Is the Boat That My Employer Has Me Using Safe?

Boats with tunnel hulls are built to capture a pocket of air under the hull, which helps reduce drag on the outside of the hull, allowing the vessel to handle better at higher speeds.

Unfortunately, instead of handling better, a 17-foot tunnel hull boat reportedly handled worse, because it was allegedly used in the wrong type of conditions. According to The Dallas Morning News, after the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) completed its investigation of a Memorial Day weekend boating accident involving one of its game wardens, TPWD reported that the boat involved had a known history of spinning out of control.

Reportedly, despite multiple wardens knowing that the boat involved in the crash was “dangerous and unpredictable”, the vessel was passed from one field office to another within the TPWD’s fleet for 15 years. In addition to the boat’s known dangers, the Morning News reported that even though it was designed to operate in very shallow water, the TPWD used the boat at Sam Rayburn Lake, which at 114,000 acres, is the biggest lake completely within the borders of Texas.

Since the completion of the TPWD’s investigation, the boat involved in the Memorial Day wreck, along with another just like it, have been removed from its fleet.

“We intend to make purchases of boats in the future to meet our performance needs but with safety in mind,” said Craig Hunter, the director of TPWD’s Law Enforcement Division.

What Is Unseaworthiness?

As maritime trial lawyer David Anderson explains in the video above, if all the parts of a vessel that an employer provides for a seaman to do his or her job are not safe, then under the law of unseaworthiness, employers can be held accountable for their negligence and seamen can recover compensation for any injuries they suffer because of it.

Latti’s Little Extra: When race boats have tunnel hulls, they are sometimes called “hydroplanes,” according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Latti & Anderson LLP Nationwide Maritime Attorneys