San Antonio Boat Accident Lawyer
Boat Accidents in San Antonio, TX
In many ways, boating is just as dangerous as driving a car, if not moreso. Most people do not party or drink alcohol in the car, yet this is often the case on boats, especially during the heat of the summer. All drivers on the roads have to pass a series of tests to get a license, so most drivers know how to stay safe. This is not always the case for boaters. Many are very uneducated when it comes to boat operation and safety. And lastly, boats are obviously surrounded by water, which can be a major hazard whether you know how to swim well or not. Even a small mistake on a boat can result in catastrophic injuries, drownings, and death. The good news is that victims can take legal recourse through a boat accident lawsuit, and a San Antonio boat accident lawyer can help.
If you or a loved one has suffered catastrophic injuries or wrongful death due to a boating accident, you could file a civil lawsuit. Our experienced San Antonio personal injury lawyers have extensive knowledge of the law. We have what it takes to help you recover compensation for your injury. Call 210-366-4949 to schedule a free consultation with our legal team today.
2021 Boat Accident Statistics
In 2021 alone, 4,439 boating accidents occurred resulting in 2,641 injuries, 658 deaths, and $67.5 million in property damage according to data from the U.S. Coast Guard.
Drowning was the leading cause of death in boating accidents that year, accounting for 81% of boater deaths. 83% of these drowning victims were not wearing life jackets at the time of their death.
Intoxicated boat operation also played a large role in boating injuries and deaths in 2021. In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard states that boating under the influence of alcohol was the leading cause of death in 16% of fatal boating accident cases in 2021.
Lastly, the U.S. Coast Guard states that boat operator inexperience played a large role in boat accidents in 2021, with 75% of deaths occurring because the boat operator was not properly informed on safety equipment and/or procedures.
Common Causes of Boat Accidents
A boating collision can involve any type of recreational or personal watercraft, such as jet skis, motorboats, and even kayaks or canoes.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, most boating accidents happen due to operator inattention, improper lookout, defective equipment, and excessive speed. Other possible causes of boat accidents include:
- Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Inexperienced boat operators
- Not following right-of-ways rules on the water
- General reckless or distracted driving
- Busy waterways
- Poor weather conditions
- Overloading the boat with people and/or equipment
- Failing to properly anchor the boat
- Fires caused by spilled fuel or vapor igniting
Is it Illegal to Operate a Boat While Intoxicated in Texas?
Yes, boating while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs is illegal according to Texas law (Texas Penal Code Section 49.06). A boater is considered intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher.
Being intoxicated behind the wheel of a boat is just as dangerous as being intoxicated behind the wheel of a car, if not moreso. This is because sun exposure is dehydrating, which further exacerbates the effects of alcohol or drugs. Additionally, boats are constantly rocking from the waves, which can make the disorientation effects of alcohol or drugs worse. Lastly, boaters are surrounded by water. Even if all the boaters can swim well, their reflexes will be slower, their sense of direction under the water will be significantly diminished, and their movements may not be as coordinated. Therefore, the risk of drowning during a boating accident is much higher for those that are intoxicated.
BUI Penalties in Texas
In Texas, boat operators can face serious penalties for boating while intoxicated just like they can for driving a car while intoxicated. Penalties often vary depending on the facts of the boat accident claim and how many BWI offenses the boater has committed previously.
The first offense of boating while intoxicated is considered a class B misdemeanor in Texas unless you injure or kill someone in the process. The penalty for just being caught boating while intoxicated is a maximum fine of $2,000 and 72 hours to 180 days in jail.
Causing serious bodily injury while boating under the influence (also known as intoxication assault) is a third-degree felony in Texas. Penalties for this felony include 2 to 10 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
Causing death while boating under the influence (also known as intoxication manslaughter) is considered a second-degree felony in Texas. Penalties include 2 to 10 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
A second BWI offense is considered a class A misdemeanor in Texas. Penalties include jail time of 30 days to 1 year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines.
Lastly, a third (or subsequent) BWI offense is considered a third-degree felony in Texas. Penalties include 2 to 10 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
Common Boat Accident Injuries
Common personal injuries sustained in boating accidents include:
- TBI such as a subdural hematoma brain injury or a coup-contrecoup brain injury from drowning or hitting the head. Many TBI victims go onto develop long-term complications and disabilities, such as post-concussion syndrome. Call San Antonio traumatic brain injury attorneys to learn about your legal options.
- Skull and facial fractures.
- Eye damage or vision loss.
- Spinal cord injuries and/or paralysis. San Antonio spinal cord injury lawyers or San Antonio paralysis lawyers can help you seek justice and fair compensation.
- Nerve damage.
- Internal injuries.
