Boat Injury Lawyers in El Paso

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The state of Texas ranks sixth among all other states regarding the number of registered watercraft, and first regarding the number of inland waterways. In 2010, there were 152 accidents on Texas waters, and 27 of those resulted in fatalities. Many of these accidents could have been prevented if those in the boat had simply followed a few safety guidelines.

Boating Safety Education Requirement

In Texas, anyone born on or after September 1, 1993 must participate in mandatory boater education if they plan to operate a private water craft (PWC) or motorboat that has a boater with more than 15 hp. The boating safety course is also required for sailing vessels over 14 feet in length. The certificate and a photo identification card, such as a driver’s license, must be in the boater’s possession. For those who are not residents of Texas, they may provide documentation of a boater safety course from another state.

Boating Under the Influence

Another common problem on Texas waterways is drinking and boating, and in Texas, the laws are strict when it comes to Boating While Intoxicated (BWI). According to Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD), alcohol plays a part in more than 50 percent of all boating accidents. A blood alcohol limit of 0.08 or higher will result in a BWI charge. In addition, a person determined to be intoxicated who injures a passenger can be charged with intoxication assault, or intoxication manslaughter if a passenger on the boat dies because they were boating and drinking.  Persons arrested for BWI could face fines up to $2,000, 180 days in jail, or both. Texas also connects a boater’s driver’s license with a BWI, so the convicted party’s driver’s license could be automatically suspended. (http://www.tpwd.state/tx/us/learning/boater_education/boating_facts/)

Reckless or Negligent Boating

Texas law prohibits operating a vessel with wanton recklessness or disregard for the safety of others. Reckless or negligent boating actions include:

  • Excessive speed;
  • Hazardous wake or wash;
  • Circular course around individuals engage in water activity;
  • Obstructing passage;
  • Operating in restricted areas

Life Jackets

One of the most common citations issued by Texas game wardens is not having enough life jackets on board, or children under the age of 13 not wearing a life jacket. Texas law requires that any child under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket in boats less than 26 feet in length that is moving. A life ring or buoy does not meet this requirement. However, any vessel that is 16 feet or more in length must have at least one throwable flotation device as approved by the US Coast Guard.

Texas visitors and residents enjoy spending time on the many waterways available throughout the date, but failing to adhere to or know the laws designed to protect themselves or others create dangerous situations,. If you or a loved one have been injured, or if someone you love died due to the carelessness of a boater contact a maritime personal injury attorney to learn what rights you have. Contact us online or by phone today.