A boat accident is defined as any incident that occurs while a boat is in motion. This includes accidents that occur while the boat is underway, docking, or being towed. Boat accidents can result in serious injuries and even death. Although not technically considered a boating accident, incidents that involve jet skis fall into a very similar legal category since they are also marine vehicles.
Why Choose Shaw Cowart’s Boat Accident Attorneys in Austin?
Are you or someone you love the victim of a boat accident due to a third party’s negligence? At Shaw Cowart LLP, our Austin personal injury attorneys want to stress that we are sorry to hear about the experience facing you or a loved one. During this trying time, we want to let you know that you’re not alone and could be eligible for financial compensation.
Our team of legal experts has millions in successful verdicts and settlements at Shaw Cowart LLP. Contact us today for your free, no-obligation case review.
What Are Some Common Causes of Boat Accidents In Austin?
Accidents can result from situations that involve speeding, inexperience, intoxication, and reckless boat operation. Other causes of boat accidents include:
- Collisions with other watercraft
- Collisions with stationary objects
- Passengers falling or jumping overboard
- Improper lookout
- Violating navigational rules
- Running aground
More often than not, the cause of a boat accident is user error. Even something as simple as checking your phone or having a conversation with another person while driving the boat could cause a collision. Although bad weather is a cause of boating accidents in Austin, more boat accidents happen on sunny, pleasant days than during poor weather conditions. Sadly, many preventable deaths occur from boat accidents when passengers fail to wear life jackets and drown after an accident such as a collision or capsize. Other fatalities occur due to the following causes:
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
How Is Negligence Proven in Austin Boating Accidents?
In Texas boat accident cases, proving negligence depends on the type of boating accident, who owns the boat, and the victim’s relationship with the defendant.
The window of reporting for boat accidents resulting in bodily injury or wrongful death is 48 hours to law enforcement and the Texas Parks and Wildlife department. The statute of limitations for most Texas boating accidents is two years, starting from the date of the accident that caused injuries.
Here is an examination of circumstances that might affect negligence in greater detail:
What Factors Into an Austin Boating Accident Lawsuit?
If you or someone you love was in a boat accident and sustained injuries, the following factors may impact your case:
- Did the operator of the boat take the mandatory boater education course to operate a personal watercraft (PWC)?
- Was the individual operating the boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol? =
- Was the operator of the boat looking for hazards?
- Was the boat operator driving in a no-wake zone with a strict speed limit?
- What type of vessels were involved?
- Did the owner or operator of the boat have safety equipment on board?
- What was the visibility like on the water?
- Did the boat’s operator obey all buoys, markers, and water traffic signage?
Individual Falls From Boat Or Receives Injuries While On Boat
Individuals who experience an injury or accident while on the boat may be able to hold owners and operators liable, depending on the circumstances surrounding the injury.
An Employee Is Injured On Employer’s Boat
Employees employed as maritime workers are ineligible to use state workers’ compensation systems. Instead, their injuries are covered by a network of federal laws that hold employers liable. Between the Jones Act, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, and Death on the High Seas Act, a network of federal laws govern maritime workers’ health and well-being after being injured or killed on the job.
Due to the complexity of these situations, it is best advised to work with a highly-regarded boat accident lawyer to understand these circumstances better.
The Impact of Safety Equipment
If the owner and/or operator failed to provide safety equipment, they may be negligent and accountable for any injuries or deaths.
Safety equipment constitutes the following:
- Life Jackets
- Fire Extinguishers
- First Aid Kits
State law requires boats to stock personal floatation devices (PFDs) for all individuals on board the craft.
What Are Some Common Boat Accident Injuries?
Boat accident injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to serious life-threatening injuries.
Common boat accident injuries include broken bones, concussions, spinal cord injuries, and drowning. Injuries will vary depending on factors like the speed at which you are traveling and whether you collided with something. In the case, you have seriously injured your spinal cord, reach out to our Austin spinal cord injury attorneys.
For example, operating a boat during inclement weather may cause the boat to flip even if you do so at a low speed. However, the injuries sustained in a scenario like this will likely be much easier to deal with compared to colliding with another boat.
Common Questions About Boat Accidents
There’s a handful of questions that many boat owners have regarding boat accidents. Understanding the answers to these will help you avoid complications in the future.
Let’s take a look at some of the most notable.
Are Jet Skis Popular in Austin?
