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Texans, like other U.S. residents, love to get on the water when the weather is right. Because of the many ways and the type of vessels they use, boating accidents are bound to happen. Several factors and situations lead to these accidents, and those involved suffer different degrees of injuries. 

In Texas, whether you are a seaman, docker, or recreational boater, you can get compensation if injured in a boat accident. However, since maritime law and accidents can be complicated, it's important to know who is liable for a Houston Boating accident. You can consult with a boat accident attorney from Calhoun Meredith to learn your legal options. 

What Are the Common Types of Boating Accidents? 

who is liable for a houston boating accident?

There is always a risk of accidents when traveling on the water. Speed, weather conditions, or carelessness of boating operators could result in a crash. The preceding are also what determines the types of accident. 

Below we list out the various categories of accidents involving boats. 

  • Commercial Boating Accidents: When you are on the water, several dangers could result in an accident. Careless operations, equipment failure, and deck fire are some of the accidents that happen on commercial boats. This accident is mostly common among seamen. 
  • Jet Ski Accidents: While jet skis and other watercraft are fun and exhilarating, they are prone to accidents. A combination of speed, lack of experience or instruction, and water conditions can make a jet ski crash. Jet ski operators involved in crashes are prone to serious injuries or wrongful death.
  • Yacht Accidents: A yacht accident happens when inexperienced operators are in charge of the vessel. Accidents of this nature are quite severe because of the large size of the yacht. If the vessel collides with a smaller boat, it might inflict severe damage and injuries. 
  • Shrimping and Fishing Boat Accidents: Boat owners owe their crewmen a duty of care. When they fail to uphold this duty, accidents happen. Boat owners must maintain and operate the boat properly. If not, they will be liable for any injury that results from a crash. 
  • Pontoon Boat Accidents: This vessel might be fun to operate and appear safe, but they are prone to accidents. The relaxing nature of the watercraft might lead to negligence and operator inattention, causing accidents. A pontoon boat propeller can also become a hazard, especially if those on board are under the influence of alcohol. The occupants can lose their balance resulting in an accident. 
  • Rental/Recreational Boating Accidents: This accident type is quite common. Most boating enthusiasts who rent boats are inexperienced boaters. Although boating rental companies give tutorials, it is often not enough to prevent an accident. 
  • Marina and Dock Accidents: Even if you are not actively navigating the vessel, an accident can still happen. This results from the negligent actions of the workers at the marina or dock. In this instance, the person who caused the accident will be the liable party. 

Other known boat accident types are: 

  • Propeller accidents
  • Run over accidents
  • Overboard accidents
  • Drowning accidents
  • Slips and falls on a vessel
  • Crew member accidents

No matter the accident type, victims can file a boat accident claim against the responsible party. Our experienced boat accident lawyers can explain more on liabilities and rights. 

What Are the Common Causes of Boat Accidents? 

As mentioned earlier, several things can cause a water vessel accident. Some of the top causes are: 

  • Operator Inattention: While we admit that there are several distractions while boating, a boat operator needs to keep their focus on the task of navigating. This is because of the unpredictable nature of weather and wind, and hazardous water. The American Boating Association notes operator inattention as one of the top five primary contributors to boat accidents.  
  • Improper Lookout: This is another leading cause of watercraft accidents. Always have someone act as a lookout for threats and hazards the operator might miss. 
  • Operator Inexperience: This is also one of the top leading causes of boat accidents. A boat operator must have basic knowledge of boating and know admiralty law and navigation rules. They should also know how to handle emergencies.
  • Excessive Speed: Just like in motor vehicle accidents, excessive speed cause water vessels to crash. Boaters should obey waterways' speed limits, as moving too fast reduces reaction time. Also, speeding causes rollovers and collisions with other boats. 
  • Alcohol Uses: According to the American Boating Association, alcohol use is the leading cause of fatal boating accidents. A Texas boater must have less than .08% blood alcohol concentration. A person who operates a boat and drinks is guilty of a BUI (boating under the influence). 
search and rescue team search houston waters for a boat accident

Other known causes of boating accidents are:

  • Mechanical failure from improper maintenance
  • Navigational rules violations
  • Hazardous waters due to sudden changes in current or rapid tidal flows
  • Bad weather
  • Force of waves/wake

What To Do After a Boating Accident? 

