Texas is a state of about 7,000 lakes—and Texans are proud of this scenic beauty. However, a day on the water can sometimes have life-altering effects.
Thousands of boaters use our state’s lakes each week. Recreational boating is often thought of as a safe activity, but you could be at risk due to another party’s careless behavior. Protect yourself by learning how accidents occur and how our Texas personal injury attorney at The Button Law Firm helps those who’ve been injured in serious boating accidents.
Types of Boating Accidents
Some types of boating accidents that commonly occur include:
- Collisions between two vessels
- Grounding of the boat
- Collision with a fixed object, including a dock
- Water skiing-related accidents
- Fishing accidents
- Jet skiing accidents
- Falls on the boat
- Injuries or falling overboard due to improper operation of the boat
Causes of Accidents
As vast as some of the lakes are in Texas, it may seem strange that accidents happen so often. There are various reasons why boating accidents occur, though. In fact, many occur for the same reasons as other types of motor vehicle accidents.
Texas boat accidents can be caused by:
- Distraction. A person who is not operating the boat in a safe manner due to texting, talking, or simply not standing at the helm may cause an accident to occur.
- Inexperience. While boating seems easy, it takes skill. Some accidents are the direct result of a person not knowing how to properly operate the boat, especially in changing conditions.
- Use of substances. The use of alcohol or drugs while operating a boat creates risk because it impairs judgment and reaction time.
- Mechanical failures. The boat itself may not operate safely, leading to the onset of a significant accident due to lurching or failing to stop.
- Hazardous weather. Changing weather conditions may lead to accidents due to the onset of rough conditions.
What to Do After a Boat Accident
After an accident occurs, your safety and that of other people is the priority. That means ensuring that you call for medical support right away.
In addition to this, make sure to fill out an accident report with the police or Coast Guard. This can help create documentation of what occurred while it is fresh in your mind.
If you are able to do so, gather the names and contact information for each person involved. Then, do the same for all witnesses at the location.
It’s always wise to work with a personal injury attorney right away. If you talk to the insurance company on your own, you could say or do something that damages your case and limits your right to compensation.
Potential Compensation After a Texas Boating Accident
Boating accidents can cause numerous types of losses. That’s why it is so important to work with an experienced boat accident attorney in Texas. Some types of potential compensation include:
- Medical expenses related to emergency services
- In-hospital stay costs
- Medication costs
- Costs related to surgical procedures
- Specialist care costs
- Lost time at work
- Rehabilitation costs
Boating Laws in Texas
Numerous laws exist to make boating as safe as possible, but few provide comprehensive coverage. Additionally, some counties have their own laws boaters must obey.
A person born on or after September 1, 1993, is required to obtain a boating license to operate some types of boat vessels, including:
- A personal watercraft of any type, such as a jet ski
- A powerboat with a 15-horsepower motor or higher
- A windblown vessel like a sailboat if it is over 14 feet in length
To obtain a license, the individual must be at least 13 years of age and complete the Texas Parks and Wildlife safety course. Those under the age of 13 may be able to operate a vessel only if a person over the age of 18 is present and that person has passed the required safety course and remains on the boat while it is underway.
The state also has a life jacket requirement. An approved PFD lifejacket must be worn by any person that is riding or being towed behind a personal watercraft.
Note that there are no boat insurance laws in Texas. That means boat owners and operators may not have insurance while on the lake with you. (It is highly recommended that all boaters carry insurance, but you can’t count on others to behave responsibly.)
How a Boat Accident Case Works
In Texas, you have two years to file a claim after a boating accident. Doing so right away isn’t always the best. Rather, work with your attorney to determine the right time to file a claim or pursue legal action if the other party does not want to settle the case. You want to ensure you know all of the potential losses you’ve had.
You and your attorney will work to gather evidence in the claim. This includes getting information related to the incident, police reports, video footage, and medical evidence. Then, if insurance companies are involved, your attorney will work with you to file a claim and negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. If they are unwilling to do so, you may need to file your case in a court of law where a jury or judge will decide on it.
How a Boat Accident Lawyer in Texas Can Help You
An attorney works closely with you to ensure you’ve documented all evidence of loss and filed a claim that is most likely to be accepted. In addition to this, your attorney will guide you in the entire process, including working with the insurance company. If your case goes to court, the lawyer also works with you to understand exactly what to expect – as we have helped guide many of our clients within Midland, Houston, Dallas, and the surrounding areas.
You can give us a call at (214) 699-4409 or email us at [email protected]. You can contact us online to schedule a free consultation or by filling out the form below or by chatting with a member of our team.