Yes, jet skis are popular in Texas. They are a great way to enjoy the water and have some fun during the warmer months of the year. However, it is important to remember that they can also be just as dangerous as boats can.
These vehicles travel at a high speed, and the riders have little protection against collisions.
Are Boating Accidents Common In Austin?
Boating accidents are not overly common. However, they can and do happen. As previously mentioned, one of the most common reasons behind boating accidents is user error.
Approximately How Many Recreational Boat Owners Are There in the United States?
There are millions of recreational boat owners in the United States. This is simply due to the many beautiful waterways that can be enjoyed. With the proper safety precautions, boat ownership can be a fun and safe experience.
What Should I Do if I’m Injured in a Boat Accident?
If you are injured in a boat accident, it’s vital to seek medical attention immediately. Furthermore, right after the accident, if you are able to, use your cell phone if you are able, or hand it to an uninjured person to use it for you and do the following:
- Call 911 to report the accident and request Coast Guard assistance if required
- Take photos of the accident scene
- Take photos of your visible injuries
- Add the contact information of the boat operator
- Collect the contact information of any eyewitnesses to the boating accident
- Record your own statement about what happened while it’s fresh in your mind since trauma can cause later memory loss.
Once you have been seen by a medical professional, you should then contact an experienced boat accident attorney to help sort out the legal details of your situation. Be sure to keep a copy of your medical report, the accident report, and your medical bills. Avoid posting on social media until after your claim is settled.
Can Boating Accidents Be Fatal?
Yes, boating accidents can be fatal. The weight and speed of the vehicle combined with the surrounding environment make boating accidents highly dangerous. Even a minor collision could cause someone to fall and injure their head. If this is the case, please don’t hesitate to contact our wrongful death attorneys in Austin today.
Do Boat Accidents Have a Statute of Limitations?
Yes, boat accidents have a statute of limitations. This means that you only have a certain amount of time to file a claim after the accident has occurred.
In Texas, the statute of limitations is two years for state cases and three years for federal cases. Although you have an extensive time period to file, it’s in your best interest to do so as quickly as possible.
Important Boating Laws in Austin
It’s the responsibility of every boater to know the laws and regulations put in place in Austin and throughout Texas in order to support better safety on the water. Important Texas boating laws in Austin include:
- It is prohibited to operate a vessel without the proper safety equipment including personal flotation devices (life jackets) for every passenger, and fire extinguishers
- Boat operators must take a mandatory boater education course if born on or after September 1, 1991
- Boat operators must have a valid ID and be at least 18 years old if operating a boat of 15 horsepower or above. Boat operators between the ages of 13 and 18 must be accompanied by an adult and must have completed a boater operation course
- Boaters may be fined and/or compelled to complete a second boater operation course if caught in violation of safety laws such as speed limits, reckless or negligent boat operation, hazardous wake, operating a boat in restricted areas, circling swimmers, interfering with ramps and markers, or obstructing passage.
- Boat operators must report any accidents involving fatalities, injuries, or property damage in excess of $2,000 to the local Austin law enforcement agency or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. They must identify themselves by giving their vessel identification number as well as their name and address
Texas laws also require boaters to stop and render reasonable aid to others on the water unless taking action would put themselves and others at risk.
Failing to adhere to Texas boating laws and safety regulations not only puts others at risk on the waterways but also leaves a boat operator liable for damages to others.
What Should I Look For in a Boating Accident Attorney?
You should always look for an attorney who is experienced in handling boat accident cases. Ideally, you want a maritime lawyer or Austin accident lawyer who has successfully handled cases like yours in the past. This will help ensure that you get the most out of your injury settlement.
It’s also worth taking a look at their online reputation to see what other people have had to say about them. The good news is that reputable attorneys will likely have a large number of reviews to skim through.
Finally, you should look for a lawyer who you are comfortable communicating with. If they don’t seem interested in your case, you might not get the best insurance settlement possible.
Contact Our Austin Boating Accident Lawyers Today
Knowing the basics can help you stay safe on the water. If you are ever in a boat accident, remember to contact an experienced boat accident attorney for help. This will help ensure that you can deal with boat accidents swiftly and avoid further complications. The experienced boat accident lawyers at Shaw Cowart are here to provide the information you need.
Like every client we serve, we are proud to help you or a loved one in this time of need. Contact our office today for your free, no-obligation case review so we can get maximum compensation in your boat injury case.
Please call us in Austin, TX, at 512-499-8900