In Harlingen, boating comes naturally. You easily access coastal waters, beautiful lakes, and a network of inland waterways. Whether you rent, lease, or own your own boat, waterborne recreation provides hours of excitement and fun. As you enjoy your leisure time on the water, you must also take steps to remain safe.
As with bad drivers on the highway, negligent boaters sometimes operate in the waters around you. When you least expect it, they speed, drink alcohol, and navigate recklessly. They damage your boat and cause injuries that change your life.
Unfortunately, you can’t always avoid negligent boaters and the complications they cause. When an accident occurs, state and admiralty laws, insurers, and attorneys often determine how your injury case plays out. When you sustain injuries in a boat accident, consulting with a boating accident attorney becomes an essential step.
Representing Injured People and Their Families
At Kenny Perez Law, our bilingual law firm has worked with many local clients and their families. We have seen how injuries traumatized them and changed everything in their lives. When someone else harms our clients, we work hard to recover damages for their physical, emotional, and financial losses.
Our attorneys have given every injury claim the immediate attention it required. We learn critical details from our clients then proceed with comprehensive investigations. We clarify any legal issues and identify all responsible people and entities. We place them on notice of our clients’ injuries and legal rights. Before we take legal action, we encourage cooperation.
As we’ve handled our clients’ cases, we have focused on their difficult recoveries. Our dedication to our injured clients kept us motivated to do the best job possible on their behalf.
Our Law Firm’s Results
At Kenny Perez Law, we have resolved cases through settlement processes that worked best for our clients. When negligent parties and their insurers cooperated, we avoided complicated legal battles. We negotiated cases when possible. We also concluded cases through mediation and other Alternative Dispute Resolution procedures.
Until we settled an injury claim, we knew that litigation remained a possibility. With that in mind, we prepared our cases early. Whenever we reached a negotiation stalemate, we remained ready for resolution before a judge and jury.
As cases include too many variables, we can’t predict an outcome.
While these are only past results and no guarantee of outcome in every case, our attorneys have established a proven track record that shows how hard we work for our injured clients:
- Commercial Vehicle Accident, $350,000 Settlement: A commercial driver injured our client when he T-boned her car.
- 18-Wheeler Accident, $1 Million: Our client sustained serious injuries when a tractor-trailer rear-ended his vehicle.
- Commercial Vehicle Accident, $160,000 Settlement: A commercial driver injured our client in a rear-end accident.
- Premises Liability Accident, $75,000 Settlement: Our client sustained injuries when she fell in a national chain store.
Boating Accidents in Texas
Texas is home to 577,144 registered boats and more inland bodies of water than any other state. It also consistently ranks as one of the top three states for boating accident fatalities. Lack of required training often plays a role in this result.
Boat operators must comply with Parks and Wildlife Water Safety Code, §31.001, also known as the Water Safety Act. Certain boats must meet registration and numbering guidelines, but the state doesn’t require boat operator licensing. All operators must carry a photo ID and, in some cases, proof of boater training or a Coast Guard-issued vessel operator’s license.
Those who operate on public waters must pass a Boater Education Course or an equivalency test under certain circumstances.
- Born September 13, 1993, or later
- Operates certain vessels in public waters: a windblown vessel over 14 feet high, a boat with a 15 horsepower engine or greater
- To obtain a waiver for a boating offense fine
Boating Accident Statistics
The Coast Guard and Homeland Security maintain jurisdiction over private and public waterways in Texas and across the country. Their annual Recreational Boating Statistics Report documents water-related accidents and casualty data.
Here are some of the most recent statistics.
- (Reportable) Boating accidents nationwide: 5265
- Boating injuries nationwide: 3191
- Fatal boating accidents nationwide: 692
- Boating fatalities nationwide: 767
Texas Boating Accidents
- (Reportable) Boating accidents in Texas: 281
- Non-fatal Boating Injuries in Texas: 114
- Fatal boating accidents in Texas: 55
- Boating Fatalities in Texas: 59
How Boating Accidents Occur
Regardless of the state or body of water, most boating accidents occur due to similar circumstances.
- Top five accident types: collision, flooding/swamping, colliding with a fixed object, grounding, falls overboard
- Top five accident causes: inattention, inexperience, improper lookout, speeding, machinery failure
- Most common vessels involved: open motorboats, personal watercraft, cabin motorboats
- Fatal accident contributing factors: Alcohol, 18 percent; no operator safety training, 77 percent
The causes listed in the RBSR as “other” occur less frequently. These incidents include struck-by-propeller (propeller accidents caused 39 fatalities), skier mishaps, fires, explosions, ejected, departed, and a variety of other circumstances.
