Boat Accident Attorney Houston
Experienced Boating Accident Attorneys in Houston, TX
Federal and Texas maritime laws both have their own regulations concerning boat accidents. Because of this, a Houston boat accident can be a complex and challenging process for those who wish to file a personal injury claim. At Reich & Binstock, our Houston boat accident lawyers have years of experience in dealing with these types of complicated boat accident claims. We have helped numerous clients throughout Texas in recovering compensation for their damages and losses. If you or a loved one seek compensation for your boating accident injuries, reach out to the professionals at Reich & Binstock today. Call a boat accident attorney with our law firm today at 713-622-7271 to schedule your free case evaluation.
Texas Maritime Laws and Boating Regulations
Just as a vehicle driver is expected to understand the rules of the road, a boat operator is expected to follow all boating safety rules and regulations. Boat operators must follow both state and federal laws while engaging in recreational boating or while operating commercial boats. This ensures that everyone on the water can avoid a boating accident. Below, we outline some of the federal and state regulations that apply to boating in Texas. We also explore how liability plays a role in boat rentals.
Federal Boating Regulations
Maritime law applies to boating accidents that happen on navigable waters when the accident involves a commercial maritime vessel. In other words, it generally does not apply to recreational boating accidents. The following federal laws may come into play in a commercial boating accident in Texas.
- Jones Act
- Death on the High Seas Act
- Oil Pollution Act
- Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
- Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act
Texas Boating Regulations
Meanwhile, Texas state law will govern accidents that happen in non-navigable waters with recreational boats. Most of the applicable laws come from the Texas Water Safety Act. Some of the most important provisions include the following.
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Code addresses the following:
- Boat ownership and boat motor regulations
- Requires certain boat owner and boat operator education classes
- Requires accident reports in the event of a boat crash
- Outlines the responsibilities of operators
- The Texas Penal Code covers boating while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
Boat Rentals and Liability
So, how do boating laws apply to rentals? When a boating accident happens in a boat that you don’t own, you may wonder if liability differs in this situation. In some of these cases, the rental company may actually be liable for your injuries. However, you must prove that the rental company was negligent in one of the following ways.
- The boat you rented was not safe for rental or operation.
- You were not actually eligible to rent the boat, but the rental company allowed you to anyway.
- Sometimes, rental companies send employees to operate boats for the renters. If these employees are not properly trained or licensed, this could lead to an accident.
- Rental companies have a responsibility to notify renters of any potential risks. If they fail to do this, they could be held liable for injuries.
Causes Of Houston Boating Accidents
Some boating accidents are caused by the negligence of others such that the injured party may be entitled to compensation from the negligent party.
In these instances, boating accidents may be attributable to a wide range of causes, such as the following.
While there are generally no regulations for speed limits for boaters, it is still important to maintain a safe speed. Driving a boat at excessive speeds can make it easier for the driver to lose control of the boat, resulting in the possibility of a dangerous accident.
Plenty of boating accidents have been a result of the captain’s reckless behavior. This behavior can include, but is not limited to, any of the following scenarios:
- Allowing passengers to act recklessly (sitting in dangerous spots while the boat is in motion)
- Attempting to do tricks
- Splashing other boats
- Jumping wakes
- Violating low wake rules
- Not paying attention to other watercraft in the vicinity
- Traveling too close to other boats
- Overloading a boat with too many passengers or cargo
Just as it is against the law for someone operating a vehicle to drive under the influence, it is also illegal for boat drivers. Operating a boat with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of 0.08 is strictly prohibited. If you are caught boating while drunk, you may be hit with a hefty fine or even jail time. For first offenders alone, the penalty for drunk boating may be a $2,000 fine, 180 days of jail time, or both. Charges are even more severe if an accident or injury occurs as a result.
As an example, Lake Conroe is known as the most dangerous lake in Texas. But why is Lake Conroe so dangerous? Alcohol use is a large contributor to boat accidents on the popular lake.
Operating a boat is not as easy as one might think. Someone without the skill or experience needed to properly operate and navigate a boat can easily cause an accident.
Bad weather can be even more dangerous for boaters than it is for drivers. High winds, rain, and stormy weather can make waters extremely choppy and treacherous. Dangerous waters can easily overturn boats or potentially cause a variety of other terrible accidents.