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) stipulates what boaters should do immediately after an accident. The first action is calling your local game warden, a local law enforcement agency, or the TPWD. The Parks and Wildlife Code Section 31.105 requires water vessel operators to report accidents and casualties. 

The boat operator must report the accident within 30 days of the occurrence. It is 48 hours if a fatality occurs, there's an injury requiring more than first aid, or property damage exceeding $2,000. Ensure the report includes the description of the collision or casualty. 

Furthermore, Parks and Wildlife Code Section 31.104 requires the operator of any vessel to stop and assist an injured person. The only time they are exempted is if the action would endanger the passenger on their vessel. Also, the operator must give their name, address, and vessel identification number in writing to an injured person and owner of the damaged property. 

Lastly, the injured person should get immediate medical treatment. Getting treated by a medical professional will prevent the risk of permanent injuries. You will also need the medical report when making a personal injury claim against the responsible party. 

Are Boating Accidents Preventable? 

Water vessel accidents fall under preventable accidents. But despite this fact, many people still find themselves in accidents. In 2020, boating accidents were at an all-time high. The fatal accident rate on waterways increased by 45 percent from 2019, with boating accident injuries increasing by 64%. 

With these disturbing numbers, how can boaters prevent accidents and injuries? Here are some tips: 

  • Don't drink and boat 
  • Complete a boater safety course 
  • Check the weather forecast even if the weather appears clear
  • Watch out for children in and near the water
  • Make sure you adequately maintain boats and have waterproof communication devices on board.
  • Adhere to the boat's capacity
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Wear a properly fitting life jacket 

Even if you take all these precautions, a negligent person can cause an accident. Find out more about your rights as a victim from our skilled boat accident lawyers. 

Who Is Liable in a Houston Boating Accident?

When a boating accident happens, those onboard are bound to suffer injuries. These wounds could be minor injuries or catastrophic injuries like spinal cord injuries and severe brain injuries. A person who suffers any wound is entitled to an accident injury claim. 

While it appears simple, the process can be complicated, especially if the victims cannot identify the fault party. As Houston expert boating accident attorneys, we know the categories of persons liable for boat accidents. We will help you file your claim against the necessary and proper parties. 

In Houston, a victim can file a boating accident claim against: 

  • The operator of a boat if they failed to provide reasonable safety for passengers or were drunk boating. An operator who recklessly operates a watercraft or disregarded boating laws is also liable. 
  • A boat passenger who acted recklessly or prevented the boat operator from fulfilling their duty.
  • A boat operator who failed to interfere with a passenger's reckless behavior. Here, the operator must be aware of the reckless act to the liable. 
  • The boat owner if the person knowingly loaned their vessel to an underqualified person. 
  • The manufacture of the boat if the accident resulted from a manufacturing or design defect. In this case, the victim can file a product liability claim for the defective product. 
  • The boat rental company. They are liable if they knew of a mechanical problem and failed to fix it before loaning the vessel out. 

What Compensation Can You Get for Boat Accidents?

Like every accident that comes under personal injury law, victims of boating accidents are entitled to economic and non-economic damages. They cover money spent on medical care and emotional injuries like emotional anguish. In a lawsuit, the fault party who was grossly negligent would pay punitive damages. 

Under the Texas Statute of Limitations, you have two years to file a boating accident claim. The time period might change if the accident occurred further in the Gulf. Contact a personal injury attorney at Calhoun Meredith to know your options. 

a man falls off a boat in houston

What Will a Houston Boating Accident Attorney Do for You?

It's always better to commence a personal injury claim with an attorney's help. A lawyer's presence quickens the claims process and makes insurance companies take you seriously. At Calhoun Meredith, our lawyers see you as a real person with problems. 

Thus, we will bring all our expertise to bear to get you the maximum financial compensation. We demand no upfront fees and work on a contingency basis. Contact us today for a free case review.

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