Houston Boat Accident Lawyers

Our Texas Boating Accident Attorneys Have Helped Clients Nationwide

Throughout the Gulf of Mexico, people use boats for work, recreation, and transportation. Texas, with its over 3,700 named streams, 15 major rivers, and 3,359 miles of shoreline along the Gulf Coast, is a prime location for water-related activities of all kinds. However, the accessibility of the water can come at a cost. Boating accidents, both recreational and occupational, are a prevalent source of catastrophic injury and wrongful death in Texas and across the United States.

If you were injured or lost someone you love in a boating accident, do not hesitate to involve a Houston boat accident attorney at our firm. For more than two decades, Arnold & Itkin has fought for individuals and families in Texas and across the country who have experienced the worst injuries and losses, winning more than $20 billion on their behalf.

Take the first step. Call (888) 493-1629 or fill out our online form for a free consultation.

Abogados de lesiones por accidentes marítimos y en alta mar en Houston

Fighting For People Injured On The Water

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Causes of Boating Accidents in Texas & the Gulf Coast

Like most accidents, boating collisions, drownings, falls, and other incidents on the water are largely preventable. Even with the added risk of inclement weather, the right training and safety gear can protect boat operators and passengers from harm. Negligent parties must be held accountable for causing boating accidents; that's where we come in.

Our Houston boat accident firm may be able to help with cases involving:

  • Boating under the influence of alcohol/drugs
  • Severe and hazardous weather
  • Inexperienced boat operators
  • Speeding
  • Poor vessel maintenance
  • Lack of lifejackets or other onboard safety devices
  • Too many passengers on a vessel
  • Failure to obey boating laws (right of way, etc.)
  • Unseaworthy vessels
  • Drowsy or distracted boat operators

Some boating accidents have multiple causes, such as inexperience and heavy weather. Understanding what caused your accident will be an important part of seeking the financial compensation you need to move forward with your life.

The Dangers of Capsizing

A small boat may be able to recover from capsizing with sufficient experience and crew intervention. However, most commercial vessels are far too large to recover, because they typically only capsize in catastrophic conditions. If a ship is hit broadside by a large wave under high winds, it can even get “pitchpoled,” or completely inverted.

In April 2021, a lift boat called the Seacor Power capsized just south of Grand Isle in Louisiana. Of the vessel's 19 crew members, only 6 were rescued. 6 bodies were later recovered; 7 were never found.  

Capsizing is a catastrophic event. 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?

In Texas, operating a boat is far less regulated than driving a car, which requires formal training and testing for legal operation. The state mandates that individuals born after a specific date must acquire a Texas Boater Education Card, but this requirement is minimal compared to obtaining a driver's license. Securing this card is easy and only takes about three hours, and it does not require any previous boating experience. Numerous online courses even advertise themselves as the quickest and easiest route to legally pilot a boat in Texas.

Alarmingly, those who wish to rent a boat are exempt from needing a 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 on 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 inexperienced.

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 in 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 Boat Operators 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 why 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 boating accident is different, use your best judgment based on the circumstances at hand. And if you have any questions, we're here to help however we can.

Time Limit for Filing a Boating Accident Claim in Texas

In Texas, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two years. That means you must file a lawsuit against the at-fault party within two years of the accident. There are exceptions, however, particularly if your case was work-related or falls under maritime law. It's important to talk to an attorney about the limits for filing your claim.

Compensation for Boat Accident Injuries & Deaths

A person who has been injured in a boating accident may be entitled to different types of compensatory damages, meant to help them restore their lives. The type and amount of compensation will vary depending on the severity of injuries and their impact on all aspects of the victim's life, from financial, physical, and emotional standpoints.

A successful boat accident lawsuit in Texas may include compensation for:

  • Medical expenses, including hospitalization, ongoing treatment, physical therapy, medication, and more.
  • Lost earnings, including loss of future/potential wages and benefits if you are unable to work.
  • Physical impairment, including scarring and disfigurement, for catastrophic injuries.
  • Pain and suffering, both physical and emotional in nature.
  • Property damage, if your personal property (such as your boat) was damaged in the accident.
  • Punitive damages, though rare, apply in cases where gross negligence or wrongdoing were involved.

Recovering a fair settlement or award can make all the difference in your ability to rebuild and move on with your life after a serious boating accident. That's why we fight to win.

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 injury 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 lives back on track.

There are many ways our Houston boat accident firm can help:

  • We can answer your questions and offer insight into your rights and options. 
  • We can investigate the accident to determine its cause and who is accountable.
  • We can identify all sources of compensation to maximize your potential recovery.
  • We can handle all communication with the insurance company and all other involved parties.
  • We can negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
  • We can prepare your case for trial if necessary to seek a fair outcome.

Through every single step of your boating accident case, you can count on our team to support you and protect your interests. We treat our clients like family, and we never back down from fighting for what's right. No matter what.

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.

Common Questions

  • 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: drowning; near-drowning; hypothermia; brain damagebroken bonesspinal cord trauma; and 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.
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