Boating is a favorite pastime in North Texas, where there are dozens of lakes and rivers. With so many people hitting the water, it’s no surprise that there are hundreds of boating accidents each year – many of which are catastrophic.
In fact, Texas is ranked 13th for boating accidents nationwide, according to Captain Experiences, which analyzed data from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Recreational Boating Statistics from 2018 to 2022. During that period, 232 people died on Texas waters, stemming from 1108 accidents, resulting in nearly $12 million in total property damage.
Unfortunately, most boating accidents result from negligence or carelessness, including operator inexperience, alcohol impairment, speeding, improper lookout, or machinery failure. If you have been injured or a loved one killed in a boating accident in North Texas, you may be entitled to substantial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Your next call should be to an experienced North Texas boat accident lawyer.
In this article, the personal injury lawyers at Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group explain common boating or watercraft accidents, the process for recovering compensation, and how our Fort Worth law firm can help – without any upfront or out-of-pocket fees to you.
We handle boating accidents throughout North Texas, including on Lake Texoma, Lewisville Lake, Lake Ray Hubbard, Lake Lavon, Grapevine Lake, Eagle Mountain Lake, Lake Bridgeport, Lake Worth, Lake Granbury, Lake Benbrook, Possum Kingdom, Lake Tawakoni and on the Trinity River and Brazos River.
Types of Boating and Watercraft Accidents
Boating and watercraft accidents can take various forms. Common types of accidents and causes on North Texas lakes, rivers, and waterways include:
Collision with Another Vessel
This is one of the most common types of accidents, where two boats or watercraft hit each other. This can be due to inattentiveness, alcohol influence, poor visibility, or lack of understanding of the right-of-way rules.
Collision with Fixed Object
This refers to accidents where a boat or watercraft hits a stationary object like a dock, buoy, or underwater obstacle such as a rock, reef, or sandbar. It’s often due to inexperience, poor navigation, or boating in unfamiliar waters.
This can occur when a boat is overloaded or when the water conditions are too rough for the size of the boat, causing water to enter the boat and possibly sink it.
This type of accident occurs when a boat hits the bottom of a body of water. This is often due to low tide, boating in shallow waters without knowing the depth, or not paying attention to navigation markers.
These are accidents where a person falls off the boat and into the water. This can be due to slippery conditions, rough waters, lack of proper safety equipment, or risky behavior.
This refers to when a boat flips over in the water, usually due to rough waters, improper weight distribution, or a collision.
Water Skiing Accidents
As water skiing and other towed water sports are popular in Texas, there are accidents related to these activities. This could involve a collision with the boat that’s pulling them, falling and getting injured, or hitting another object in the water.
Jet Ski Accidents
Jet skis or personal watercrafts are smaller and faster, increasing the risk of accidents. These could involve collisions, falls, or issues related to speed and control.
These are accidents where a person is struck by the propeller of a boat, usually when they are in the water and the boat is moving or starting to move. This can be particularly dangerous and lead to serious injuries.
Remember that the best way to prevent accidents is through education, good boating practices, and always wearing life jackets while on the water. If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a boating or watercraft accident stemming from negligence, it’s extremely important to contact an experienced and skilled North Texas boat accident lawyer immediately.
The team at Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group understands the physical, financial, and emotional trauma that a boating accident can cause. Our experienced attorneys have a long track record of helping injured victims and their families recover compensation.
How Boating Accidents Occur: Contributing Factors
Boating accidents in North Texas occur much like they do anywhere else. North Texas includes parts of the Red River, Lake Texoma, Lewisville Lake, Lake Ray Roberts, Eagle Mountain Lake, and a multitude of other bodies of water that are frequented for recreational boating. The accidents range from minor to severe and can result in injury or even death. The contributing factors to these accidents can be diverse and complex. Here are some primary contributing factors:
One of the leading causes of boating accidents in North Texas is the operator’s lack of attention. This could involve distractions from passengers, electronic devices, or even the surrounding scenery.
A significant percentage of boating accidents occur because the operator lacks sufficient knowledge or experience to handle the watercraft in all situations. This could involve not understanding the local waters, weather conditions, or the specific type of watercraft being operated.
An improper or inadequate lookout is a significant contributing factor to boating accidents. The operator alone may not be able to effectively monitor all potential risks, especially when focusing on controlling the vessel. An additional lookout can help spot obstacles, other boats, changes in water conditions, or individuals who fall overboard. Failure to maintain a proper lookout can lead to collisions and other accidents.
