are inexperienced in its safe operation. Especially when the Texas legislature required training, the fact remains that people operating boats without proper training cause a good number of accidents.
Jet Skiing Accidents in Texas
The ecstasy, adrenaline rush, and excitement that come from operating a Jet Ski on a hot day are unparalleled. Jet Skiers in Texas can find several places to enjoy their favorite water sport. J.P. Luby Surf Park, North Packery Channel Jetty in Corpus Christi, Lake Travis, and Lake Conroe are a few of the areas where you can enjoy your Jet Ski.
Unfortunately, collisions can also happen, resulting in severe injury and damage. Personal watercrafts such as Jet Skis are popular across the United States, and each year, they are involved in recreational boat accidents. Besides Jet Ski, other personal watercraft brands include Ski-Doo and Waverunner.
What to Do After a Jet Ski Accident
After a Jet Ski accident, the injury lawyers at Baumgartner Law Firm recommend taking the following steps.
Get to Safety: If you’re still out in the water, getting to safety should be your top priority. Contact the rental service or emergency rescue services around you.
See a Doctor: Even if you escape with minimal physical injury, it’s essential to visit a doctor for a checkup.
Compensation for Jet Ski Accidents in Texas
Compensation after a Jet Ski accident varies depending on several factors such as:
- Medical expenses due to injury
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of wages due to the accident
Each case is different, and we advise that you contact your personal injury attorney at Baumgartner Law Firm for proper legal representation. With an experienced lawyer by your side, you can also fight for additional damages for long-term pain and suffering, medical expenses, and loss of income.
Proving Negligence or Liability In A Jet Skiing Accident
However, establishing negligence and liability is the challenging part after a personal watercraft accident in Texas waters. Several factors need to be considered to find the responsible party.
- Was the operator appropriately skilled to operate the vessel?
- Did the operator’s actions or inaction cause the accident?
- Did the victim sign a liability waiver before taking the Jet Ski?
- Did the Jet Ski malfunction and cause the accident?
In most Jet Ski accidents, there is usually an “assumption of risk” since the operator or renter consciously chooses to rent a vessel and operate one while fully aware of the potential danger.
Liability waivers also complicate the situation further because they’re created to protect the Jet Ski owner. In most cases, the waiver protects the owner from being sued after a renter is injured. However, when the accident occurs due to the owner or manufacturer’s fault, the liability waivers may be ineffective.
Our injury attorneys at Baumgartner Law Firm help you navigate these situations and file a claim against the liable party.
Enforcement of Boating Laws in Texas
The Texas Game Wardens provides professional water law enforcement, search and rescue, and water safety coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard-recognized national standards.
The Texas Game Wardens are part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Law Enforcement Division and are commonly referred to as the ‘Texas Navy.’ They are tasked with enforcing the Texas Water Safety Act, which includes several requirements and rules that boaters must follow.
Boating accidents can also include jet skis in places like Lake Conroe.
If you have lost a family member, or have a loved one severely injured in a boating or Jet Ski accident, call us to discuss your rights and options. We charge nothing for an initial case consultation.
Contact A Houston Boat Accident Attorney
One of the biggest problems in Texas is people getting behind the wheel of the boat who are inexperienced in its safe operation.
Even with Texas requiring training, people operating boats without proper training cause many accidents. Call our boat accident lawyers in Texas at Baumgartner Law Firm and speak with one of the best personal injury lawyers in Houston to learn about your rights and options after a serious boating accident.
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