Austin Boating Accident Lawyer
Summer is a time when many families enjoy boating on Lake Austin or taking the Jet Ski out for a spin on Lake Travis. But these recreational activities are not without risk.
According to the 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics, a publication of the U.S Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety, Texas was the site of 154 boating accidents in 2015. Of those accidents, 39 were fatal, killing 44 people. Many of these accidents can be attributed to a lack of safety training, inattention, inexperience, and excessive speed, and the leading cause of fatal boat crashes is alcohol.
If a boating accident injured or killed a member of your family, or if you were injured in a boat crash, you may be entitled to compensation to cover your medical costs, ongoing expenses, and loss of income. Don’t wait to get help. Call the Evans/Reilley Law Firm today to ask for your free consultation: 1-855-414-1012.
The Dangers of Alcohol and Boating
The boating statistics report showed that in 2015, alcohol was a factor in 260 boating accidents nationwide, resulting in 228 injuries and 91 deaths. Some boat owners think that drinking alcohol has no effect on their ability to operate a boat; however, a speed boat can move as fast as a car and has a longer stopping distance, so an impaired operator may react too slowly to avoid hitting an object in the boat’s path. And a personal watercraft, such as a Jet Ski or WaveRunner, needs a minimum of 250 feet to come to a complete stop, when traveling at full speed.
Texas Boating Laws
Texas game wardens and marine safety enforcement officers may arrest any operator of a boat or personal watercraft who has a blood alcohol level exceeding 0.08 percent. Such an arrest can result in an immediate suspension of one’s driver’s license, 180 days in jail and/or a $2,000 fine.
In 2014, a court sentenced a 24-year-old Baytown man to pay a $10,000 fine and serve two concurrent six-year prison terms for manslaughter and aggravated assault, stemming from a boat crash on Memorial Day two years earlier. The man’s alcohol consumption and reckless operation of his boat were cited as factors in the crash that killed one person and injured another.
During holiday weekends, boating accidents tend to increase, due to operator intoxication, inexperience, and the presence of more boats. Texas game wardens increase enforcement efforts during those weekends, looking for intoxicated and reckless boaters. In 2014, they arrested 58 intoxicated boaters on July 4 weekend and a total of 163 intoxicated boaters by the end of the year.
Operator inattention was the primary cause of 551 fatal U.S. boating crashes in 2015, followed by operator inexperience, which caused 458 crashes. In Texas, anyone born after Sept. 1, 1993, must take a boater education course to operate most motorboats, sailboats, and personal watercraft and must carry a Boater Education Card as proof of completed boater education courses. But even experienced, educated boaters are at risk of a crash, because open waters have no traffic controls.
In 2016, two experienced operators of bass boats collided during a fishing tournament on Lake Conroe, because each boater thought the other boat was preparing to pass. One man died in that accident. In 2014, a sharp, blind curve was believed to be a factor in a boating crash on the Angelina River that killed two people.
The Importance of Life Jackets
Drowning is the leading cause of death in all boating crashes, and in 2015, of the 428 people in the U.S. who drowned in boating crashes, 352 had not been wearing a life vest.
A strong swimmer may not feel that wearing a life jacket is necessary, but when a boat operator or passenger is knocked into the water and is injured or loses consciousness, a life jacket may keep the victim afloat until help arrives.
Boats under 16 feet in length must carry one life vest for each person on board, and vessels longer than 16 feet must do the same, as well as carry a throwable flotation device. Boat owners who ignore these rules put their passengers at risk.
Helping the Injured
Liability insurance is not mandatory for boat owners in Texas, which means when a serious boating accident occurs, injury victims often struggle to find a means of covering their medical costs. The Evans/Reilley Law Firm understands how to pursue compensation for the injured, even if a boat owner has no insurance.
If you need help with your boating accident injuries, contact us today via our online form or at 1-855-414-1012.