Every day, Houston, TX residents take to the waters of Trinity and Galveston Bay as well as the Gulf of Mexico for fun in the sun and on the waves. Unfortunately, these aquatic excursions often end in injury. In 2015, the Coast Guard tallied up $42 million worth of property damage and 626 fatalities as the result of recreational boating accidents.
Boating accidents can also happen onboard commercial vessels or during work at sea. While worker’s compensation and the Jones Act may help those injured in employment settings, recreational boating accidents fall under the purview of personal injury laws. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, you may be wondering if you have any legal options to compensate for your injuries.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU ARE INJURED BY A BOATER?
If your injuries are the result of someone else’s reckless or illegal behavior, you may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Similar to motor vehicles on land, boaters must operate their vehicles safely and never under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Operators of seaworthy vessels are also responsible for the safety of their passengers. This extends to secure fixtures on the vessel and having the necessary safety equipment, such as life jackets.
As with any other personal injury claim, your success in obtaining compensation will hinge upon your ability to establish that the defendant was negligent in his or her actions. Proving negligence requires demonstrating three things to the court:
- The defendant owed you a duty to act with reasonable care. In boating accidents, this means that boat operators must comply with all maritime and local laws for operating their vessels and have all required safety equipment onboard.
- The defendant breached this duty in some way. This could mean he or she was operating a vessel while drunk or left his or her boat in such a state of disrepair that it posed an obvious safety hazard and resulted in another person’s injury.
- The plaintiff’s injuries were the direct result of this breach. You must establish that your injuries would not have happened had the defendant exercised reasonable caution.
Boating accidents can be deadly in the right circumstances. If a boat strikes a swimmer and knocks him or her unconscious, even the strongest person could quickly and easily slip below the surface and drown. A safety hazard onboard the vessel can result in a fire or other emergency, putting the passengers of the vessel at risk. Crashing a boat into another vessel can also result in serious injuries.
SEEK RELIABLE LEGAL COUNSEL
One of the most important things you can do once you have settled after your injury is to get in touch with an attorney who can fully and aggressively defend your rights. Depending on the nature of your boating accident, your case may entail much more than just personal injury law. A defective boat part or piece of safety equipment may necessitate a product liability claim against the manufacturer. An accident a drunken boat operator caused may result in punitive damages for the criminal behavior.
The Nielsen Law Firm in Houston, TX has over 30 years of experience handling all types of legal issues. We believe in aggressive and thorough legal representation for all of our clients, no matter how complex their cases may be. We strive to obtain the maximum possible settlement without going to trial, but we never back down from intense litigation. We will take any case to court for as long as possible if needed. Reach out to our team for a free initial consultation or if you have any questions about Texas boating laws.