Machinery failure, which can be considered a subset of equipment failure, is a common cause of boating accidents. It involves the failure of critical boat machinery, such as engines, steering mechanisms, or navigation equipment. Regular inspection and maintenance can prevent many machinery failure issues. An unexpected machinery failure while underway can cause loss of control, leading to collisions or stranding.
Navigation Rules Violations
The navigation rules, also known as “rules of the road,” are essential for preventing collisions at sea. They dictate the conduct of vessels in relation to each other to avoid accidents. These rules cover a wide range of situations, such as overtaking, crossing paths, and encountering vessels head-on. A significant portion of boating accidents in North Texas can be attributed to violations of these navigation rules. Boaters not understanding or not adhering to these rules can result in dangerous situations leading to accidents.
Boating while intoxicated is a common and serious problem in boating accidents. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance, and coordination, all of which are vital for safe boat operation.
Operating a boat at high speeds can result in accidents, especially if the boat operator does not have enough time to react to obstacles, other boats, or changing water conditions.
Equipment failure is another leading cause of boating accidents. This could involve the motor, steering, or other essential boat equipment. Regular maintenance and checks can prevent many of these accidents.
The weather can change rapidly, especially in North Texas. Sudden storms can create rough waters and strong winds that can easily lead to boating accidents.
Certain areas may have underwater obstacles or shallows that aren’t immediately visible. Navigation in such waters can lead to grounding or collisions.
Boats have specific weight capacities. Overloading with too many passengers or equipment can destabilize the vessel and increase the risk of capsizing.
These contributing factors often intermingle to create a risky situation. Therefore, it’s essential that all boaters undergo proper training, understand the potential risks, ensure their equipment is in good working order, and remain sober and vigilant while operating watercraft. If you or a loved one suffered an injury from a North Texas boating accident due to another person’s recklessness or negligence, contact our experienced attorneys at Varghese Summersett Injury Law Group today for a free consultation to see if you may be entitled to compensation. Our team is here to help guide you through the legal process and get the justice and financial recovery you deserve.
Severe Injuries Caused by Boating Accidents
Boating accidents can result in a wide range of injuries, some of which can be severe or even fatal. Here are some common injuries sustained from boating accidents:
⇒ Drowning: Unfortunately, one of the most common and serious outcomes of boating accidents is drowning, especially if the individuals are not wearing life jackets.
⇒ Hypothermia: If individuals are in cold water for extended periods, hypothermia can set in. It’s a potentially deadly condition where the body’s core temperature drops too low.
⇒ Broken Bones: Due to the impact of collisions or falls, broken bones are common. These can range from simple fractures to compound breaks.
⇒ Head Injuries: Head injuries, including concussions or more severe traumatic brain injuries, can occur if individuals hit their head during a collision or if they are thrown from the boat.
⇒ Spinal Cord Injuries: These can happen due to the impact from a fall or collision and can result in temporary or permanent paralysis.
⇒ Lacerations and Bruises: Sharp objects, broken glass, and even the impact from hitting the water can cause these injuries.
⇒ Burns: These can result from boat fires, explosions, or exposure to hot engine parts.
⇒ Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: In poorly ventilated areas of a boat, carbon monoxide from boat engines can build up and poison individuals.
⇒ Propeller Injuries: Injuries from boat propellers can be very severe, leading to deep cuts, amputations, or even death.
⇒ Sprains and Strains: These can occur as a result of trying to brace for a collision, slips and falls, or moving around on a moving boat.
Any of these injuries can lead to substantial medical bills, loss of income, and reduced quality of life. If you’ve been injured in a boating accident in North Texas and are dealing with mounting medical bills and lost wages, don’t face it alone – reach out to a skilled North Texas boat accident lawyer today to understand your rights and explore your options for compensation.
What to Do After a Boating Accident
Following a boating accident, it is critical to take several steps to protect your health and preserve your right to pursue a successful personal injury claim. Here is some advice from a North Texas boat accident lawyer on what steps to take after a boating accident:
- Ensure Safety: The first and most important step is to ensure the safety of all involved. If possible, move to a safe location away from further harm. Seek immediate medical help for any injuries, even if they seem minor at the time. Some injuries might not show symptoms immediately but could become serious later on.
- Report the Accident: Report the accident to the appropriate authorities as soon as possible. This includes local law enforcement and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, or even the U.S. Coast Guard, depending on the circumstances and location of the accident.
- Collect Evidence: If possible, take photographs or videos of the accident scene, the involved vessels, and any visible injuries. This could be crucial evidence later. Collect the names and contact information of any witnesses, as their statements could support your claim.