- Major scarring, bruising, burns, and/or lacerations.
- Finger, toe, or limb amputations. Any type of traumatic amputation can lead to long-term mobility issues and complications, which is why it’s so important to contact a San Antonio amputation attorney to learn about your legal options.
- Broken bones.
If you or someone you love has suffered one of the aforementioned injuries due to a negligent boater, you have grounds to contact San Antonio boating accident lawyers at Janicek Law. You may be able to claim compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
When Should You Report a Boating Accident in Texas?
According to Texas law (Parks and Wildlife Code Section 31.105), you must report that a boat accident occurred if:
- The accident resulted in a major injury (that required emergency medical attention),
- The accident resulted in a death or a missing person,
- Or the accident resulted in more than $2,000 of property damage.
These boating laws mandate that you must report the accident to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department within 30 days. If the accident resulted in a death or a missing person, you must report it within 48 hours.
How to Report a Boating Accident in Texas
In order to report a boating accident to authorities, you must contact local police or the local game warden. You can also contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at 800-792-1112 or 512-389-4848 for 24 hour dispatch.
From there, you may be asked to submit an accident report which includes all the details of the boat accident. It’s a good idea to include the following information:
- Your name and contact information
- Date, time, and location of the accident
- The name and contact information of the boat operator (if the boat operator is not you)
- Names and contact information of the people on the other boats involved
- The identification number of your boat and the other vessels involved in the accident
- Names and contact information of any injury victims
- Names and contact information of any deceased victims
Once you complete and submit your accident report, you should call a San Antonio boating accident attorney at Janicek Law. We will carefully review all the details of your case and protect your legal rights during this difficult time.
Can You Sue for a Boating Accident?
Yes, you can definitely sue if a boat accident occurred due to negligence, especially if the accident resulted in major injury, death, and/or property damage. Boating accidents are physically, emotionally, and financially devastating. The person at-fault for the accident should definitely be held liable through a boat accident lawsuit.
Just like any other personal injury case (or wrongful death case), a certain degree of negligence must be proven in order to achieve financial recovery in a boat accident case. San Antonio boat accident lawyers at Janicek Law can help you prove the 4 Ds of negligence:
- Duty of Care: All boaters owe each other a duty of care to keep each other safe on the water. This means maintaining proper lookout, being sober, driving carefully, and following the speed limits.
- Breached Duty of Care: The boater acted negligently in some way, therefore breaching this duty of care.
- Causation: The boater directly caused a boat injury or death because they acted negligently.
- Damages: The victim(s) suffered a wide variety of damages during the boating accident, and therefore, they should be fully compensated.
A San Antonio boating accident lawyer at our law office can help victims prove these elements of negligence by first investigating the details of the boat accident claim and then gathering evidence to support the claim. Evidence can include your initial 911 call and accident report, pictures of property damage, pictures of all injuries, medical records, records of lost wages, witness statements, statements from people on the other boat, BAC records (if alcohol was involved) etc.
Boating Accident Damages
A boat accident lawyer at Janicek Law can help victims recover fair compensation for the following types of damages:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future rehabilitative bills
- Expenses associated with necessary medical equipment like wheelchairs and other assistive devices
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity if the injuries prevent the victim from completing their normal job duties
- Mental health counseling bills
- Emotional distress
- Physical pain and suffering
- Permanent scarring, disfigurement, or disability
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Funeral and burial expenses if the boating accident resulted in wrongful death
- Punitive damages
If you have questions about non-economic damages, such as: what is loss of consortium worth? A San Antonio emotional distress lawyer at Janicek Law can answer these questions and more during your free consultation.
Statute of Limitations for Boat Accidents in Texas
A statute of limitations is a federal law that tells victims how long they have to file personal injury cases and wrongful death cases. Each state has a different statute of limitations for different civil wrongdoings.
In Texas, injured victims have 2 years from the date of their accident to file a personal injury claim or a wrongful death claim against the negligent party. If a victim waits longer than 2 years to file their claim, it can be dismissed entirely.
This is a short time frame, especially because civil lawsuits can be lengthy. That’s why it’s so important for victims to contact our experienced boating accident attorneys as soon as possible after the accident. We will get started on your claim immediately so that you can receive fair compensation sooner rather than later.
Call a San Antonio Boat Accident Lawyer at Janicek Law Today
If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic injury or wrongful death from a boating accident caused by negligence, you may have grounds to file a civil lawsuit. Our legal team can take on anything from recreational boat accidents to jet ski accidents. With decades of combined experience under our belt, you can trust that we’ll handle all boating accident claims with care and compassion. Call our experienced boating accident attorneys at 210-366-4949 to schedule a free initial consultation today.