The captain of a boat is responsible for the passengers aboard their watercraft. Passengers should remain seated while the boat is in motion and wear proper protective gear (i.e., life jackets for minors). They should also refrain from causing distraction or obstructing the drivers’ view.
Additionally, a boat driver must be aware of not only what he or she is doing but also what others on the water are doing. Most boating accidents in Houston occur when the driver fails to adequately perform one or both duties.
How Do Boat Accidents Happen?
Many people don’t realize that Houston boat accidents occur fairly often. There are several potential causes of a boating accident. Many boat accidents occur for similar reasons that a car accident might happen. Some of the more common reasons include negligent operation, alcohol use, or inexperienced driving.
Specifically, most boat accidents occur in warmer months or during the holidays. Most of these crashes happen because of reckless operation, alcohol use, dangerous passenger actions, or inexperienced boat operators. Regardless of how an accident happens, it’s important to contact a boating accident attorney as soon as possible. We will help investigate your claim, gather evidence to support it, and fight your case in court if necessary.
Most Common Types of Boating Accident Claims
Boating injuries can occur from a number of different types of boats and other watercraft. Our boating accident lawyers have handled many of these case types, including the following.
- Commercial boating accidents
- Jet ski accidents
- Accidents involving inflatable boats
- Dive boat accidents
- Yacht accidents
- Fishing boat accidents
- Barge accidents
- Accidents that occur while water skiing
Common Injuries After a Boating Accident
As with car accidents, boat accidents have the potential to cause a number of serious injuries to passengers and others. Boat owners have a responsibility to carry the appropriate safety equipment, such as life jackets, on their vessels at all times. Unfortunately, reckless behavior and negligence can cause a boating crash that not even the right safety measures can prevent. Injured victims could suffer any of the following injuries in a boating accident.
- Spinal cord injury
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injury
- Soft tissue injuries
- Burn injuries
- Drowning accidents
- Wrongful death
Who Is Liable for a Houston Boating Accident?
If you are injured in a boating accident, you may wonder who could be held liable in your boating accident claim. Over 4,700 boat accidents occur in the United States each year. Of those 4,700 accidents, more than 700 of them are fatal. In personal injury or wrongful death cases, someone must be held responsible for any injuries sustained. After a boating accident, any of the following parties may be held liable for your injuries.
- Boat operator/driver: Boating safety is paramount in all situations. If boat operator inattention or recklessness results in personal injuries, they could be held liable for the victim’s losses.
- Boat passengers: Reckless behavior is dangerous for anyone on a boat, including passengers. If passengers demonstrate negligence that distracts the operator or that causes other problems, they could be held liable for an accident.
- Rental companies: As we mentioned previously, a rental company could also be considered the party responsible for an accident. This can occur if they fail to properly maintain the boat, fail to check if a renter is eligible for a rental, or from other forms of negligence.
- Boat manufacturers: If a defective part causes an accident to occur, the manufacturer of that part could be held liable under product liability laws. Contact a product liability lawyer with Reich & Binstock if this is the case.
When Are You Required to Report a Boating Accident in Texas?
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Code states that operators of any type of watercraft must report accidents to either a local law enforcement agency or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
If the accident resulted in an injury that requires treatment beyond simple first aid care or property damage exceeding $2,000, it must be reported within 30 days of the accident.
Furthermore, if the accident resulted in a fatality or a missing person, it should be reported within 48 hours.
What Type of Report Must be Filed if There Is an Accident While Boating?
When reporting a boat accident, the operator must provide a full description of the accident in accordance with department regulations. All reports of boating accidents remain confidential and are inadmissible in a court as evidence.
To report a boat accident, contact your local game warden or a police station. You can also call the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to report the incident at 512-389-4848. A TPWD police communications operator will be available to take reports 24 hours a day.
What Should You Do Before Filing a Boating Accident Report in Texas?
Before filing the boat accident report, there are some measures you must take immediately upon the accident’s occurrence:
The first thing you should do as the driver of a boat or watercraft is take care of others that may have been affected by the boat accident, if necessary. If you are able to save them or minimize any further danger without posing a risk to the vessel or other passengers, do so.
You should also provide your name, address, and identification in writing to any injured persons or if the accident resulted in property damage to another vessel.
How Can a Houston Boat Accident Lawyer Help?
If you have been involved in a boat accident, you should seek legal help immediately.
