According to the United States Coast Guard, boating accidents in 2020 accounted for 3,195 injuries, 787 deaths, and over 62.5 million dollars in property damage. With the summer boating season around the corner, more people plan to hit the waterways in Austin, Texas. Considering the large size of a lake, riverway, or harbor, people feel safer on a boat compared to driving a car. Unfortunately, a few recreational boaters are not familiar with boating rules or do not have experience operating the vessel. Everything from impaired operation to unpredictable weather causes accidents on the water. When a boating accident injury happens in Austin, Texas, many people are unprepared to act. If you want to understand your legal options and rights following a boating accident in Texas, consider contacting the experienced personal injury attorneys at Jason English Law at (512) 454-7548 to schedule a free consultation.
First Steps After a Boating Accident
After an accident, the very first step is to make sure that everyone is okay. If the vessel is still afloat, take the time to see if anyone is missing or injured. Tend to any minor injuries if possible. Watch out for other vessels and signal them for help. If the boat is destroyed or sinking, find a piece of debris to use as a flotation device. Once you are secure, help other victims and signal for help. All crew members and passengers need to stay out of danger from other boats or vessels. Make sure to call for medical assistance if necessary.
File an Accident Report
When on dry land or in a safe spot, report the details of the accident to the local authorities. Before making a report, gather the boating accident details, including:
- Contact information of all boat operators, passengers, and eyewitnesses
- License or I.D. numbers of all involved vessels
- Insurance details for boat operators and involved parties
- Pictures of the damaged vessels and injuries to crew members and passengers
- Accident scene photos
You must report all boating accidents to the Coast Guard and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. During a legal investigation, this report becomes a valuable piece of evidence. In certain circumstances, federal law requires the filing of an accident report after:
- An individual died.
- An individual has injuries that cannot be treated with simple first aid.
- A person disappeared under circumstances that indicate death or injury.
- Damage to vessels and other property totaling $2,000.
- The boat is destroyed.
With cases that have suspicious circumstances, a report may need to be filed with the Department of Natural Resources or a local law enforcement agency. All reports have strict timelines. According to the United States Coast Guard, all statements must be made within 48 hours unless someone has died, was injured, or became disabled.
When making a report, make sure to tell the truth. Never speculate or offer an opinion regarding the cause of the boating accident. Recount the factual details of the accident and allow the investigator or law enforcement officer to draw their own conclusions.
Visit a Medical Professional
If the authorities do not treat the victims of the boating accident immediately at the scene of the accident, it is essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Some injuries, such as internal organ damage or brain injuries, do not manifest until hours or even days after a boating accident. Therefore, it is critical to seek a full medical evaluation as soon as possible to prevent further injury or even death. Documenting all medical records and related bills may help you receive compensation in your personal injury claim. Learn more about these possible compensation claims by speaking with an experienced boating accident attorney at Jason English Law today.
Common Boating Accident Injuries
Injuries from boating accidents do not always appear immediately after an accident. Always maintain a vigilant watch for any symptoms of a medical problem following your accident. A boating accident injury may not develop for several days. The most common boating accident injuries include:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
According to a 2011 report released by the United States Coast Guard, brain injuries are the second leading cause of death resulting from a boating accident. When the vessel collides against a wall or another boat, the impact can cause traumatic brain injuries.
Spinal Cord Injuries
When boats collide or waves hit the vessel, the impact causes spinal compression, resulting in spinal cord injuries.
Explosions, electrical faults, and fires can occur in the engine room, causing burn injuries for crew members and passengers.
Lacerations and Amputations
Most boats use propellers to move on the water. The sharp blades of the propellers operate at a high rate of speed, making them a dangerous component of the boat. Anyone encountering a propeller can suffer deep lacerations or limb amputations.
When the body and head move suddenly, the motion strains the neck, causing whiplash. Passengers might suffer from whiplash if the boat makes a sharp turn or abrupt stop. While typically only a mild muscle strain, serious injuries do result from this quick motion.
After a boat collision, the vessel may capsize or take on water. Often, the force of the boating accident launches passengers into the water. At this stage, the accident victims must try to stay afloat or swim. Many victims suffer from disorientation after the accident, causing them to drown.
Bone and Ligament Injuries
By hitting a wall or falling from the boat, crew members and passengers may experience broken bones or ligature injuries.
Safety is a priority in any boating accident. Always check on the passengers and crew. After that, treat any minor injuries or seek medical help. Injuries from a boating accident are often severe, requiring assistance from trained medical professionals.
Any of these injuries will require costly medical treatment. In the case of negligence, the accident victim might be able to seek compensation for these costs.
Contact an Experienced Austin, Texas Boating Accident Injury Attorney Today
If you suffered a boating accident injury in Texas, you might have the right to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. Learn about your legal rights and options by speaking with a boating accident attorney at Jason English Law. Call (512) 454-7548 to schedule a consultation today.