Boating is a fun and relaxing leisure activity, as well as a vital means of livelihood and transportation for many living in coastal regions. Considering the vastness of most bodies of water, you may feel fairly safe on a boat, compared to driving your car on the freeway or on busy city streets. But boating accidents do happen, and people are often unprepared to take appropriate action.
Recreational boaters are often unaware of the rules of boating, and many take their boats out infrequently, so they have less practice than they do driving a car. Moreover, recreational boating often involves alcohol and drug use, and operators are often inebriated, with impaired judgement. Add to that the unpredictable nature of weather at sea, and a boating episode that began as a fun outing can quickly become an out-of-control disaster.
If You are Involved in a Boating Accident, What is the First Step?
The safety of yourself and others is always the first priority in any accident. If the vessel is still afloat, check to see if anyone is injured or missing. Take a head count and scan the water for anyone who may have fallen overboard. Tend to any minor injuries if possible. Keep an eye out for other vessels, and signal them for help.
If your vessel is sinking or destroyed, find a sturdy piece of debris to climb atop or cling to. Once you are secure, do your best to help other passengers, and signal for help in whatever way you can. Do your best to keep everyone out of danger from other vessels.
If you have access to a radio or working cell phone, contact the Coast Guard immediately. Tell them an accident has occurred, let them know your location, and advise them on the nature of the accident and what type of medical assistance may be needed.
What if Someone is Killed or Missing After a Boating Accident?
As tragic as a death can be, you have to keep a clear head and act responsibly. If the boat is sinking or destroyed, secure the body to a floatation device or a sturdy piece of debris. If you are able to contact the Coast Guard, let them know that someone has died. If you notice that passengers are missing, look around for bodies or pieces of clothing that may indicate their location.
While you wait for help, run through the details of the accident in your head, to help you remember them later.
What to Do Immediately After a Boating Accident
Once you are safe and secure, and back on dry land, you will have to report the details of the accident to authorities. Before making a report, gather as much information as you can.
Details you need to gather include:
- Contact information of all boat operators involved.
- Contact information of all passengers.
- Contact information of eyewitnesses.
- License or ID numbers of all vessels involved.
- Insurance details. of the boat operators and other involved parries.
- Pictures of the damaged vessels and photos of injuries of crew members and passengers.
- Photos taken at the scene of the accident can be useful to investigators, especially if the boat operator was negligent.
What Type of Report Must be Filed After a Boating Accident?
You should always report a boating accident to the Coast Guard, which would be the equivalent of reporting an auto accident to the police. The Coast Guard report can become an important piece of evidence during a legal investigation.
A boating accident report is required under federal law in certain circumstances:
- When someone has died or is missing after the accident.
- When someone suffers severe injuries requiring advanced medical treatment.
- When damage to a vessel or other property exceeds $2000.
- When a vessel is completely lost or destroyed.
- When there are suspicious circumstances surrounding the accident.
You may also be required to file a report with the state authorities or Department of Natural Resources.
When reporting the accident, stick to the facts. Do not try to speculate about what happened, or offer your opinion. If you think you may be partially at fault, do not volunteer that information or admit guilt. Just recount the factual details, and allow the legal investigators to draw their own conclusions.
If you are injured in a boating accident, contact an attorney to represent you in court. If you need money while you wait for your case to settle, Cronus Capital Group may be able to provide you with a settlement cash advance, to help pay for medical and personal expenses. Contact us for more details.