If you have been injured on a boat or on a watercraft, the Texas Boat Accident Guide was created by Austin injury lawyer Daniel R. Smith to help residents earn full compensation.
Getting injured can be very frustrating, especially if it’s not your fault. If you are hurt due to someone else’s carelessness or negligence, you may be eligible to bring a boating accident claim. Our Texas boating accident attorney handles these cases with expertise and experience. Call our office today to set up a free consultation.
How to Ensure a Successful Claim
The very first move that you need to make after you get hurt is to get to a medical care professional and receive a thorough medical exam. You need to tell them about every bump and bruise. Do not keep anything to yourself or else you could be paying for that dearly in the future. For example, if your neck only hurts a little, you still need to say something. It could only feel like whiplash right now, but later on you might find that it starts hurting more and more and it ends up being a slipped disc. This can happen with any injury, in theory. If you ignore it, it could get worse. Also, it is paramount to see a doctor so that we know what your injuries are and what your expected treatment and recovery plan so that we can show the insurance company that they owe you compensation for all of it.
The next most important step after you get hurt is to make sure you are doing your due diligence to collect evidence. This might be impossible if you are plucked out of the water and swept away in the back on an ambulance, and in those cases, you can ask the police or call an attorney or friend to go to the scene of the accident and do the collection for you. If you are able to stay there and delay medical treatment because your injuries are not life-threatening, you need to make sure you do a good job collecting evidence. You can take as many pictures and videos as your phone can hold. You might want to get photos from all angles and take photos of your injuries that are visible as well. If you see the cause of your injury plain and clear, make sure you document that as well. You will also want to talk to as many eyewitnesses as possible and gather their information. If you know who caused your accident, such as the driver who slammed into your boat, make sure you get their contact and insurance information as well.
Lastly, in order to use all of this information the right way, you need to find an attorney who knows what they’re doing. What you need to do is research all your options. Find a few attorneys to call, maybe have a free consultation with if they offer one, and evaluate if they are right for your case. You should interview them. Ask them if they have ever handled a boating case like yours before, and if they have, ask about the outcome. You should also take note about how quickly they get back to you, how often you get to actually speak to them and not an intake specialist, and if they seem to make your case a priority.
Rules and Statutes
There are two things that can totally bar you from getting compensation if you haven’t educated yourself. The first is if you run out of time. In Texas, you have a statute of limitations of two years from the date of your accident. This is quicker than some states and it means you need to act quickly. Even if you’ve collected evidence at the scene, your witnesses might lose memory of what happened after a few months. You do not want to delay. You need to call an attorney right away so that they have ample time to get the ball rolling on making a success claim for you. If you come to an attorney on the day before your limitations runs out, they won’t be able to help you. You need to give your attorney time to do their job. Act fast on your case.
The second thing that could keep you from getting compensation is being found at fault for the accident. A good attorney can protect you from this in the right conditions, but if you decide to represent yourself, deal with the insurance company without an attorney, or obtain the representation of an attorney with no experience, you could be kissing your compensation goodbye. Texas laws state that you will not be able to collect a reward if you are found to be 50% or more at fault for your accident. If you are less than that, your award will be reduced. For example, if you are found to be 10% at fault for your injury, and you have been awarded $10,000, you will only be able to collect $9,000 of that award. For this reason, it is important to find an attorney who will keep you protected from the insurance company when they try to make you take the blame. You must remember that you should never give the insurance company a statement, even if they say it will help you. Odds are they’re only looking out for themselves and they are trying to pin this one on you.
Frequently Questions | Texas Boat Accident Guide
What Do I Do After My Boating Accident?
Recently I was contacted by someone who had been in a boating accident, and they asked me what they should do. The first thing I told them they need to do is seek medical treatment immediately and follow the doctor’s orders. This is to give them the best chance at recovery.
The next thing they need to do is hire an attorney as soon as possible. Part of an attorney’s role is to investigate and act as a detective on what happened. It’s also to gather all the evidence and get it on the record. Evidence disappears, stories change, and an attorney will help make sure that doesn’t happen.
The next thing is that person needs to hire the right attorney. The right attorney is someone who focuses a large amount of their practice on personal injury claims. Personal injury claims and boating claims are very different than other types of claims. Also, that attorney should be a trial lawyer. A trial lawyer is an attorney that prepares every case as if it’s going to trial.
If you’ve been injured in a boating accident in Texas, please don’t hesitate to contact our office and we’ll be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
How Much is My Case Worth?
We were recently contacted by someone who was injured when they were out fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, off Texas, and one of the questions they had is, “How do you determine the value of my claim?” Unfortunately, early on, it’s very difficult to determine the value of a boating accident claim. We don’t know the value until we know the extent of your injuries, at the very least, and we won’t know the extent of your injuries until you’ve completed medical treatment.
There are a few different types of compensation that you’re entitled to if you’ve been injured in a boating accident. That includes past and future lost wages, past and future medical bills, and past and future pain and suffering. There are some other damages as well, for example, if you’ve been permanently disfigured.
How Long Will My Case Take?