What Kinds of Injuries Occur?
When boating accidents occur, injured victims sustain a variety of injuries. Of the 3191 injuries recently reported nationwide, 762 people sustained lacerations, 610 sustained fractures, and 394 walked away with scrapes and bruises. Others dealt with more complex injuries.
- Head trauma
- Dislocation injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
The Recreational Boating Statistics report lists these as the top five fatal injuries.
- Cardiac arrest
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
Who is Responsible for Boat Accident Injuries?
A negligent operator, the boat’s owner, and sometimes an employer share responsibility when a boat accident occurs. Boat operators have duties similar to vehicle operators.
Texas water safety statute §31.093 incorporates U.S. Coast Guard “Rules of the Road,” which ban “willfully or wantonly reckless or negligent” behaviors, such as:
- Excessive speed
- Reckless operation
- Creating a hazardous wake
- Operating recklessly in a scuba diving area
These strong indicators of negligence don’t automatically prove liability. As with auto claims, insurance companies and courts weigh liability based on an operator breaching a duty and injuring someone.
The recent RBS report documented 456 mechanical failure-related accidents nationwide. These accidents caused 22 fatalities and 173 injuries.
They involved these and other equipment failures.
- Electrical system
- Exhaust system
- Auxiliary equipment
When a mechanical defect causes or contributes to an accident, the boat manufacturer is often responsible. Boat leasing and rental companies, and maintenance/repair mechanics also share liability for mechanical failure accidents.
What Damages Can an Injured Person Recover?
Our law firm has always taken settlements seriously. We push to recover all of our clients’ Economic, Non-Economic, and Exemplary Damages.
Economic damages reimburse injured people for medical bills and other costs incurred. Damages often include:
- Wage and income losses
- Medical treatment
- Mobility devices
- Physical and psychological therapy
- Plastic surgery
- Household assistance
- Medical transportation
- Funeral and burial costs
Non-economic damages reflect the injured person’s emotional and psychological issues.
These damages often include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional pain
- Mental anguish
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical Impairment
A Texas court has the option of awarding exemplary damages as punishment for a defendant’s fraud, malice, or gross negligence. A plaintiff must produce clear and convincing evidence that proves this element of the case. If Admiralty Law applies, federal courts award punitive or exemplary damages based on proven reckless conduct or conduct in disregard of others’ rights.
How Do Negligent Parties Defend Themselves?
Negligent people, businesses, or other entities rely on similar strategies to defend themselves.
- Reporting: Based on Texas Statutes §31.105, boaters must file state or federal accident reports for reportable accidents. The Coast Guard uses the data but considers the reports “confidential and inadmissible in court.” Unless a local authority investigates an incident, boaters have leeway in reporting accidents to their insurers as no liability incidents.
- Negotiation: Insurers often use low-dollar settlement offers as part of a negotiation strategy. It forces injured victims to file suit or accept an inadequate settlement.
- Affirmative Defenses: Regardless of the accident circumstances, defense attorneys usually plead affirmative defenses. Based on these defenses, juries sometimes consider defense verdicts or reduced damage awards.
- Damage Defense: Defendants and their insurers sometimes downplay or question an injured victim’s injuries, hoping to reduce claim payouts.
At Kenny Perez Law, our attorneys have begun planning our defense strategies during the initial stages of our investigations. We prepare our cases to produce the best results during negotiation, mediation, or trial.
Harlingen Boat Accident Attorney
Boat accidents often involve serious injuries, complex legal issues, and Admiralty laws. You need a boat accident attorney working on your behalf. At Kenny Perez Law, our bilingual attorneys have protected our clients’ rights by dealing with negligent parties, insurers, self-insured entities, and defense attorneys. We resolve complicated issues while our clients concentrate on recovering.
To schedule your complimentary consultation, call us at (956) 544-9292, or leave a message on our contact page. Let us determine if our firm can help you.
Kenny Perez Law
513 E Jackson Ave # 304,
Harlingen, TX 78550
“Definitely a law firm that you can trust! Professional, reasonable, and knowledgeable. The legal team has great customer service skills. They were able to help and guide us every step of the way after our accident.” – Cynthia Barrera
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