When Should I Report a Boating Accident?

What are the boat accident laws when do you have to call the cops

There are a lot of similarities between piloting a boat and driving a car. Granted you are at much less risk of a collision when on a boat due to less traffic (at least in most scenarios), but accidents still definitely happen from time to time. Whether you're colliding with another vessel or an inanimate object either natural or man-made, it's not a great situation to encounter but you should absolutely know when should you report a boating accident We will cover each situation that warrants a call either to the authorities or to your insurance company.

Collision With Another Vessel

When you are in the thick of things during a gathering or event it's actually quite easy for your boat to be bumped a bit by other attendees. The question then becomes whether the damage done is worth contacting anyone for. My boat is a bit worn out, so a scrape or bump here doesn't bother me too much. As long as it isn't malicious, I let the little things slide. Accidents do happen after all. If it's a bit more than a little bump or if I'm convinced the other captain is trying any funny business, then it's time to get other people involved.

Out on the open ocean, it's much less common to see another vessel, let alone collide with one. If a crash does happen out there it generally happens at higher speeds and becomes a much more dangerous thing to deal with. While it might seem scary to run this risk, the chances of this actually happening to you or anyone you know is fairly small. Still, it's best to be prepared and aware of the proper procedures to follow if you do have the unfortunate luck of becoming a victim of a boating collision on the open water.

When Should I Report a Boating Accident tanker wreck

Collision With Inanimate Objects

This occurrence is uncannily common. There isn't a boater I know that has had the good fortune to never crash into anything at least once. Again, it could be a tiny scrape that you can easily skip over or repair yourself... After a nasty scrape you can probably use a bit of sealant, so might I suggest our new boat wax sealant hybrid? If you don't know much about ceramic sealant, we have a blog for that! Check out 'what is a ceramic sealant?' to stay informed! Buffing metal can take out light scratches, and after that buffing you can get your boat back on point with some marine metal polish.

Lets say you are enjoying yourself on the water and when you're about to take things in for the day and heading for the boat ramp, the throttle becomes stuck. You launch your boat into the dock, and while nobody was injured your fiberglass hull suffers $2100 worth of damage. Do you know without a shadow of a doubt whether or not you are legally required to report that accident? The answer is that you are indeed required to submit a written accident report. Why? Let's look at some of the rules about when to report a boat accident and how quickly it needs to get done.

When To Report A Boating Accident

A formal written accident report is required to be filed when the following situations occur:

  • Life is lost due to the accident.
  • Someone is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid.
  • There is a complete loss of the vessel or damage to the vessel and property exceeding $2000. (Many states have set a limit less than $2000 – contact the local state boating authority to determine the amount).
  • Any person on board a vessel disappears (under circumstances indicating death or injury).

Boating Accident Reports are required to be filed within:

  • 48 hours of the occurrence or if a person dies within one day (24 hours)
  • 48 hours if a person is injured and medical treatment beyond first aid is required.
  • 10 days if there is only damage to the vessel and/or property.
When Should I Report a Boating Accident boat wreckWhen Should I Report a Boating Accident boat wreck

    Determining Who Is At Fault

    The first step in reporting a boating accident of any sort is to determine who is legally responsible for the collision. This will determine who will be held accountable for any damages. In certain cases it might also result in civil or criminal liability. That's never fun, but if you're in such a situation it's a much better option to simply face it rather than trying to run and hide. Consequences will catch up with the guilty party, and will be many times worse than if they had simply taken full responsibility and issued an apology.

    Whether you or the other party is considered legally liable for the crash, there will need to be an exchange of information. An insurance number might be enough, but just to be thorough you should also take down the name of the boat as well as the boat number, get the owners name(s),  their addresses, contact numbers, and anything else that you can think of that seem reasonable. If there are any witnesses to the events you should also take down their contact information as well just in case you need to have them called into court. An address book is always handy, but particularly in situations like these.

    Final Thoughts

    Boating can be one of the best recreational activities around. Most accidents won't require reporting of any kind, but a larger accident does happen then take your consequences on the chin. Even a boating accident that ends in a criminal case isn't usually a scenario that needs to be agonized over. You can bounce back from almost anything, so report a boating accident if necessary, confront the problem and get it taken care of.