Boating Accidents

Sinking Boat

Many Texas families love to go boating to fish, swim, ski and enjoy the open water.  A serious boating accident; however, can cause permanent injury to your loved one and/or death.  By educating yourself and following common sense safety advice, you can keep your family safe and enjoy water activities.


From 1997 to 2013, Texas had 3,958 reported boating accidents with an average of 232 per year.  Of these boating accidents, 2,610 caused injuries with an average of 153 per year and 753 caused fatalities with an average of 44 per year.  (Source:  Approximately 70 percent of those killed in a boating accident would have survived had they worn a life jacket. 

  1. Completion of a boater education course is mandatory for all persons born on or after September 1, 1993 to operate a Personal Watercraft or boat with a motor greater than 15 hp.
  2. Texas ranks 6th in the nation with approximately 600,000 registered boats.
  3. Texas is the leading state in the nation for the amount of square miles of inland water such as lakes and rivers.
  4. The most common citations issued by game wardens include children not wearing a life jacket while aboard a vessel and boat operators not having enough life jackets aboard their vessel.
  5. With respect to boats less than 26 feet, all children under the age of 13 must wear a US Coast Guard approved life jacket while aboard the vessel.
  6. Game Wardens and Marine Safety Enforcement Officers enforce the Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) law.  An operator of a boat who either appears to be impaired and/or has a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 or higher can be arrested.
  7. The punishment for Boating While Intoxicated may include jail time for up to 180 days, fines as much as $2,000, or both.  Furthermore, the offender's drivers' license may be suspended.
  8. Approximately 50 percent of boating accidents include alcohol as a cause of the accident.
  9. With respect to boating fatalities involving drowning victims, nearly 85 percent of such victims were not wearing a life jacket.


When involved in a boating accident, the operator of the vessel is required by Section 31.104 of the Parks and Wildlife Code to:

  • Render aid to other persons affected by the boating accident, as may be necessary in order to save them from or minimize any danger.
  • Provide your name, address, and identification of your vessel in writing to any person injured and to the owner of any property damaged in the boating accident or collision.

Also, according to Section 31.105 the boating accident must be reported to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department within 30 days after the accident.  The report should include a full description of the boating accident or collision in accordance with rules established by the department.

It is the responsibility of each boat operator who is involved in an accident to contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or your nearest law enforcement agency if the accident:

  • Results in death (within 48 hours); or
  • Results in personal Injury to a person requiring medical treatment beyond first aid; or
  • Causes damage to vessel(s) or property in excess of $2,000.00.


The Texas Boaters Education Program stresses boating safety and responsibility, including:

  • advice on selecting the right boat for your level of experience
  • knowledge of the legal requirements for your vessel
  • rules and aids for safe navigation
  • tips and advice for getting underway, docking, and anchoring
  • safety advice for responding to accidents and emergencies
  • safe ways to navigate and/or to avoid bad weather
  • basic water safety
  • preventing and dealing with fires on your boat
  • safety tips for water activities and sports
  • and more!

Boating safety courses are typically taught by trained instructors, members of the US Coast Guard, as well as teachers and game wardens.  With more and more people enjoying the lakes and rivers in Texas every year, it's important to educate yourself on safe boating skills and seamanship.

Tips for Avoiding a Boating Accident

In order to keep yourself and your family safe on the water, follow these simple safety tips:

  • Enroll in a boater education course
  • Read the Texas Water Safety Act
  • Take the time to learn how to properly operate, equip, and maintain your boat
  • Ensure that you and your children know how to swim
  • Wear a life jacket
  • Children should wear a life jacket at all times while on the water
  • Ensure that your boat is equipped with a US Coast Guard approved life jacket for every person aboard your vessel
  • Closely supervise children at all times
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Have a friend or family member serve as a lookout while you operate the vessel
  • Operate your vessel at a safe speed by using common sense and operating the vessel at a speed that is reasonable prudent under the circumstances

For more information, I strongly urge you to download and read the Texas Water Safety Act before your next boating trip to ensure the safety of you and your family.  

I hope everyone has fun on the water, but if a boating accident should occur, call Corpus Christi Tx boating accident lawyer Sheadyn R Rogers of Rogers Law Firm at (361) 356-6057 or fill out the law firm's online consultation form for a free consultation concerning your case.



Rogers Law Firm serves the following areas: Aransas County, Bee County, Brooks County, Duval County, Jim Wells County, Kenedy County, Kleberg County, Live Oak County, Nueces County, Refugio County, San Patricio County & the Corpus Christi TX Metroplex.

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