Boat accidents in Texas
Texas is ranked 13th in the USA in boating fatalities according to Captain Experiences. Using U.S. Coast Guard Recreational boating statistics, the study found that 232 people died on Texas waters in 1,108 accidents resulting in $12 million dollars in property damage from 2018-2022.
Boat accidents in Texas are common due to the state’s numerous lakes, rivers, and coastal areas attract boaters and water enthusiasts. These accidents often result in injuries, fatalities, property damage, and environmental concerns. Some common causes of boat accidents in Texas include:
Operator inattention or inexperience:
Many boat accidents occur due to the operator’s lack of attention to the surroundings or inadequate boating experience.
Operating a boat at high speeds can increase the risk of collisions and loss of control.
Alcohol or drug use:
Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal and a significant contributor to boating accidents.
Adverse weather conditions, such as strong winds, heavy rain, or fog, can contribute to boat accidents.
Mechanical issues or equipment failures can lead to accidents and put the safety of passengers at risk.
Lack of navigation aids:
Insufficient or improperly maintained navigational aids can lead to collisions with fixed objects or other vessels.
Reckless or negligent behavior:
Unsafe actions such as reckless driving, wake jumping, or engaging in dangerous stunts can result in accidents.
Overloading a boat beyond its recommended capacity can lead to instability and sinking.
Failure to observe rules and regulations:
Ignoring boating regulations, such as speed limits or right-of-way rules, can lead to accidents.
Collisions with submerged objects:
Collisions with submerged rocks, trees, or other obstacles can cause serious damage to boats and injuries to passengers.
If you are involved in a boat accident in Texas, it’s essential to take the following steps immediately:
- Ensure the safety of all passengers and administer first aid if necessary.
- Report the accident to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or local law enforcement, as required by law.
- Exchange information with other boat operators involved in the accident, including names, contact information, and boat registration numbers.
- Gather evidence, such as photos of the accident scene, boat damage, and any injuries sustained.
- Seek medical attention for any injuries, even if they seem minor, as some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
- Contact your insurance company to report the accident and discuss the next steps for filing a claim.
- If there are injuries or significant property damage, consider consulting a personal injury lawyer with experience in boating accidents to protect your legal rights and seek appropriate compensation.
Boating safety is essential to prevent accidents. Always follow boating regulations, wear life jackets, avoid alcohol while operating a boat, and be aware of your surroundings to ensure a safe and enjoyable boating experience in Texas.
Boating when Drinking Alcohol:
When people head out on the water on a hot summer day, many enjoy packing a cooler of their favorite alcoholic beverages or stopping at a restaurant on the water for a few cocktails. However, controlling a boat while under the influence (BUI) of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Texas. Here is what you need to know before the warm weather hits.
Boating vs. Driving Under the Influence
Many of the same rules that apply to DUIs apply to boating incidents. In recent years, sheriff’s departments and other law enforcement officers have really been cracking down on boaters who operate their watercraft while drinking. If they stop you and you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.08, you will go to jail. Unlike a vehicle stop, law enforcement does not need probable cause to stop a boat on the water. A law enforcement officer may also apprehend you or follow you back to shore if he or she believes your faculties have been impaired.
Who Makes Arrests on the Water?
Any law enforcement agency present on the water is authorized to make arrests for boating under the influence. Many boaters wrongly believe that only a sheriff’s department can make the arrest, but if a game warden from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department suspects a driver is boating under the influence, he or she can make that call. Every holiday weekend during the summer, the department makes several BUI arrests.
Can I Drink and Operate Any Watercraft?
Under the law, you should watch your alcohol consumption on any motorized watercraft. If you do choose to drink on the water, an activity that is inherently dangerous, make sure that you have a designated driver who meets all the requirements of operating a boat. A law enforcement officer can take action if he or she believes someone under the influence has or will be in control of the watercraft. Crafts without motors and under a certain size are excluded from BUI laws, but you could face a public intoxication charge in certain circumstances. You will not face BUI charges for operating a rowboat, floating in an inner tube, or paddling a kayak or canoe.
Who Can Operate a Watercraft on Lakes and Rivers in Texas?
Children who are at least 13 and have passed an approved boater education course can operate a vessel alone. However, if law enforcement has reason to believe that the child is not certified or was not in control of the boat, they may still question and/or arrest an adult for BUI.
Should I Avoid Drinking Altogether?
Most boating experts recommend avoiding drinking on the water in general. Drinking in the sun increases the risk of dehydration and the chances of water related accidents. However, you should definitely avoid drinking if you plan to operate the boat. Do not give law enforcement any reason to believe you were, or might, operate the boat after drinking. On the water, most stops are for routine safety checks involving life vests and other required boating items. As long as you are polite and do not show signs of potential intoxication, they will likely thank you and move on.
What if I See Someone Boating Under the Influence?
If you see someone behaving erratically on the water, give the craft a wide berth, and note the boat’s registration numbers. Contact law enforcement, and let them handle it. Boating accidents are often tragic, and those caused by careless behaviors such as drinking are entirely preventable. Call: The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. for questions involving BUI accidents. Call 210-435-7968 or visit our website https://www.InjuryAttorneyofTexas.com.
Are Boating accidents dangerous
Yes, boating accidents can be dangerous and have the potential to cause serious injuries, fatalities, and property damage. Boats operate in an environment that involves various inherent risks, including water conditions, weather changes, and other vessels in close proximity. Some factors that contribute to the danger of boating accidents include:
Collisions with other boats, fixed objects, or even large waves can result in significant impact forces, leading to injuries to occupants or ejection from the boat.
The risk of drowning is a significant concern in boating accidents, especially if individuals are not wearing life jackets or are thrown overboard and unable to swim.
Ejection from the boat:
A sudden collision or sharp turn can cause occupants to be ejected from the boat, leading to serious injuries or even drowning.
Boat propellers can cause severe injuries if someone falls overboard or comes into contact with the spinning propeller.
Fire and explosions:
Boats with fuel systems and engines carry the risk of fire and explosions in the event of a fuel leak or other malfunctions.
Accidents in cold water can quickly lead to hypothermia, especially if individuals are not wearing appropriate protective gear.
Boating accidents can occur in remote areas, making rescue and medical assistance more challenging and time-consuming.
To reduce the risk of boating accidents and ensure safety on the water, it’s essential to follow boating regulations, use life jackets, avoid alcohol while operating a boat, maintain a proper lookout, and adhere to safe navigation practices. Boating safety education and training can also play a significant role in preventing accidents and promoting responsible boating practices.
Remember that even though boating can be enjoyable and a great way to spend time with friends and family, safety should always be a top priority to minimize the dangers associated with boating accidents.