Recently I was contacted by someone who was injured on a boat on Lake Austin, and they asked me how long it would take for their case to be resolved. Unfortunately, early on, there isn’t a clear answer. The first thing that has to happen is we have to know the extent of your injuries, and we won’t know that until you are done with medical treatment or you’ve gone through enough medical treatment where it is clear what the extent of your injuries are.
After we know the extent of your injuries, we’ll submit a demand to the insurance company on the other side outlining your injuries and asking for fair and just compensation. The insurance company will have a few weeks to respond to this. If they respond with a number and it’s something we can work with, we’ll negotiate. Unfortunately, most of the time it’s not and, if it isn’t, we have to file a lawsuit.
After we file a lawsuit, the defendant has 30 days to respond once they have been served. Normally, there are no problems serving the defendant. However, occasionally, people try to avoid service. Once there’s a response on file, we immediately contact the attorney on their side to get a trial date, and then there’s an end in sight.
How Do I Pick the Right Attorney?
The other day I got a call; someone was on Lake Travis and, unfortunately, they were hit by another boat and seriously injured. They asked, “How do I go about choosing the right boating accident attorney?” The first thing is you have to be able to establish a level of comfort and trust with that attorney in the first meeting, whether it be over the phone or in-person.
The next thing is you need someone who has experience in boating accidents. Boating accidents are very unique. They’re different than car wrecks. Also, different law may apply, depending on where the boating accident occurred. You need an attorney that’s familiar with that.
Third, you need to hire a trial attorney. Insurance companies on the other side know who the trial attorneys are, and they treat the trial attorneys – which means they will treat you – differently. That gives you a better chance for a more fair settlement offer during litigation. If, for whatever reason, you’re unable to resolve your case during litigation and you have to go to trial, you have an attorney that’s ready to go to trial and get you the best result possible.
Should I Talk to the Insurance Company?
Recently I was contacted by someone who was a victim in a boating accident and he asked me, “What are the two most common mistakes that people make when interacting with the insurance companies on the other side?” The first most common mistake, and it happens time and time again, is people give a recorded statement. They think by cooperating with the insurance company, the insurance company will in turn act in good faith. An insurance company won’t act in good faith. What they’re doing is they’re trying to find a way to limit their exposure and find a way to trick you into giving an answer that will hurt you in the future.
The next mistake that people make is they take the first offer. The first offer is almost always a lowball offer. It’s an effort by the adjuster to see if he or she can get the case done quickly and cheaply. If you’ve been a victim in a boating accident in Texas and have any questions about your case, I’d be happy to discuss it with you.
What Mistakes Should I Avoid Making?
Recently I was contacted by someone who had been injured in a boating accident off Lake Travis, and they asked me, “What are some of the common mistakes that people make?” The first mistake that people make is they don’t seek medical treatment right away. Related to that mistake is they don’t follow the doctor’s orders. That’s critical to ensure that you have the best chance of fully recovering from your injuries, and if you can’t fully recover, at the very least recover to the maximum of your ability.
The next mistake that people make is they give a recorded statement to the insurance company. The insurance adjuster is not there to fairly compensate you for your claim but to limit the exposure of the insurance company. They’re trained to try and trick you into giving answers to questions that are misleading and compensate you less for your claim.
Third, people delay in hiring an attorney to represent them. Don’t do that. An attorney is needed to fully investigate a claim, as soon as possible, to the accident. Also, that attorney can help prepare you in giving a statement to the insurance company, if they believe that’s the right move to make.
Lastly, you need to hire the right attorney. People make the mistake of hiring the wrong attorney. The wrong attorney is someone who doesn’t have a large part of their practice devoted to personal injury law. Personal injury law is very different than other law. Beyond that, boating accident law is very different from other personal injury law, so you need to hire someone who has that experience.
If you’ve been injured in a boating accident in Texas, please don’t hesitate to contact our office and we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.
What If I Had Preexisting Conditions?
Recently I was contacted by someone who was in a boating accident and wanted to know how his preexisting condition would affect his case. The answer is complicated but can be boiled down to this – the third-party is responsible for any changes in your condition. For example, if your pain was a two, on a scale of one to ten, before the boating accident but after the boating accident your pain was a six, on a scale of one to ten, the third-party would be responsible for that change.
However, preexisting conditions are very complicated and should be looked at on a case by cases basis. If you have any questions about how your preexisting condition may affect your case, please don’t hesitate to contact our office and we’ll do our best to answer your questions.
Will My Boating Accident Case Go to Trial?
Recently I spoke to someone who had been a victim of a boating accident and they asked if their case was going to trial. What I told them was that I don’t know. Most cases don’t go to trial; only a few do. What I can assure you of is that if you’re case does go to trial, you’ll be very well prepared. It’s an opportunity for you to tell your story, and it’s nothing to be worried about.
Also, you will always be the boss on whether or not we take any settlement offer or we go to trial. My role is to advise you on whether an offer is fair or unfair. You, the client, always get to make the decision on whether or not to take an offer.
If you’ve been a victim of a boating accident in Texas, please don’t hesitate to contact our office and we’ll answer any questions.
Contact Our Texas Office Today
If you need help building a successful claim, please call Austin boat accident attorney Daniel Smith today for a free consultation to see how we can get to work to help protect your rights and get you the compensation that you deserve. Let us do the heavy lifting while you focus on recovering.