Boat Accident Attorneys in Houston, Texas
Texas is a great place to enjoy boating, but it is second only to Florida in the number of people injured or killed while doing so. In 2020, 173 people were injured in Texas recreational boating accidents and 59 people were killed. Someone else’s negligence can spoil a great day on the water.
If you were injured while boating because someone else failed to act with care, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses, income lost while you were hurt, and your pain and suffering. Proving negligence and recovering compensation in a boating accident is significantly more challenging than doing so when injured in a motor vehicle accident. The attorneys at Ellis & Thomas, PLLC welcome the challenge.
If you were injured in or around Houston, Texas, including Harris, Fort Bend, Montgomery, and Brazoria counties, call us to talk about your case.
What Types of Boating Accidents are There?
“Boat” is a general term for many different watercraft, including any powered by a gas or electric engine, such as fishing boats, pontoons, airboats, speedboats, jet skis, and wave runners. Boats also include sailboats as well as watercraft powered manually, such as canoes, kayaks, rowboats, racing shells, and rubber rafts.
Texas boasts 80,000 miles of rivers, 1.7 million acres of freshwater lakes, and four million acres of saltwater. That’s a generous amount of waterways for the state’s 590,000 recreational boats to take advantage of. It is also the space where boating accidents can occur. Accidents include falling overboard, hitting a stationary object, striking a person or another boat, fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, and drowning because someone was not wearing a life vest or using a personal flotation device.
Who Might be Liable for a Boating Accident?
Who is liable for a boating accident will depend on the circumstances. Typically, the operator of the boat you are in or the operator of another boat, if they fail to operate it safely, can be legally responsible for your injuries and other damages.
The owner of the boat, even if they were not present at the time, can also be liable if they gave permission to someone to operate their watercraft who was not safe to do so or failed to provide the required safety items on their boat. For example, the owner may be liable if they allow someone to operate their boat without the required safety education or if they fail to have the required life vests, fire extinguisher, or lights on the boat.
A dock owner could be liable if the dock is unsafe or if it allows unqualified people to rent or use their boats.
If you are injured as the result of a manufacturing defect, such as improper venting of gasses, a faulty railing or ladder, or a kill switch that fails, the watercraft manufacturer may be liable.
Other individuals may be liable if they shove you and you fall overboard, if they commit dangerous acts like “play chicken” with another boat or with a stationary object, or if they are drinking while boating. Anyone whose negligence causes an accident can be held liable for your damages.
What Texas Laws Address Boating Accidents?
There are federal and state laws that address boating safety, including life jackets, ventilation, fire extinguishers, distress signals, lights, boat registration, and documentation.
Texas Parks and Wildlife enforce state laws regarding the registration, licensure, safe operation, and accidents involving recreational boating. Among the laws are required boater education and reporting of accidents where someone was injured or killed or involving property damage in excess of $2,000. Furthermore, operating a boat while intoxicated is illegal and will result in a suspension of the drunk boater’s driver’s license just as it would had they been operating a motor vehicle.
Motor vehicle operators must observe the rules of the road. In the same way, boat operators must observe the rules of navigation. Navigation rules are more difficult to track in the wake of a boat accident, which is one of the reasons why boating claims are more challenging. You should work with a personal injury attorney who is experienced with boating accident claims if you have been injured in one.
How Do You Prove Someone was Negligent?
To recover compensation in a personal injury claim or lawsuit, you must prove negligence. Doing so requires proof of three elements:
First, the negligent party owed you a duty of care.
The party breached that duty of care.
As a result of the breach, you were injured and incurred damages such as medical expenses and loss of income.
Just as with any other accident, boating accidents must be fully investigated, witnesses interviewed, documents gathered, and a claim made against all negligent parties. Your personal injury lawyer can handle all of these steps while you focus on your recovery.
Boating Accident Attorneys in Houston, Texas
At Ellis & Thomas, PLLC, in Houston, Texas, we are undaunted by the challenges of proving negligence in boating accidents. Negligent parties and those that insure them are driven to deny your claim. We know how to fight back for our clients. If you have been injured in a Texas boating accident, call our office now to schedule a free case consultation.