Is having an accident with your boat like having a car accident? Do you even have to report maritime accidents? Can’t you just exchange insurance information with the other person and boat involved?
If you have an accident while boating, federal regulations require you, as the operator or owner of the boat, to file an accident report if any of the following results:
- someone dies;
- someone disappears from your boat and it is likely that he or she is injured or dead;
- someone is hurt to the extent that medical treatment beyond first aid is required;
- damage to your boat totals $2,000 or more; and
- your boat is destroyed.
According to the most recent report released by the U.S. Coast Guard, five people die on the average for every 100,000 registered recreational boats. Maybe it doesn’t seem like such a high number when you’re smoothly sailing away, but reporting accidents that happen while boating often poses more difficult and challenging issues than other accidents such as car accidents.
Keep these six key things in mind and you can avoid a shipwreck when you have to report an accident happening on the water:
- INJURY – If you or anyone else is injured, the law requires you to provide all needed medical treatment possible. Seek immediate medical attention to prevent your injuries from getting worse, and to document how extensive they might be.
- EVIDENCE – Determining how an accident was caused is at the core of reporting. Document every detail you can surrounding the accident, including taking photographs of any property damage, injuries and the accident scene.
- TIME – Depending on the circumstances, reports must be filed within certain required time periods. If there is serious injury or death, the report must be filed within 48 hours, compared to 10 days if there is no injury involved.
- LIABILITY – Who is at fault affects what you might be able to recover for damages. Even more seriously, sometimes you may have to deal with criminal charges.
- LAW – Accidents while boating may be ruled by different categories of law like maritime law or state law. Also, you may be limited in the amount of time you have to file a claim for damages according to the statute of limitations.
- LEVERAGE – While you may not always choose to hire a lawyer, having an experienced maritime accident attorney on your side can give you the quick and complete answers you need now. Law firms skilled in challenging accidents can help you to make sure that you have all the evidence you need.
Reporting a difficult accident doesn’t have to result in a complete shipwreck experience. If you have questions concerning a maritime accident or incident, contact us as soon as possible; our maritime injury attorneys have deep experience representing people involved in a range of accidents.