- Document Everything: Keep track of all relevant information and documents related to your accident and injuries. This includes medical records, receipts of expenses, and a diary of your physical and emotional health following the accident.
- Avoid Discussing the Accident: Be careful about discussing the accident with anyone other than your lawyer. Any statements you make could potentially be used against you later.
- Follow Medical Advice: Follow the treatment plan recommended by your healthcare providers, and keep all follow-up appointments. This helps your physical recovery and provides a documented record of your injuries and efforts to heal.
- Consult with a Lawyer: Reach out to a North Texas boat accident lawyer as soon as you can after the accident. They can provide advice tailored to your specific situation, help protect your rights, and guide you on the best steps to take to pursue a personal injury claim.
Every boating accident is unique, and the appropriate steps might vary depending on the facts and circumstances. An experienced North Texas boat accident lawyer can provide the best advice on navigating the process based on your specific situation.
Proving Negligence in Boating Accidents
In Texas, as with most jurisdictions, negligence must be proven for a personal injury claim to be successful. Negligence is the failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in a similar situation. It involves doing something that a person should not do, or failing to do something that a person should do.
To prove negligence in a personal injury claim in Texas, you generally need to demonstrate the following four elements:
You must show that the defendant owed a legal duty to you under the circumstances. For instance, a boat operator has a duty to operate their vessel safely to prevent harm to others.
You must show that the defendant breached this duty. This could be through actions or a failure to act. For example, if a boat operator was operating their vessel while intoxicated, they have breached their duty of care.
You must prove that the defendant’s breach of duty caused your injury. In other words, had the defendant not breached their duty, you would not have been injured. This element often requires expert testimony to link the breach of duty directly to the injury.
Finally, you must show that you suffered damages due to the injury. This can be physical harm, but also includes things like medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.
Evidence to prove negligence can come from various sources, such as accident reports, eyewitness testimony, expert witnesses, photographs or video of the scene, medical reports linking the injury to the accident, and any other documentation that supports your claim.
Keep in mind that Texas operates under a modified comparative fault rule, meaning that if you’re found to be partially at fault for your injuries, your compensation can be reduced by the percentage of your fault. If you’re more than 50 percent at fault, you may not recover any compensation.
Given the complexities of personal injury law and the challenges of proving negligence, it is essential to consult with an experienced North Texas boat accident lawyer to review your case and advise you on the best course of action.
Compensation for North Texas Boating Accidents
Compensation after a boating accident can be categorized into three main types: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
These are tangible, out-of-pocket expenses and losses that the plaintiff has incurred as a result of the injury. They are typically easier to quantify than other types of damages because they involve actual amounts of money the plaintiff had to pay or income the plaintiff did not receive because of the injury. Economic damages can include things like:
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity
- Property damage
- Rehabilitation and therapy costs
- Costs of in-home care and equipment
These damages aim to compensate the plaintiff for intangible losses that do not typically come with a receipt or invoice. They are more subjective and can be harder to quantify. They can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Disfigurement and physical impairment
Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages are not meant to compensate the plaintiff for a loss. Instead, they are meant to punish the defendant for particularly reckless or negligent behavior and to deter similar conduct in the future. Not all personal injury cases result in punitive damages, as they typically require proof that the defendant’s actions were malicious, grossly negligent, or intentionally harmful.
The amount and type of compensation you can recover in a personal injury case will depend on many factors, including the nature and severity of your injuries, the specifics of the case, the defendant’s conduct, and the applicable laws in your jurisdiction. It is recommended to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to discuss your case and potential for recovery.
How a North Texas Boat Accident Lawyer Can Help
A North Texas boat accident lawyer can provide invaluable assistance if you’ve been injured in a boating accident. Here’s how they can help:
Investigation and Evidence Gathering: Your attorney can conduct a thorough investigation of the accident. They will gather all necessary evidence, which may include accident reports, medical records, witness statements, and expert testimony. They can also arrange for an accident reconstruction, if necessary, to better understand the mechanics of the accident.
Understanding the Law: Boating accidents can involve complex legal issues, and your attorney will have a deep understanding of both maritime and Texas state laws that apply to your case. This expertise is crucial to build a strong case and to ensure all legal avenues for compensation are explored.
Negotiation with Insurance Companies: Dealing with insurance companies can be challenging and often requires skilled negotiation to obtain fair compensation. Your attorney will communicate and negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
Proving Negligence and Liability: Your attorney will work to establish the negligence of the other party involved in the accident. This can involve demonstrating that the other party breached their duty of care, which led to the accident and your injuries.