An experienced Houston boat accident lawyer can assist in determining the facts of the accident and preserving any evidence that might be useful to your case. This evidence is a crucial piece of your case if you seek compensation for your damages either through a settlement or through the court. It is not necessary to have a Houston boat accident attorney, but it is recommended.
Dealing with insurance companies on your own can be frustrating and may get you nowhere if you don’t have the knowledge and skill that a boat accident lawyer can provide.
Oftentimes, insurance providers will attempt to discredit your claim completely or at least significantly reduce the amount of compensation you’re entitled to.
Only with the help of attorneys such as Reich & Binstock can a plaintiff avoid the insurance company trying to make them settle for less or throwing out the claim entirely.
How to Choose the Best Houston Boat Accident Lawyer
When you’re searching for a boating accident lawyer to help with your case, it’s important to seek out seasoned injury lawyers. Find a personal injury law firm that has considerable experience handling cases involving significant injuries. It’s also important that your boating accident attorneys have significant experience, specifically with boating accidents.
At Reich & Binstock, our boating accident lawyers are here for you after an accident occurs. We have the skills, the knowledge, and the resources necessary to fight for a fair settlement on your behalf. If you were injured in a boating accident, our personal injury lawyers will advise you of your legal options and build a strong case to take to trial if necessary.
We encourage our clients to schedule a free consultation with us to determine whether or not they have a valid personal injury claim. Additionally, we won’t charge you a cent unless we secure a recovery on your behalf. As experienced personal injury lawyers, we understand that accident victims already have hefty medical bills and lost wages piling up from their accidents. We operate on a contingency fee basis so that we don’t add to your existing financial strain.
What Damages Can I Recover from a Boating Accident Injury Claim?
Your Houston boating accident lawyer should not only provide you with qualified legal assistance but also fight for full and fair compensation on your behalf. After a catastrophic injury, you may need expensive and lengthy medical treatment. Our law firm will fight for compensation in the following forms.
- Current and future medical expenses
- Current and future lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of consortium
- Long-term medical care costs
- Scarring or disfigurement compensation
- In wrongful death cases, funeral and burial expenses
Other Types of Boating Accidents We Handle
Other than commercial and recreational boating accidents, there are other case types that our law firm handles. We outline these cases below.
Houston Jetski Accidents
Personal watercraft riding, particularly on Jet Skis, is one of the most popular ways to enjoy waterways and sometimes beat the summer heat. Unfortunately, riding in a personal watercraft also can be dangerous. Most personal watercraft injuries are caused by operator negligence.
Due to a jet ski’s size and overall lack of protection afforded to the driver, personal watercraft accidents may result in debilitating injuries and even death. If you are involved in a jet ski accident, a personal injury lawyer with our firm can represent your case.
Why Are Jet Skis so Dangerous?
Jet skiing is notoriously dangerous, especially for inexperienced and reckless operators. If a rider gets thrown off of the watercraft, they could suffer injuries from the jet propulsion system. Also, jet skis have far less protection for riders and passengers than other boats and watercraft. The specific injuries often associated with jet ski accidents include internal damage and damage to the ears and eyes.
Barge Accident Lawyer
There are two main types of barges that we will cover in this section: party barges and large shipping barges. Party barges are often seen on lakes during holidays and warmer months. Unfortunately, many operators and passengers of party barges drink alcohol and engage in reckless behavior. This is a recipe for disaster, and our accident attorneys are here to represent victims of these disasters.
Shipping barges are large, flat-bottomed ships. They are often seen on rivers alongside tug boats and other vessels. Any seaman who suffers injuries has the legal right to pursue compensation under a certain federal law, the Jones Act. Our Jones Act lawyers are ready to fight for compensation for injured seamen and other workers covered by federal maritime law.
Fishing Boat Accident Attorney
Commercial fishing companies have certain responsibilities to their employees. Unfortunately, properly fulfilling these responsibilities requires time and money. Many companies don’t want to spend money, even when it helps to increase safety for their employees. Cutting costs can lead to negligence, which can lead to injured employees. When commercial fishing companies fail to prioritize safety, and an accident occurs, they could be held financially liable for that accident.
Top-Rated Houston Boat Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a boating accident, contact our Houston boat accident lawyers at Reich & Binstock today for a free consultation. You should speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible, as you may only have a limited amount of time to make a claim. Either use our contact form provided below or call 713-622-7271 to schedule your free consultation with us.
There is a never a fee unless we recover on your behalf.