As boating has become more popular over the last few years and more people spend time on the water, it’s critical to be aware of water safety. It’s very easy for a fun day at the lake to turn deadly if boaters participate in negligent actions that injure others.
Our Austin boating accident lawyers are here to advocate for you. If your injuries are from a boating accident, contact Pastrana & García Injury Law so we can help you with your personal injury case.
Boating Accidents Statistics
Boating accidents and fatalities increased drastically around 2020; 2021 was a particularly difficult year in Texas, with 40% more fatalities within a four-month period than the previous year. While nationally, 2022 saw a decrease in boating accidents because of a spike in accidents in 2020, they are not near the lower levels they were before.
Boating carries significant dangers, and many people who go out on the water are not adequately prepared. It’s a good idea to research the body of water you’re going to be boating on, even if you’ve been there many times before. State and local parks often put warnings on their website, alerting recreational users of new hazards and helping visitors make good choices when on the water. Always pay attention to warning signs posted by local or state departments, whether you see them online or posted around a lake.
Causes of Boating Accidents
Knowing the causes of boating accidents can help you prevent these tragedies from happening. Many boating accidents occur because of human error or negligence.
While carrying alcohol on boats is legal, the driver is not allowed to drink. Passengers may partake, but boat operators should be fully alert when at the stern. Blood alcohol content requirements for boat operators are the same as driving a car, and you can lose your motor vehicle license for operating a boat while intoxicated.
Just like driving a vehicle on land, operating a boat means that your full concentration should be on the water; your responsibility is to your passengers. If you’re a passenger who notices the boat operator is not paying full attention to the water, remind them of their obligations.
Lakes and other bodies of water often have posted speed limits. This requirement ensures that other boaters have an enjoyable time and safety. Speeding can result in crashes where the operator cannot avoid a collision with another boat, land, or a stationary object like a dock. In addition to a collision from excessive speed, any sudden swerving needed to avoid these collisions could result in passengers being thrown overboard and severely injured.
Not Having a Lookout
With boating, there should be a person whose job it is to watch for obstacles on the water that the operator might not see. Not designating a lookout can lead to collisions with other boats, obstacles like rocks or piers, or running aground.
Improper or Inadequate Training
Hundreds of accidents a year are attributed to improperly trained boat operators. The injuries and deaths that result from these accidents would have been preventable had the training been taken.
Weather can play a huge factor in boating accidents. Fog, rain, or choppy water can increase safety hazards, making seeing obstacles, other vessels, or land difficult. Because weather can change quickly on the water, it’s not always possible to know previously about bad weather, but if you do hear about a potential storm, avoid boating.
As a passenger in a boating accident, these situations are not your fault, and the responsible parties should cover the injuries that were sustained from such accidents. We’re on your side; Pastrana & García Injury Law’s boat accident attorneys are here to see you fairly compensated.
Dangers of Boating Accidents
While any accident can bring the dangers of broken bones, fractures, burns, and other long-term injuries, here are a few injuries that stand out when boating.
- Drowning can happen even if someone considers themselves a good swimmer; a current, undertow, injury, or other conditions can cause them to drown.
- Near-drowning occurs when the body is submerged and without oxygen; after 4 to 6 minutes of unconsciousness, the brain starts to become affected, and even if the near-drowning victim is rescued and revived, they may have permanent brain injuries.
- Head injuries, concussions, and TBIs are all extremely concerning no matter the type of accident; however, because taking a blow to the head can leave a person unconscious, this increases the likelihood of drowning.
- Hypothermia, or where the core body temperature drops below 95 degrees for a period of time, can lead to complications or even death if not addressed. To avoid hypothermia, change out of wet clothes, if possible, and wrap up in dry towels or blankets.
Steps to Take After a Boating Accident
A boating accident can leave you disoriented and confused. Here are clear steps you need to take after a boating accident to protect yourself:
- Seek medical attention. Even if you aren’t visibly injured, you need to have a doctor check you out to ensure you don’t have internal injuries, shock, or hypothermia.
- Document the accident; write down everything you remember.
- If you don’t already have it, get the boat operator’s contact information.
- Call Pastrana & García Injury Law’s boating accident attorneys so we can help you sort out your accident claim.
Why Hire a Boating Accident Lawyer?
Hiring a lawyer for a boating accident can be a good idea when many factors are at play. Boating accidents might end up with multiple insurance companies fighting to give you the least amount of money. You want representation who knows how to navigate murky situations and will advocate on your behalf. Call our team for answers.
Boating Rules in Texas
To keep you safe on the water, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has rules for boat operators to follow:
- A mandatory Boat Education Certification course and boating license for anyone 30 years old or younger
- The boat must have all proper working equipment on board, including an exhaust water manifold, a whistle or horn, and an engine cut-off switch lanyard
- Accessible, working, and appropriately sized life jackets must be available for everyone on board; children under 13 must be wearing their life jackets while on the boat, while adults must be able to easily reach their life jackets
Boaters must also:
- Not operate a boat before sunrise or after sunset
- Create dangerous wakes
- Interfere with other boats by either blocking the way or otherwise interacting with them in a dangerous manner
Each lake has separate regulations, so be sure to make yourself aware of the specific rules for the lake you’re visiting.
Frequently Asked Questions About Boating Accidents
- Who’s responsible for the accident? This depends on many factors. If the operator of your boat was incapacitated, distracted, or unqualified to operate the boat, and they ran aground or hit an obstacle, then the liability is on them. The same could be true in a collision with another vessel; one or both operators could be at fault. Sometimes, however, the manufacturer of the boat could be responsible if a piece of equipment that was unfit for the water slipped through quality control.
- What damages can I expect from a boating accident? You are entitled to request compensation for any medical injuries, treatments, medications, surgeries, or therapies needed because of the boating accident. Because we know that healing doesn’t end once you leave the hospital, our legal team will also take into consideration the money you lost from being unable to work and any future compensation you may miss out on from your injuries. We are also extremely sensitive to emotional injuries and will factor in pain and suffering damages.
- How much can I expect from a boating accident? Every case is different. To get an estimate of how much you’re owed, reach out to our Texas office so we can hear your full experience. We’ll be able to give you a closer estimate during your free consultation.
- How long do I have to file a boating accident injury claim? The statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years in Texas; starting the process sooner is a good idea.
Contact Pastrana & García Injury Law Today
Our Austin boating accident lawyers are just a call away at 512-474-4487. Reach out so that we can help you with your claim. Our priority is our clients. For lawyers who are strong in fighting for your rights and empathetic to your needs, contact Pastrana & García Injury Law today.