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.
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.