Evaluation of Damages: A lawyer can help accurately value your claim by considering all your damages, including medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and more. They can also include future costs, such as ongoing medical treatment or future lost earnings.
Representation in Court: If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your attorney can represent you in court. They will present your case, examine and cross-examine witnesses, and argue on your behalf to seek the justice you deserve.
In essence, a North Texas boat accident lawyer is an advocate who will fight for your rights and seek the maximum compensation available under the law. They will provide guidance and support throughout the legal process, helping to ease the burden during this difficult time.
Speak to a North Texas Boat Accident Lawyer
If you were injured or someone you love was killed in a boating accident due to someone else’s negligence, it’s important to contact a North Texas boat accident lawyer as soon as possible. We can help. At Varghese Summersweet Injury Law Group, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial trauma a boating accident can cause. We have a successful track record of helping injured victims and their families recover compensation after a negligent accident.
Importantly, we operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay anything until we win your case. We also offer free consultation, which means you will never pay anything upfront or out of pocket. Remember, time is of the essence. Call us today at (817) 207-4878 (HURT).
FAQs About Boat Accident Injury Cases
It is the responsibility of each boat operator who is involved in an accident to contact Texas Park and Wildlife Department or your nearest law enforcement agency of the accident within 30 days of the incident if:
- Results in death; (within 48 hours) or
- Injuries to a person requiring medical treatment beyond first aid; or
- Causes damage to vessel(s) or property in excess of $2000.00
To report an accident contact your local game warden, local law enforcement agency, or call TPWD 24 hour police communications operator at (512) 389-4848.
In Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases, including boating accidents, is generally two years from the date of the accident. However, there may be exceptions or nuances to this rule depending on the specifics of your case. For the most accurate advice, contact Varghese Summersett at (817) 207-4878.
Insurance plays a significant role in boating accident cases. Depending on the insurance policy of the boat operator, compensation may be claimed for injuries, property damage, or loss of life. It’s important to consult with a knowledgeable boating accident lawyer to understand how insurance policies apply in your specific case.
Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, negligence in boating accidents may be established by proving that the boat operator failed to exercise the proper care or broke a specific law or regulation, causing the accident and resulting in injuries or damages.
Damages in a Texas boating accident case can include economic damages for medical expenses and lost income; non-economic damages for pain and suffering; and, in some cases, punitive damages if the defendant’s behavior was particularly egregious.
Yes, under Texas’ Modified Comparative Negligence law, you can recover damages as long as you are not more than 50 percent at fault. The amount you can recover will be reduced by the percentage of your fault.
The value of a personal injury case can vary widely and depends on a number of factors, including:
- Severity of Injury: As a general rule, the more severe your injuries, the higher the potential value of your case. More severe injuries typically require more extensive medical treatment, may result in longer periods of time off work, and can have a greater impact on your quality of life.
- Medical Expenses: The cost of medical treatment, both past and future, is a significant factor in determining the value of your claim. This includes the costs of emergency room visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medication, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and any anticipated future medical expenses.
- Lost Income: If your injury has caused you to miss work or reduced your ability to work in the future, you can claim these lost wages and loss of earning capacity.
- Pain and Suffering: These are non-economic damages that you’ve suffered as a result of your injuries. They can be difficult to quantify, but they’re meant to compensate you for the physical pain and emotional distress you’ve experienced.
- Punitive Damages: In some cases where the defendant’s behavior was particularly egregious, punitive damages may be awarded. These are intended to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future.
- Liability: The more clearly liability can be established, the greater the potential value of your claim. If there’s some question as to whether the other party was at fault, or if you share some degree of fault, it could reduce the value of your claim.
- Insurance Coverage: The amount of insurance coverage available can also impact the value of your claim. Even if your injuries and damages are substantial, the defendant’s insurance policy limits may cap the amount you can recover.
Given the complexity of these factors, it’s important to consult with a personal injury lawyer who can review the specifics of your case and provide an estimated value. Remember, each case is unique, and past outcomes don’t guarantee future results. It’s also important to keep in mind that a lawyer should not promise you a specific outcome or monetary amount at the outset, as this practically impossible to predict with certainty.
A lawyer can help you understand your rights, evaluate your claim, collect evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court if necessary. They can provide the necessary expertise to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
It’s advised to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after a boating accident. Prompt legal advice can help ensure crucial evidence is preserved and your claim is filed within the legal deadline. Reach out to Varghese Summersett today at (817) 207-4878.