Houston Boat Accident Lawyers
Our Texas Boating Accident Attorneys Have Helped Clients Nationwide
Most people realize that car accidents happen. The statistics are hard to ignore. However, most people fail to realize that the same dangers attributed to these inland accidents can be attributed to vehicles on the water as well. Throughout the Gulf Coast, people use boats for work, recreation, and transportation. However, the accessibility of the water can have a cost. Boating accidents are a prevalent source of catastrophic injuries.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a boating accident, or if a fatal boat accident resulted in wrongful death, you should not hesitate to get in touch with an experienced Houston boat accident lawyer from our firm as soon as possible. Throughout the years, our firm has helped our clients recover billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. We are here to help you fight for the best compensation.
Take the first step. Call (888) 493-1629 or fill out our online form to receive a free case review.
Common Causes of Boating Accidents in Texas & Throughout the Gulf Coast
Boating Under the Influence
Most people on a boat are doing so as recreation-and, for many people, alcohol is a very present factor in their recreational activities. Unfortunately, boating while drinking is just as dangerous as driving under the influence and can lead to similar crashes.
Severe & Hazardous Weather
When weather gets bad, a boat is often left vulnerable to the whims of the water. Heavy rain, wind, and other weather can cause a boat to be difficult to navigate. Should the boat capsize, the situation can quickly turn deadly.
Different Functioning of Boat Operation
One of the most important aspects of driving a boat is the fact that boats don't have a braking system, which means there is no way for them to come to a stop should they need to immediately. This can cause serious complications for inexperienced operators.
Inexperienced Drivers Behind the Wheel
Boaters are not required to get the same licensing as other drivers. If the boat driver doesn't know the proper rules, doesn't know how to handle the vehicle, or is unable able to adapt to changing conditions, they can cause serious accidents.
The Dangers of Capsizing
In boating, small vessels (like a small dinghy) may be able to recover from capsizing with sufficient experience and crew intervention. However, most commercial vessels are far too large to recover from capsizing, especially because large vessels typically only capsize in catastrophic conditions. If a ship is hit broadside by a large wave under high speed winds, it can even get “pitch poled,” or completely inverted.
In April 2021, a lift boat called the Seacor Power capsized just south of Grand Isle in Louisiana. The boat had 19 crew members, but only 6 were rescued after the capsizing incident. Days after the incident, 2 bodies had been recovered, but 11 crew members were still missing.
Capsizing is a catastrophic event for seamen. In large vessels, it can leave crews exposed in rough, stormy waters or trap them in air pockets within the capsized vessel. Modern vessels have certain safety features and operators have specific training to prevent capsizing, which is why it’s imperative to investigate every boat capsizing event. Even in rough weather, there’s no reason that a pilot’s training or a vessel’s design shouldn’t keep it from capsizing.
Who Can Operate a Boat in Texas?
Unlike cars, which require a process of training and testing to legally operate, nearly anyone who wants to operate a boat in Texas can do so with little training. While the state requires anyone who is born after a certain date to get a Texas Boater Education Card, it's far from a boating license. The card only take about three hours to obtain and requires to prior practice operating a boat to obtain. In fact, many online courses exist online promising to offer the simplest and fastest way to legally operate a boat in Texas.
Alarmingly, those who wish to rent a boat are exempt from needing Texas Boater Education Card. This means that responsible boat owners are often surrounded by reckless renters who are less experienced and more willing to take dangerous risks on the water. Since renters aren't required to receive safety education, experienced boaters are often sharing the water with others who are more focused on having fun than they are being responsible boat operators.
Other parties who don't need a Texas Boater Education Card (as of 2021) include:
- Those born before September 1, 1993
- Minors being surprised by an adult
- Someone who has obtained a boating license in another state
These facts combine to suggest that Texas waters are filled with boaters who might be dangerously experienced and unfocused on safety at any given moment.
Texas Boat Accident Statistics
With rivers, lakes, ship channels, and its proximity to the Gulf, Texas has countless commercial and recreational boating opportunities. It also has some of the most dangerous. A recent study found that Texas had the fifth most alcohol-related boating accidents that caused injury, death, or property damage in the nation.
According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, the following is true about boating in the state:
- Alcohol is involved with at least 50 percent of all boating accidents
- Nearly 85 percent of drowning victims weren't wearing a life jacket
- Most fatal accidents occur on open motorboats on the weekend between noon and 7 p.m.
If you've suffered because of a drunk, inexperienced, or reckless boater, our Houston boat accident lawyers are here to help.
