What the Law Requires When You’ve Been Involved in Any Type of Watercraft Accident
It’s summertime and for many of us, it’s time to enjoy the waterways across Texas. Particularly on those really hot days, there’s no place we’d rather be. But we’re not alone. Texas ranks 7th nationally for the number of registered boats, with nearly 600,000 watercraft licensed for the state’s waterways. There’s a downside, though…Texas ranks third in the nation for the number of boating accidents, behind only Florida and California. So it may not come as a surprise if you’re involved in some type of mishap on your boat. When that happens, what do you need to do? What does the law require?
Your First Priority—Determine the Well-Being of All Your Passengers
After any type of accident, the most important concern is the health of everyone involved in the incident. Do a quick assessment of yourself and all your passengers. If there’s anyone who cannot move under their own power, or who has suffered an injury to their head, neck or spine, you need to get them medical attention as soon as possible. Don’t try to move them. Instead, stabilize them as much as possible. If you are close to the shore and can all for emergency assistance, stay where you are and do that, so that you don’t risk further injury in potentially turbulent waters. If the injuries appear serious, call for emergency assistance, but also make your way back to the dock. Emergency responders can meet you as you come in to port.
The Legal Requirement to Stop and Render Aid
Under the Texas boating laws, any person operating any type of watercraft who is involved in an accident must stop after the accident and provide whatever assistance others require, unless doing do would imperil the operator, his vessel, his crew or his passengers. The aid provided must be reasonable under the circumstances, but the operator must engage in all necessary acts to minimize the danger to others. When stopping, the operator must also provide owners of any other watercraft involved in the accident with contact information, including name, address and vehicle identification number (in writing). Failure to stop and render aid after an accident that involves a fatality or serious bodily injury can be charged as a felony. For lesser injuries, it may be a misdemeanor.
The Duty to Report the Accident
Any watercraft operator involved in an accident on the water must report the accident to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department within 30 days, provided that the mishap caused:
- A fatality or missing person
- Injury to any person that necessitated treatment other than first aid
- Property damage in excess of $2,000
If a fatality occurs, the accident must be reported within 48 hours.
Learn How the Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen Can Help You after a Boating Accident
At the law offices of Bailey & Galyen, we have more than 40 years of experience successfully representing victims of personal injury in Texas. We know how to fully protect your rights when you’ve been hurt in any type of boating or watercraft accident. We are seasoned trial lawyers who can anticipate the tactics of defense counsel and take preemptive measures to help you pursue full and fair compensation for all your losses. Contact us by e-mail or 844-402-2992 call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.