Steps to Take Following a Boating Accident

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( — July 31, 2020) — No one wants to be involved in a boating accident, no matter how insignificant it is. Unfortunately, people do everything right, such as maintain safe cruising speed, careful monitoring of navigation aids, and weather conditions, but still end up in boat accidents. According to the U.S. Coast Guard data, the number of reported boating accidents have been on the rise since 2013. Following the right procedure after a boating accident goes a long way to ensure the safety of everyone on board. Below are the proper steps to take after an accident:

Ensure the Safety of Passengers On-Board

After an accident has happened, no matter its severity, make sure that no one has fallen into the water. Take the number of injured people, including yourself, and ensure everyone is wearing their life jackets correctly, especially if there are any damages to the boat. Suppose anyone on board needs medical assistance, anchor the boat, and start focusing on such people’s needs. Anchoring the ship prevents any further injuries to the people on board. Never leave the scene of a boating accident. If you were injured during the accident, see a physician following the accident and explain about the accident.

Call for Assistance

If there is phone reception, call 911. Also, make a distress call using the VHF radio on channel 16. Making these calls will allow the nearest emergency responders to mobilize and come to your aid. Radio calls have an added advantage as they can reach other boat owners who are closer. Give information such as your location and number of injured people on board so that the emergency responders can quickly respond with the appropriate medical equipment.

Gather Information Regarding the Accident

Once you are confident that everyone is out of immediate danger, start gathering essential information from witnesses regarding the accident. Takedown mobile numbers and addresses of the people involved in the accident, identification or registration of other involved vessels, and take photographs of the accident scene. Taking photos of the damage done to the boat may be vital if you need to prove another ship was responsible for the accident.

Report the Accident to the U.S. Coast Guard

Reporting a boating accident to the U.S. Coast Guard is required by federal law. The Coast Guard will help determine the cause of the accident. When making a report, you should be honest, offer accurate information, and not speculate about the cause of the accident.

According to the law, one must report a boating accident if either of the following conditions occurs:

  1. Someone was killed in the process.

  2. Someone was severely wounded, and emergency medical care beyond simple first aid is required.

  3. A person disappears from the boat under circumstances that indicate death or an injury has occurred.

  4. The vessel is destroyed or completely lost during the accident.

  5. There is damage to property or the boat that exceeds 2,000 dollars.

Contact an Attorney to Make an Insurance Claim

If you are the owner of the boat, as soon as the crew on the boat is safely away from the waters, contact an attorney to help you handle the investigation into the accident’s cause. Your attorney will report the boating accidents to your insurance company to make claims for any incurred damages. Ensure you provide as many details as possible and send the photos you took during the accident. Share with the attorney any police and U.S. Coast Guard reports you filled after the accident. Even if the boat only incurred minor damages, be sure to follow up with an inspection and have all the damages repaired to be safe the next time you go out into the waters.

Ensure you consult an attorney with wide-ranging experience of representing clients who have been involved in boating accidents in the past. Boating accident cases are very different from other injury cases; choosing the best attorney is wise.

A boating accident can be a scary and confusing experience. Amid the confusion, it is not easy to know how to respond or what to do. Knowing what to do and trying to remain level-headed during such a moment can help save someone’s life.