What Types of Boating Accidents Must Be Reported?

If you’ve ever operated a boat, you may have wondered when you must report a boating accident. There are specific guidelines to be considered in Florida when a boating accident occurs. These laws are in place to ensure that accidents are dealt with fairly and safely.

A boating accident that results in a vessel sinking is pictured.

If you’ve been involved in a boating accident in Florida, and have sustained injuries resulting from the accident, contact an experienced Florida boating accident lawyer to discuss your options.

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Involved in a Boating Accident?

With its numerous rivers, beaches, and lakes, Florida is one of the top boating destinations in our country, and for a good reason! Boating is an enjoyable way to spend time, but some risk is involved. Florida also has the highest number of boating accidents reported in the USA each year, totaling 836 accidents in 2020, which unfortunately marks a significant 16% increase from 2019.

After a boating accident occurs, there are certain things that boat operators must do that are required by law, much like when car accidents occur.

The steps you should follow after a watercraft accident are:

  • Notify law enforcement
  • Provide first aid to those who require it
  • Exchange information with anyone else involved in the accident
  • Remain at the scene until directed to leave by authorities – it is against the law to leave the accident scene without complying with all legal obligations
  • Take reasonable steps to notify a vessel owner of damage if their vessel was unattended at the time of the accident.

What Boating Accidents Need to Be Reported?

No matter how responsible you are as a boating operator, accidents happen. Paying attention, operating your boat only while sober, and being educated on boating laws can help you significantly reduce the chance of being involved in an accident but can’t completely eradicate the risk.

Being involved in a boating accident can be a scary, stressful time, but knowing how and when to report an accident can take some of the uncertainty away from a frustrating and potentially expensive incident.

You are required to file a written boat accident report when:

  • A person dies due to the accident within 24 hours of the accident
  • Someone disappears as a result of the accident
  • Any injury occurs that needs more medical attention than typical first aid

If any of the above occurs, Florida law mandates that you report the accident as soon as possible, while federal law stipulates that the accident must be reported within 48 hours. Additionally, there are other federal guidelines:

You are required to report the accident within ten days if:

  • The accident causes more than $2000 in property damage
  • Someone dies after 24 hours due to the accident
  • If a vessel is completely lost.

How Do I Report a Boating Accident?

If you’ve been involved in a boating accident in Florida and meet any of the criteria listed above, you will need to report the accident to one of the following authorities:

  • Florida Division of Law Enforcement, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • County sheriff in the location the accident occurred
  • The municipality police where the accident occurred

Even if you are not sure if your accident meets the criteria outlined above, it is always better to err on the side of caution. It is important to note that failure to report a boat accident is considered a criminal offense in Florida.

What Are the Common Causes of Boating Accidents in Florida?

Though many factors can contribute to boating accidents, the U.S. Coast Guard lists these as the most common causes of accidents:

  • Operator Inattention — Just like driving a vehicle on the road, distracted boating is a major contributor to boating accidents. In fact, Seth Wagner of the FWC Boating and Waterway section says, “Many operators…are distracted by dividing their attention between things like electronic devices or other occupants in the boat.” The FWC considers this a significant cause of boating accidents in Florida.
  • Operator Inexperience — The minimum age to drive a boat in Florida is 14, though anyone under 25 must first complete a boating safety course before driving in public areas. There are no licensing requirements for personal vessels apart from this, and operator inexperience contributes to many boating accidents.
  • Improper Lookout — When someone is operating a boat, they need to exercise the same vigilance they do when driving a vehicle. Boat operators should continuously scan the front and sides of the boat for any issues and be aware of other boats around them. Failure to do so can result in an accident.
  • Excessive Speed — Exceeding the posted speeds while operating a boat can increase the likelihood of an accident.
  • Machinery Failure — When the vital mechanics of a boat fail, it could cause the boat to stall, leaving the operator unable to move. Other features vital to the safety of the vessel may also be compromised. Any failure could cause the operator to lose control of their boat or be unable to take proper measures in the wake of one, contributing to an accident’s severity.

Contact Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd After Your Boating Collision

If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious boating accident and become injured, as a result, contact an experienced boat accident attorney from Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd. Our firm has been serving the Treasure Coast for over 30 years, fighting for our clients to receive the compensation they need to move on from their accident.

Call us today to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation. One of our attorneys will listen to the details of your case and provide you with individualized feedback and advice about how to best move forward in your case.

If you have been injured, you should be able to spend the time after the accident concentrating on healing. By hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer from Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, you can focus your energy on physically recuperating while knowing that you have someone fighting for you financially. Contact us today by calling us at (866) 930-6435 or finding us online, so we can start working for you!

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