Protecting Texas Children from Boating Injuries
Lakes Austin, Cedar Creek, Conroe, Lewisville, Travis, and Texoma, are just a few of the most popular bodies of water in Texas. Many families seek out cool waters for fun boating trips during the scorching summer season. However, boating is growing more dangerous, especially for young children. According to the latest statistics published by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas boating fatalities increased 40% in 2021. Sadly, many of these accidents could have been easily prevented.
Our knowledgeable Texas boating accident attorneys at The Button Law Firm are working to educate parents about the dangers of boating on Texas’ many lakes and the steps they can take to keep little ones safe while participating in this fun warm-weather activity.
How Can Children Get Hurt on Boats in Texas?
The three most common ways that children can be seriously hurt on boats in Texas:
- Drowning occurs when young passengers fall overboard, when a boat capsizes, or when a child passenger becomes trapped in the water and is unable to swim to the shore. The unpredictable waves from the many watercrafts on a lake and murky waters can be difficult for even the strongest swimmers to navigate, and the reason why drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional deaths among children ages 1 to 4 in Texas.
- Injuries sustained from a boat crash. When two boats collide, a boat hits a fixed object, or when a boat runs aground, the harsh jolts and strong rippling waves can seriously hurt little ones on board a boat. Children can experience traumatic brain injuries (TBI), broken bones, lacerations or deep cuts from sharp objects during a collision, neck injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
- Heatstroke can happen when a child’s body temperature rises above its normal range due to exposure to high temperatures, such as an ideal day to seek solace at a lake or the Gulf of Mexico. The condition can happen fairly quickly, with younger children at a higher risk, as it is among the leading causes of non-crash-related deaths among children younger than 15, according to Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
Children can also experience carbon monoxide poisoning when a boat’s exhaust system is not properly functioning or when they are allowed to swim near the boat’s exhaust. This silent killer can be mistaken for common cold or flu symptoms, and affects a child’s brain and heart the most.
In the event a child gets hurt while on a boat in Texas, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible and to contact the authorities such as the local police department’s lake patrol unit or marine safety patrol to report the incident. You can also call the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at 800-792-1112 or call the agency’s 24-hour dispatch at 512-389-4848.
What Are Common Boats That Can Children Get Hurt on?
Accidents can occur on any type of watercraft when enjoying the many bodies of water across Texas. No boats are safe. Accidents harming children can occur on any type of watercraft:
- Cabin motorboats
- Jet skis
- Open motorboats
- Privately owned boats
- Small cruises such as dinner or sightseeing cruises
- Speed boats
- Tour boats
How Can Boat Owners and Operators Prevent Children’s Injuries?
Negligent behaviors while operating a boat, such as boating while drinking, not paying attention, and excessive speeding, are responsible for a majority of the boating accidents in Texas. Fortunately, ramped-up patrols and boater education outreach programs have helped reduce the number of boating accidents in Texas by 43%, according to a 2022 report from Texas Parks and Wildlife.
It is important for boat operators and passengers to be aware of the risks associated with being on one of Texas’ many waterways and to take steps to prevent boating accidents from occurring. Other measures passengers, including children, can take to be safe aboard a boat or watercraft include:
- Being aware of one's surroundings at all times on the water and having a trained lookout
- Complying with boater safety guidelines such as not drinking any alcohol, traveling at safe speeds, and monitoring weather conditions
- Ensuring there’s an ample supply of drinking water for boat operators and passengers, especially when the temperatures are extremely high
- Wearing life jackets, no matter how experienced a child is at swimming. If there are not enough life jackets available, boat operators should limit the number of people on board.
As already mentioned, drowning is a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 in Texas, and there were 76 reported cases of child drownings in 2022, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Proactive measures such as enrolling children in swimming lessons prior to outings on a lake can help prevent drowning incidents.
What Damages Can I Collect If My Child Is Hurt on a Boat in Texas?
The parents or guardians of a child who is seriously hurt in a boating accident have a right to file a lawsuit to hold the responsible boat owners and operators accountable and seek compensation, also known as damages. The lawsuit must be filed within two years of the incident in accordance with Texas laws.
Parents may be eligible for compensation to cover:
- Emotional damages such as pain and suffering
- Lost wages from missing work to help their child heal from any injuries
- Medical expenses
- Mental anguish
In the tragic event that a child passes away because of a fatal boating accident, parents may be eligible for compensation to cover:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- The emotional toll of losing a loved one, especially a child
- Other unexpected expenses
It is important to speak with our experienced Texas child injury attorneys at The Button Law Firm, who will listen and advise on the best path forward for you and your family.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Texas Child Boating Injury Lawyers
Our team of experienced and compassionate child boating injury attorneys at The Button Law Firm is dedicated to advocating for you and your family if your child is seriously hurt while boating in Texas. With attorneys in Dallas, Houston, and Midland, we are ready to listen, fight for your family, and help your family move forward. Our attorneys at The Button Law Firm are recognized on the prestigious Texas Super Lawyers list, and we can help guide you after a traumatizing incident involving your child. We work on contingency, meaning we don’t charge you or collect any upfront fees to get started on your case. Call us at 214-699-4409 or fill out a contact form for a free consultation.