Boating Accidents & Personal Injury

Summer is upon us, and many Texans across the state are heading out to area lakes to beat the heat on their boats and watercraft. While boats and other aquatic vehicles are subject to laws akin to motor vehicles, unfortunately, many watercraft operators do not take water safety as seriously as they should. This lack of safety leads to accidents on the water.

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) reported that in 2017, there were 4,291 accidents reported that involved 658 deaths and 2,629 injuries. In Texas alone, there were 170 reported accidents with 51 resulting in deaths and 53 resulting in non-fatal injuries.

In order to recover damages for injuries sustained on a motorboat or any other form of watercraft, you must prove that your injury resulted from another person’s negligence (failure to act with reasonable care).  Your lawyer must be able to demonstrate that someone else failed to act with reasonable care and that you were injured as a result of this negligence.

Top 5 Primary Accident Types

Accident Rank Accident Type Number of Accidents Number of Deaths Number of Injuries
1 Collision with recreational vessel 1145 49 721
2 Collision with fixed object 470 63 327
3 Flooding/swamping 435 76 132
4 Grounding 368 17 224
5 Falls overboard 306 179 126


Some examples of Boating Accident Negligence include:

  • Speeding/Reckless Driving
  • BUI (boating while intoxicated)
  • Defective manufacturing
  • Inexperienced/Unlicensed/Uninsured operators
  • Distracted Driving
  • Failing to have proper safety equipment onboard (e.g. flare guns, fire extinguishers, life jackets)

In order to understand how a negligence claim works, we have identified the most common types of boating accidents.

The majority of boating accidents involve:

  • Boat collision
  • Boat hits another boat’s wake
  • Boat hits a wave
  • Boat hits a submerged object, rock, land

Unlike auto accidents, if you are involved in a collision between two motorboats, both boat operators will usually be at least partly at fault for the accident. Thus, passengers that were injured on either boat could have a legal case against the operators of both boats. Similar to car accident cases, if one of the boat operators is injured, he or she would only have a claim against the operator.

The type of boat also plays an important role in the case. For example, sailboats have less control than a motorboat. If the two boats were to collide, the operator of the motorboat would be considered at fault.

Vessel Type with Top Casualty Numbers

Casualty Rank Type of Boat Drownings Other Deaths Total Deaths Total Injuries Total Casualties
1 Open motorboat 198 107 308 1367 1672
2 Personal watercraft 17 29 46 624 670
3 Cabin motorboat 15 21 36 220 256
4 Canoe/Kayak 122 16 138 107 245
5 Pontoon 28 5 33 133 166

As with car accident victims, boating accident victims can benefit greatly for hiring an attorney. Careless boat operators can and should be held responsible for their negligence under the law. If you have been involved in an accident, it is crucial that you file an accident report with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or the police in the following instances:
Many people tend to underestimate the risk of operating a boat, believing that they are at lower risk on the water than on a roadway. Drinking and driving a boat is no less dangerous than driving a drinking and driving a car; both are illegal and extremely dangerous. The USCG reported that alcohol was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, accounting for 19% of all deaths arising from boating accidents. Texas law states that if a boat operator is found to be under the influence of alcohol, he or she can be arrested and charged with a “BUI” (boating under the influence). If a drunk boat operator was the cause of your accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injury or property damage.

  • The accident caused more than $2,000 worth of property damage
  • The accident injures a person to the extent of needing medical treatment beyond first aid
  • The accident results in a fatality

Common Boat Injuries Include:

  • Neck and spine injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (which could be the result of closed or open head injuries or injuries sustained due to ingested water)
  • Burns
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Broken bones



The attorneys at Thompson Law have handled numerous cases involving boat accidents and have the expertise to represent you. We handle all types of watercraft injury claims.  If you or a loved one has been injured at any recreational lake such as Lake Texoma, Lake Lewisville or White Rock Lake, we are here for you!



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State law limits the time you have to file a claim after an auto accident. If you have been injured in an accident, call now to get the help you need.