In Texas, hundreds of people are injured and many people are killed each year in boating accidents. The injuries and deaths are caused from boat crashes, water ski accidents, jet ski wrecks, and on cruise ships. Many of these accidents are caused due to the negligence of the watercraft operator, such as reckless driving, operator inexperience, failure to pay attention, or boating while intoxicated.
LACK OF TRAINING
Many accidents and deaths occur on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction. Boater Education Course is required in Texas for anyone born on or after September 1, 1993 to operate a personal watercraft or motorboat with a motor greater than 15 horse power.
Operating a watercraft without having taken the required safety instruction is not only dangerous but also illegal.
Distracted driving of a boat is often the cause of accidents. Examples of distracted driving by boat drivers often include the following:
- Talking on or using a cellphone
- Eating or drinking
- Talking to boat occupants
BOATING WHILE INTOXICATED
Alcohol or drug consumption is the cause of many boating accidents. In fact, alcohol plays a role in 50% of all boating accidents. In addition to alcohol and illegal drugs, a boat driver can also be intoxicated through prescription and over the counter medication, or a combination of all of the above. Not only is boating while intoxicated illegal (Texas Penal Code Section 49.06 provides that if convicted, one can be jailed for up to 180 days, fined up to $2,000, or both, and their drivers’ license may be suspended), it is extremely irresponsible and dangerous.
At times, the boat driver gets intoxicated in a bar or restaurant at which the boat was docked and then causes a boat accident. Under the Texas Dram Shop statute (Texas Alcoholic Beverages Code §§2.01—2.03), the sellers and licensed providers of alcoholic beverages are liable for injuries caused by the intoxication of persons to whom they provided alcoholic beverages. Alcohol sellers and providers may be liable if they served alcohol to a customer who was obviously intoxicated, and the customer’s intoxication resulted in injuries or death.
Alcohol sellers and providers may also be held responsible for any injuries that result from providing alcohol to minors (persons under age 18). Although non-commercial social hosts generally have little liability in Texas with regard to damages caused by adult guests who become intoxicated, social hosts can be statutorily liable when they supply alcohol to under-age drinkers who then cause injuries (Tex. Alc. Bev. Code § 2.02).
In certain cases, factors unrelated to a boat driver’s conduct can cause a boat accident. Under the law of product liability, the boat manufacturer, supplier, or dealer may be responsible for injuries caused by a defective or unsafe part in the boat. Also, if a mechanic fails to properly repair a boat, and the failure causes an accident, the negligent mechanic and the repair shop may be liable for injuries sustained in the boat accident.
We will investigate the contributing cause(s) of a boat accident to ensure that you receive full compensation for your injuries.
The law may also impose punitive or exemplary damages against the at-fault boat driver for malicious or grossly negligent conduct. To be liable for gross negligence, the driver must have disregarded a high risk of causing substantial harm to others. Although excessive speed by itself may not show gross negligence, excessive speed combined with other factors – such as boating while intoxicated – may be sufficient to prove gross negligence.
COMPENSATION FOR BOAT ACCIDENTS
In Texas, the person at fault for causing a boat accident is liable for:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses;
- Lost income or wages due to time away from work;
- Any property damage, such as damage to your boat or other personal property;
- The cost of hiring someone to do household chores while you are unable to do them;
- Any permanent disfigurement and disability;
- Emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, and any interference with family relationships;
- Pain and suffering;
- Any other costs that were a direct result of your injury.
Evidence used to prove a boat injury claim often include:
- The boats involved in the accident
- Photographs and video tapes of the accident scene and the boats
- Investigative reports
- Medical reports documenting injuries
- Testimony of drivers, passengers, witnesses, law enforcement and emergency personnel with knowledge of the accident
- Testimony from accident reconstructionists, investigators, engineers, mechanics, and other technical experts regarding the cause, mechanics, and effects of the accident
- Testimony from doctors and other medical caregivers, medical specialists, rehabilitation and occupational therapists, mental health professionals and others experts regarding the cause and extent of physical and mental injuries.
Call for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a boat accident, call the Law Offices of Alexander M. Gurevich at (713) 224-9600. We will also deal with the legal matters, so that you can concentrate on your medical treatment and the recovery from your injuries. If necessary, we can also help you find appropriate medical specialists to provide treatment. We may be able to arrange for your medical care providers to wait for payment until your case is resolved.
Your initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we work on a contingent fee basis. This means you pay for our services only when you receive a monetary award or recovery of funds.