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Fatal boating accidents are a summertime risk in Texas

For many Texans, summertime brings the pleasure of boating -- whether it is on one of the local lakes, rivers or in the Gulf of Mexico. Boating can be a great way to escape Texas's heat and enjoy time with friends and family. Unfortunately, however, sometimes negligent boaters can cause tragic and fatal accidents on the water.

Fatal boating accidents are on the rise according to the U.S. Coast Guard. In 2014, there were 4,064 accidents that led to the deaths of 610 persons. This rate of 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels represents an increase of 10.6 percent from the prior year's fatality rate. The actual number of accidents only increased marginally, but the number of deaths increased more significantly.

Drowning is the most significant cause of death for persons involved in boating accidents, with 78 percent of victims dying from drowning where the Coast Guard could identify cause of death. Overwhelmingly, at approximately 80 percent, these deceased victims were in boats that were less than 21 feet long.

Often it is a negligent boat operator that causes a fatal boating accident. An operator who is not paying attention, who fails to properly watch the person's surroundings, or who is inexperienced, is commonly linked with serious accidents.

Additionally, excessive speed and alcohol use contribute to these fatal accidents, with alcohol being the leading cause. The Coast Guard identified alcohol use as the leading factor in 21 percent of fatal boating deaths in situations where they could identify a primary cause of an accident.

If people have experienced the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another boater, they may have a wrongful death cause of action. It may be beneficial to seek out legal counsel to help answer any questions they may have and guide them regarding how best to proceed.

Source: American Boating Association, "Boating Fatality Facts," accessed Aug. 14, 2015

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Jerry D. Andrews, P.C.
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