Whether you’re heading to Lake Travis or Lady Bird Lake for a day on the water, it can be an enjoyable and relaxing experience. However, a simple cruise on the lake can quickly turn deadly due to unforeseen circumstances. Boating accidents can cause severe injuries and, in some cases, fatalities.
If you’ve been involved in an accident on the water, turn to the Austin boat accident attorneys at Pastrana & García Injury Law. With our 30+ years of combined experience and compassionate attention to our clients, we can help you navigate your personal injury claim.
How Common Are Boating Accidents in Texas?
Texas ranks as the 13th highest state for fatality rates during boating accidents, and since 2018, Texas has seen over 230 deaths from boating accidents across its 150+ lakes. Those numbers are high, but injury rates are even higher.
The U.S. saw over 2,500 injuries in 2019 from over 4,000 boating accidents. In 2022, Texas reported one of the highest numbers of injured boaters, behind California and Florida at 132 reported injuries (pages 63-43). Because of the extensive damage boating accidents can do, healing from injuries can cost thousands or millions, with some boaters experiencing life-altering injuries.
Types of Boating Accidents
Boating accidents can occur in several ways. Because of the risk of the waterways, accidents can include:
- Collisions with other vessels
- Collisions with stationary objects like docks or underwater objects
- Running aground or crashing into land
- The boat capsizing or taking in water
- Passengers falling overboard
These accidents can cause significant injuries or illnesses that need to be treated as soon as possible.
Possible Damages Incurred From Boating Accidents Injuries
As with any accident, boating injuries tend to range from mild to severe and may encompass:
- Fractures or broken bones
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
- Nerve damage
- Neck and spinal cord injuries, including whiplash
- Other wounds or injuries
Assistance to help boaters who are involved in an accident may be delayed due to water conditions like heavy waves or a storm. To best protect yourself after a boating accident, wear a life jacket and keep warm.
Common Causes of Boating Accidents
Safety measures should be taken to prevent injuries or fatalities when on the water. However, boating can be unpredictable at the best of times, even for experienced and licensed boat operators. While some boat accidents occur from user error, others are due to dangerous waters. Boating accidents may be caused by:
- Inexperienced or unlicensed boat operators
- Engine or other mechanical failures
- A disregard for water safety rules
- Driving too close to another vessel
- Poor weather conditions
- Excessive speeds
- Operating a boat while drinking
- Distracted driving
It’s important to stay safe and alert on the water, even if you aren’t operating the boat. The boat operator is responsible for keeping everyone safe; if an accident occurs, know that you have legal rights. The Austin boating accident attorneys at Pastrana & García Injury Law can help you navigate the task of filing a personal injury claim.
Additional Risks from Boating Accidents
Boating carries unique risks for injury or death that aren’t as common with other vehicle crashes. Below, we detail some of the more dangerous aspects of boating.
Passengers or operators of boats may be at risk of drowning, even if they know how to swim. In fact, drowning is one of the main causes of boating deaths. A collision, capsize, or crash may lead to people falling overboard. If a passenger or operator hits their head and becomes unconscious when falling into the water, they will have no means to rescue themselves and must rely on their fellow passengers for survival.
Life jackets are an important resource to help stop drownings. By state law, all boats in Texas must carry enough life jackets for everyone on board. Anyone over 13 doesn’t need to wear their life jacket for the duration of the journey, but the life jackets need to be accessible and easy to reach. While this is an important safety measure, it does not fully encompass the danger of a boating accident; for instance, in the case where the boat capsizes, and the passengers cannot reach their lifejackets, or, as previously mentioned, the victim is unconscious.
In some cases, a person may experience partial drowning. Partial drowning occurs when a victim has been submerged for some time but is eventually rescued. Brain damage from lack of oxygen can occur within three to five minutes, so near-drowning victims should seek medical attention to help prevent or mitigate further complications. Other health complications from partial drowning may include lung distress, pneumonia, or a coma.
Another deadly risk of boating accidents is hypothermia. Hypothermia is when the body’s core temperature cools below 95 degrees F. While colder temperatures are often responsible for hypothermia, even in warmer climates, hypothermia may occur if the body has trouble regulating its internal temperatures.
If it takes a while to rescue people thrown overboard, they may develop hypothermia from being in the water for a long time. However, it does not take an extended period of time in the water to develop hypothermia, and even a quick dunk without proper aftercare can lead to hypothermia. Make sure to change your clothes, if possible, and warm up as best you can if you have taken an unsuspecting fall into the water.
Boating accidents can be traumatic events. Painful or catastrophic injuries and the abrupt nature of the accident can cause people to go into shock. While not exclusive to boating accidents, shock can be life-threatening if not treated.
At Pastrana and García Injury Law, we understand the emotional and mental toll that injuries and accidents can take on those involved. That’s why we never overlook the psychological damages that can happen due to your accidents. PTSD, anxiety, and depression may suddenly occur or increase after a traumatic incident, and it’s important that you get the proper care to heal your mental health alongside your physical health.
Who’s at Fault During a Boating Accident?
If you’re involved in a boating accident, it’s important to determine who was at fault to ensure you receive compensation for your injuries. You may be able to receive compensation depending on whether the operator of the boat you were on (or the operator of the boat who instigated a collision) was impaired, inexperienced, or disregarding waterway rules. If the boat’s mechanics malfunctioned, the responsibility for the accident could be on the boat or part manufacturer. Ask the boating accident lawyers of Austin for answers specific to your accident. We’ll fight for your right to compensation.
Remember, personal injury claims are only valid in Texas for two years; after that time is up, you cannot file a claim. While we know recovery from your injuries may take a long time, we encourage anyone who has experienced a devastating accident to contact our law firm as soon as possible. Our office is compassionate and caring towards the physical and emotional distress you are going through and will work hard to reach real results for the suffering you’ve experienced.
What Compensation You Can Receive After a Boating Accident
Every personal injury claim is filed under different circumstances, so exact compensation amounts will vary. However, with our boating accident attorneys at your side, you can expect us to calculate and request compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Continuing care, surgeries, or therapies
- Pain and suffering
- Current and future wages that were lost because of the accident
It’s incredibly important to receive medical treatment after experiencing a boating accident. Not only will professionals be able to check for any injuries that may not be visible, like internal bleeding, but you will have a better chance of receiving compensation for your injuries if you get them checked out and recorded at a hospital immediately. After you’ve been medically examined, contact us so we can help you with the legal side of your experience.
Contact Pastrana & García Injury Law Boat Accident Lawyers
Find answers to your boating accident injury questions with our personal injury legal team. Our compassionate attorneys are ready to represent and assist you throughout this time. Our experienced lawyers are ready for your call at 512-474-4487 or contact us online to get started.