Austin Boating Accident Lawyers
Do you need a lawyer for a boating accident in or around Austin? Michael P. Fleming is a specialist in Texas personal injury law and can help you. The Texas Board of Legal Specialization certifies that he is a specialist. Call Michael P. Fleming & Associates today to discuss any boat accident injury case question you might have. It is a totally free consultation so call today.
Mild winters, hot summers and bright sunny days make Texas a hotspot for boating. In fact, there are more than 580,000 registered boats in the Lone Star State. Austin offers many opportunities for boating and other activities on the water.
The Colorado River is dammed in several locations around Austin to give locals plenty of opportunities to enjoy the water, including:
- Lake Austin
- Lady Bird Lake
- Lake Travis
While boating can be a safe and enjoyable experience, there is still a risk of accident and injury.
If you were injured in a boating accident caused by someone else’s negligence, an Austin boating accident lawyer can help you seek compensation for your:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
The skilled and experienced attorneys at Michael P. Fleming & Associates have decades of experience handling boating accidents in the Austin area and all of Texas.
Call us today at (512)-877-6804 to schedule a consultation and speak to an experienced attorney.
Boating Operator Requirements in Austin
Anyone aged 13 and older can operate a boat in Austin or anywhere else in Texas as long as they pass a boater’s education course approved by Texas Parks and Wildlife.
If you are required to have a Boater Education Card, you must carry that card on board your vessel.
Texas law enforcement officers patrol Austin’s waterways to make sure boaters enjoy a safe, pleasant experience. If you are not carrying your Boater Education Card, you may be fined and other complications may arise if you are involved in a boating accident.
Common Causes of Boating Accidents and Injuries
The Austin Police Department Lake Patrol Unit patrols Lady Bird Lake and Lake Austin. Much like law enforcement on city streets and highways, the lake patrol unit ensures that boaters are safe and following laws and regulations.
Failure to follow these laws can result in accidents. Some of the most common causes of boating injuries include:
Lack of Restraints
Boat operators and passengers can suffer serious injuries in boating accidents because, unlike with motor vehicles, they are not required to wear any restraints. Without any restraints, passengers may be propelled out of the boat on impact or into other objects on the vessel.
Failure to Wear Life Jackets
Life jackets are required by law for passengers under the age of 13, but adults and older teens may choose to ignore this important safety measure. Drownings and near-drowning injuries may occur when passengers choose not to wear life vests.
When people are out on the water enjoying the weather, alcohol will often be part of the mix. But just like with driving a vehicle on land, alcohol impairs your ability to operate a boat or any other watercraft. Operating a boat while impaired is also illegal.
According to data from the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is the leading cause of all boating accidents. Many of these accidents happen between the hours of 12pm and 7pm on weekends.
Anyone operating a boat with a blood alcohol level of 0.8 or higher can be arrested for Boating While Intoxicated (BWI), which has a penalty of:
- Up to 180 days in jail
- Fine of up to $2,000
Although waterways are more open and have less traffic than city streets, speeding can still greatly increase the risk of an accident. In fact, traveling at excessive speeds in a watercraft is illegal in Texas.
Bringing a boat to a stop is more challenging than bringing a vehicle to a stop a city street. Speeding makes it more difficult to react in time to prevent a collision with another boat, rocks, bridge or other object.
When a speeding boat collides with another object, the injuries can be devastating or deadly.
Improper Boat Handling or Lack of Training
Under Texas law, all boat operators over the age of 13 must pass a boater’s education course. Anyone who violates this law puts their lives and the lives of other boaters at risk.
Improper handling and lack of training can result in serious accidents and injuries.
Violating Texas Safe Boating Laws
Boating laws are designed to keep boaters as safe as possible. Violations of these laws – whether it’s speeding, reckless operation, obstructing passages or operating a watercraft while impaired – increases the risk of an accident and injuries.
Ordinances restrict the use of large boats on Lady Bird Lake, a popular spot for water activities, because it is located in downtown Austin. Only small boats with a maximum 5HP motor can be used on the lake. Violating this ordinance increases the risk of an accident because Lady Bird Lake is often crowded with watercraft, rowers, kayaks, canoes and rowing sculls.
Overcrowding, Man-Overboard and Propeller Injuries
Many boat injuries are caused by overcrowding and/or passengers falling overboard. Along with the risk of drowning, there is also a risk that fallen passengers may be injured or killed by the boat’s propeller.
The risks are even greater when there are too many people on board the ship or passengers are drinking heavily.
Hitting Bridges, Boats and Other Objects
Accidents and injuries can also occur when boats collide with other boats, bridges and other objects. These types of accidents may occur when boat operators are:
- Not paying attention or distracted by passengers
- Not trained how to handle a boat properly
- Traveling at excessive speeds
Depending on the nature of the accident and the speed the boat is traveling, this type of accident can cause devastating or fatal injuries.
Jet Ski Accidents
Jet skis can be more dangerous than boats because they can travel at high speeds and don’t offer the driver much protection in the event of an accident.
Although jet skis only make up a small percentage of registered recreational vessels, they account for 20% of all reported accidents each year.
Types of Boating Accident Injuries
Although boating is safer than many other recreational activities, there is still a risk of injury and even death. In fact, boating-related injuries occur at a rate of 100 per 100,000 registered boats. In Texas, that would equate to about 580 injuries per year.
Boat accident injuries can range from mild to severe. The most common types of injuries include:
- Head injuries due to slips and falls on slippery decks and surfaces
- Severe cuts and bruises from propellers
- Broken bones when boats collide with fixed objects, such as docks and bridges
- Dental and eye injuries caused by hard impacts
If you or a loved one has been injured in an Austin boating accident, you may be entitled to compensation for damages and losses.
Call Michael P. Fleming & Associates today at (572)-877-6804 to schedule a free consultation.
Michael P. Fleming is a highly experienced litigator who has argued and won a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a Houston resident who was twice elected to serve as the Harris County Attorney. He is also an avid runner who has completed eight marathons, to date, including two in Ireland. Only a small group of Texas lawyers are Board Certified as specialists in both Personal Injury Trial Law and Real Estate Law. Michael is one of them. He also proudly holds his B.A. degree from the University of Saint Thomas and his J.D. degree from the University of Houston College of Law.