Texas Recreational Boating Accident Lawyer
Recreational boating accidents are common. A relaxing and fun day on the lake, river or ocean, can quickly turn into a nightmare when a boat or personal watercraft, such as a jet ski overturns, collides with another watercraft, or is involved in some other type of accident. Innocent third parties who are not even on the watercraft can be struck or run over. The injuries in these types of accidents can be severe, including bone fractures, spinal cord injuries, lacerations, burns, head trauma and death.
The Willis Law Firm has decades of experience helping injury victims and their families recover the full financial compensation they are legally entitled to receive. Our firm represents clients nationwide who have been injured in a broad range of recreational, fishing and pleasure boating accidents, including accidents involving:
- Untrained/inexperienced boaters
- Drivers operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Speeding and other reckless behaviors
- Defective designs and components
- Operating during dangerous weather
- Operating in uncharted areas with underwater hazards
- Improperly maintained or unsafe watercrafts
- Lack of sufficient safety or lifesaving equipment on board
- Underage Boat Operators
- Lack of the Use of a Spotter
If you have been harmed in a recreational boating accident, you may be able to pursue legal action against multiple parties legally responsible for your injuries. For instance, you may be able to file a negligence lawsuit against the driver of the watercraft. Depending upon the facts of your case, you may also be able to sue the rental company or owner of the boat. If you were injured while water skiing or being towed on a tube, you may have the right to bring a legal action against your spotter, boat owner and any other negligent boat operator involved in the accident. Additionally, if your accident was caused by a defective boat or improperly designed equipment, you may have a legal claim against the company that manufactured the boat or the equipment.
The legal claims arising from recreational boating incidents tend to encompass complex laws and legal theories. If you were involved in a boating accident, you should consult with an experienced Texas injury lawyer who can conduct a thorough investigation and evaluation of your case. Your attorney will determine the best way to proceed with your legal claims so that you can collect the financial compensation you need to recover from your injuries.
We Handle Cases Involving All Types of Recreational Boating Accidents
These (and other) issues can lead to accidents involving all types of vessels. Our firm represents individuals and families in cases involving accidents including:
Cabin Boat Accidents
Cabin boats require careful navigation and near-constant maintenance to operate safely on the water. While inexperienced, distracted and impaired captains are often to blame for accidents involving cabin boats, many other issues can also be to blame. Inadequate maintenance and inadequate safety equipment are also common factors, and passenger negligence, crewmember negligence, boat defects, and other dangerous boaters are common factors as well.
Open Motorboat Accidents
Many recreational boating accidents involve open motorboats. This includes bowriders, deck boats, pontoon boats, rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and center consoles. Once again, numerous factors can potentially be to blame, and filing a claim for an open motorboat accident requires a prompt and thorough investigation of the circumstances involved.
Many open motorboats are operated as rentals or owned by boat clubs. As discussed in greater detail below, when one of these boats is involved in an accident, the rental company or boat club will often be legally responsible.
Personal Watercraft (PWC) Accidents
Recreational accidents involving personal watercraft (PWC) are also extremely common—especially in bays, rivers, lakes and coastal waters. Jet skis are not easy to operate safely, but this, unfortunately, does not stop many renters and other novices from getting behind the controls. Many jet ski rental companies also fail to perform adequate maintenance on their rental fleets, and they send riders out on dangerous and ill-equipped PWCs as a result.
Lack of visibility is a common factor in PWC accidents as well. If you were hit by a larger vessel while operating a PWC, it is entirely possible that the captain never saw you. But, this is not an excuse, and you can – and should – hire a Texas boating and accident lawyer to help you file a claim for just compensation.
Waterskiing, Wakeboarding and Tubing Accidents
Waterskiing, wakeboarding and tubing accidents can result from various causes, and they can often be extremely dangerous. Approaching vessels, moving propellers and underwater hazards can all present risks for serious or fatal injuries. When these accidents happen, determining who (or what company) is liable requires a detailed investigation and a clear understanding of the maritime laws that apply.
Collisions between vessels, collisions with docks and other fixed objects, groundings, and accidents caused by high seas are all very real risks for yacht passengers. Drunk passengers, inadequate safety equipment, negligent yacht maintenance, and physical and sexual assaults are all very real risks as well. If you were injured or assaulted onboard a yacht—or in any other type of yacht-related accident—you should speak with a Houston boating accident attorney about your legal rights promptly.
Negligence Per Se
In many cases, recreational boating accident victims will be able to file claims based on the law of negligence per se. This law states that if a person (or company) violates the law and an accident results, then that person’s (or company’s) violation is presumed to be the cause of the accident.
One of the most common forms of negligence per se in recreational boating accident cases is boating under the influence (BUI). Just like driving under the influence, BUI is illegal for obvious reasons. If you were involved in a collision with a drunk boater, or if you were riding with a captain who got drunk before causing an accident, an experienced Houston boating and accident lawyer will be able to use the law of negligence per se to pursue a claim for just compensation on your behalf.
There are many other forms of negligence per se as well. Maritime laws establish stringent requirements for recreational boaters, but many boaters don’t know – and don’t follow – the law. When you choose our firm to handle your recreational boating accident case, we will examine all potential grounds for using the law to your advantage.
When companies and individuals loan their boats and PWCs to others, they must take reasonable steps to ensure that these operators are capable of staying safe on the water. If a rental company, boat club or other vessel owner fails to take these steps, it can potentially be held liable for negligent entrustment in the event of an accident.
Vicarious liability affords another means for recreational boating accident victims to hold boat owners legally accountable. Under the law of vicarious liability, employers are responsible for their employees’ conduct within the scope of their employment. If you were injured on a charter vessel, if you were injured or assaulted by a crewmember, or if you were injured in a collision or other accident involving a commercial ship, then you may have a claim based on the law of vicarious liability.
FAQs: Recovering Your Losses After a Recreational Boating Accident
Are Recreational Boaters Required to Carry Liability Insurance?
Most states do not require boaters to carry liability insurance. However, many boaters still opt to purchase coverage in order to protect themselves in the event of an accident. If you were injured in a recreational boating accident, our lawyers can determine if the at-fault boater is covered; and, if not, we can determine what other options you have available.
Can You File a Recreational Boating Accident Claim for a Dangerous Wake?
Potentially, yes. Large wakes can be dangerous for other boats, PWCs, skiers and wakeboarders. If a commercial or recreational boat captain caused a dangerous wake that led to your injuries, the captain, the captain’s employer or the owner of the captain’s vessel may be liable for your losses.
How Do You File a Claim for a Recreational Boating Accident?
What you need to do in order to file a claim for a recreational boating accident depends on the circumstances involved. This includes who (or what company) is responsible for the accident and whether insurance coverage is available. When you engage our firm to represent you, we will work quickly to determine what claim (or claims) you can file, and we will take all necessary legal action on your behalf.
Contact an Experienced Texas Boating Accident Law Firm Today
If you have been injured in an accident involving a recreational boat or personal watercraft, the Willis Law Firm can assist. Our seasoned legal professionals will advocate for your rights at every stage of the process. You can take comfort in knowing that an experienced attorney will always answer your questions and we will be available when you need us the most 24/7. Contact us today to schedule your free, initial consultation by calling 1-800-468-4878 or by submitting our online contact form. We are committed to helping you obtain a fair and just recovery in your case.