It’s no secret: Texans love their boats. And why shouldn’t we? With 4,959 square miles of fresh water to enjoy, Texas is a great place to own and enjoy a boat. But unfortunately, our state is also one of the highest in the nation for boating accidents. With over 154 boating accidents in 2015, 39 of them fatal, it’s important that all Texans know how to use their boats safely and protect themselves and others.
How do you avoid a boating accident? And if you own a boat, what should you do to make sure you aren’t hit with an expensive lawsuit as a result of an accident? Here are some great tips.
Know the Law for Boating in Texas
As the owner of a boat, make sure you know the laws around boat safety, including what kind of safety equipment you’re required to have on board. A great resource? The U.S. Coast Guard Mobile app, which gives you access to your state laws, lists the safety equipment you need and even allows you to request a safety check. Get it at the App Store or on Google Play.
Get Educated on Texas Boat Safety
State law requires all boat operators born after 1993 to complete a boater education course, which you can do easily online. Boater education courses may also be required if you violate the state’s Water Safety Act. Even if you’re not required to take a course, a boat safety course could teach you or remind you of important safety rules that could prevent an accident. Take advantage of these easy, quick courses and make sure you know what to do to keep safe.
Boat Insurance Not Required in Texas, But Get It Anyway
Although Texas law doesn’t require you to have an insurance policy for your boat, you should think about getting one anyway. Your home insurance policy will not protect your boat nor will it protect you from lawsuits related to your boat. A boat insurance policy will help you replace or repair your boat in the case of damage and it will also provide liability coverage if you’re in an accident. Learn more about why you need boat insurance from the Texas Department of Insurance.
Don’t Drink and Drive Your Boat
According to Boat US, alcohol is involved in over 50 percent of boat accidents. Although you’re allowed to have open containers of alcohol while on your boat, boating while intoxicated is against the law in Texas. If you’re arrested for boating under the influence, you could get up to 180 days in jail, pay a fine up to $2,000 and have your drivers license taken away.
Get Legal Help
If you were involved in a boating accident, make sure you talk to a lawyer. While a Texas Legal policy doesn’t cover liability from a boating accident or allow you to pursue a personal injury claim, you can use your policy to consult with a lawyer for free or have a lawyer review your boat insurance to look for possible gaps in coverage. Make sure you have an expert in your corner if you’re hit with a lawsuit or want to pursue one.
Enjoy your time on the water this summer, Texans! Just make sure you do it safely so you don’t face an unexpected injury or expensive lawsuit.