The Size of a Body of Water Can Cause Drivers to Be Unsafe
As someone drives in their car, they do so with measured risk. Measured risk is heightened when drivers are on the freeway or highway. The increase in speed, traffic, and other variables can cause a driver to stiffen up. They begin to be more calculating and to "drive defensively." This is the argument many make for way the German autobahn has fewer accidents per person than American freeways, and why most car accidents happen within a mile of someone's home. When it comes to driving, familiarity and low-risk areas can lull motorists into accidents.
This same principle can be applied to boating. When a boater is out on an ocean or lake, they are more relaxed because they have more space. They may see nothing but open water, and after a few hours of open range driving, they become less measured. They begin to take more risks, they aren't as alert, and they forget that they are driving a vehicle at 50 mph. This is why operator inattention is the number one reason why vessel collisions and other boating accidents occur. Boaters get lulled into a false sense of security until an accident happens.
After a Houston Boating Accident: What You Should Do
Under Texas Parks & Wildlife Code Section 31.104, a boat operator who has been involved in an accident or collision must provide their information, including their name, address, and vessel information, to the other party or parties involved in the incident. The boat operator must also render aid to anyone who is in danger or injured, as long as they can do so "without serious danger to his own vessel, crew, and passengers..."
If you were involved in a boat accident in the Houston area, here are a few tips:
- If someone is seriously injured or missing, radio for emergency help or call 911.
- If you can, try to help anyone who is injured or in danger.
- Exchange information with the other party/parties.
- Seek medical attention, even if you have minor injuries.
- Report the accident (you have 30 days, or 48 hours if someone lost their life).
- Talk to an attorney about your rights and options.
Because every situation is different, the above tips may or may not apply to you. Use your best judgment according to the scenario you're dealing with. And if you have any questions, we're here to help.
Houston Boat Accident FAQ
What causes boating accidents?
The majority of boating accidents are caused by some type of error or negligence on the part of the boat operator. This can be chalked up to inexperience, drunk boating, speeding, or simple carelessness. In other instances, boat accidents are caused by defective boat parts, heavy weather, debris in waterways, or lack of adequate lighting or warning signs. Some boat accidents occur because of unsafe conditions on deck. By determining the cause your accident, our Houston attorneys can identify who should be held accountable.
What types of injuries do boat accidents cause?
One of the greatest dangers of boat accidents is that they occur in the water. A person who is thrown from a boat or who is left in the water when a boat sinks may not be rescued immediately. Minutes and even seconds are precious when an injured person is in the water. Even a relatively uninjured person may be at risk of drowning or suffering from hypothermia if left in the water too long.
The following are potential consequences of Gulf Coast boating accidents:
- Brain damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord trauma
- Severe burns
Boat accident victims and their families deserve justice. That's what we fight for every day at Arnold & Itkin.
Who can I hold responsible for my boating accident?
When boat accidents occur because an individual was careless or a corporation put profits over safety, they should be held accountable. The party (or parties) that can be held legally responsible for your boating accident will depend on the circumstances at hand. If the accident was caused by a negligent boat operator or owner, for example, he or she may be responsible. If the accident involved a commercial vessel, the company may be held liable. If a vessel was defective or malfunctioned, the manufacturer may be to blame. At Arnold & Itkin, we've fought against the biggest corporations-and won. Take this opportunity to find out how we can help you.
When Do I Need to Report a Boating Accident?
Under federal law, a person who is operating a boat must report an accident if someone was injured, it caused more than $2,000 in property damage, or the boat was destroyed. Any accident involving a fall overboard (where the person could not be found and recovered) or a fatality must also be reported. Failing to report a boating accident could result in criminal charges, depending on the circumstances. Under Texas law, a boating accident must be reported within 30 days. If the accident was fatal, it must be reported within 48 hours.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Boating Accident Lawsuit?
A boating accident lawsuit gives a person the opportunity to recoup their losses and restore their life. A settlement or award for a boat accident case in Houston, Texas may include money for medical bills, ongoing treatment, lost earnings, future loss of earnings, emotional trauma, and possibly more. Considering the amount of damage a boat accident can cause, recovering maximum compensation is crucial for any survivor or for a victim's family. Filing a lawsuit also gives a person the opportunity to hold at-fault parties accountable.
Talk to a Texas Boat Accident Attorney from Our Law Firm: (888) 493-1629
You should not hesitate to get the involvement of a Houston boat accident attorney from our law firm as soon as possible. Over the years, we have been successful in some of the most complex injury claims and have proven our unwavering commitment to our clients. Our Texas lawyers know what is on the line and we will do everything that we can to help our clients maximize their recovery so that they can get their life back on track.
Do not hesitate to give us a call at (888) 493-1629. The sooner you get us involved, the sooner we can evaluate your case and come up with the best course of legal action.