Despite the many precautions boat operators take to prevent boat accidents, collisions still occur. Accidents that happen in water are relatively dangerous as they may include drowning, among other perils. However, keeping calm in a boating accident may save your life or your loved one’s life. It can also help your case when claiming damages.
As defined by the law, a boating accident is a collision where a water vessel sustains a certain degree of damages. Also, fatalities or severe injuries in a boat, whether there was a collision or not, amounts to a boat accident. You can segment what to do in a boat accident into three phases.
What to Do Immediately After a Boat Accident
You may happen to be in a boat, and a passenger dies, gets injured, or disappears without a collision. In that case, you must report the incident to the relevant authorities, usually the United States Coast Guard. You should file a report within forty-eight hours.
Boat accidents involving collisions are more hazardous. If you happen to be a victim of such an accident, you should:
- Stop the boat
- Perform a quick self-examination and check if you are seriously injured. One of the reasons why you might need a personal injury lawyer is to claim damages after sustaining injuries due to another boat operator’s negligence.
- Take a head account and account for any missing persons If you are the boat’s operator. You may also call for help if there exists any means to do so.
- Document the accident by taking photos. You may photograph the damaged boat and weather conditions. If you talk to any witnesses, be sure to take their name and address.
Be sure to attend to any injured person. If a person falls overboard, try to find a way to rescue them without jumping in the water.
What to Do a Few Hours After a Boat Accident
A few hours after the boat accident, you should have hopefully received help and gotten to shore. The next major step is to report the accident. Several regulations govern how and when to file accident reports.
How to Report a Boat Accident
If you don’t know the procedure to follow when reporting a boat accident, it would be wise to contact a boat crash lawyer. If engaging an attorney is impossible, you can call the United States Coast Guard and inquire about the filing process.
In most cases, you have to obtain forms provided by Marine Patrol troopers, the DPS-Marine Patrol Division, or county sheriff’s offices. An incident is a boat accident if:
- There was a loss of life due to its occurrence
- A person suffered severe injuries that required medical attention beyond first aid
- The boat sustained damages worth $2,000 or more (the amount may vary from state to state)
- The boat or a passenger disappeared
When to File a Boat Report
The law has strict requirements when it comes to reporting boat accidents. You should file a written report within:
- 48 hours if a person dies and within 24 hours of the accidents happening
- 48 hours if a person suffers severe injuries requiring medical attention beyond first aid
- 10 days if there was no loss of life, but the boat sustained damage
What to Do the Day After a Boat Accident
Reporting the accident and having a medical check-up should take about 24 hours. Be sure to check in with a doctor even if you feel that your injuries were just minor. Only after confirming you have no serious injuries should you commence claiming damages. Consult an experienced boat accident attorney before settling with your insurance company. If the other boat’s operator acted negligently, your lawyer could help file a suit to claim damages.