What to Do If You Are in a Boating Accident

Many people enjoy boating. The problem, however, that often occurs is that new and inexperienced boat operators often find themselves in the middle of a boating accident.

This inexperience not only contributes to accidents, but it leaves these operators wondering what they are supposed to do when it comes to reporting the boat accident. It is critical to follow the procedures according to the laws in your state and the requirements of reporting. Failure to do so can result in denial of any insurance claim and – even more serious – criminal charges that could result in a conviction and penalties.

Although each state has their own rules, generally, there are some common guidelines to report a boating accident. To learn more or if you have been injured in a boating accident, contact a lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer from Wiseman Bray Attorneys, to speak with someone who can help. 

When to File a Boating Accident Report

A boat operator should file a boating accident report with the appropriate state or local law enforcement agencies if the accident caused an injury that required medical attention. The accident also needs to be reported if a victim was killed in the accident or if any of the occupants of the watercraft disappeared. The accident also needs to be reported if there was damage to the boat totaling $2,000 or more.

Failure to file a boating accident report when required under law could result in a criminal charge, usually a misdemeanor. If a person has died or disappeared in the accident, you need to contact emergency services right away so a rescue operation can be initiated immediately. If you are only reporting damage to the boat or property, you can report it to the proper department based on your state’s procedure. You do not have to notify emergency services.

The majority of states, if not all, have a time frame of how long an operator has to report a boating accident. Keep in mind if there are any injuries, you should call emergency services right away.

Generally, the reporting should be as follows:

  • If a victim dies within 24 hours of the accident, the operator needs to report it within 48 hours.
  • If a victim was seriously injured, the operator needs to report the accident within 48 hours.
  • If a victim is missing, the operator needs to report the accident within 48 hours.
  • If a victim was injured enough to require more medical attention than just first aid, the operator needs to report the accident within 10 days.
  • If the watercraft is totally damaged beyond repair, the operator needs to report the accident within 10 days.
  • If there was property damage totaling $2,000 or more, the operator needs to report the accident within 10 days.

If you have been involved in a boating accident, contact a law firm as soon as possible to speak with a skilled boating accident attorney to find out what your legal options are. Don’t wait — it is important that this is done in a timely manner. 

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