| Read Time: 3 minutes | Personal Injury
if you are involved in a boating accident what is the first thing you must do

You planned on spending a relaxing, sun-soaked day out on the water enjoying the salty breeze and ocean sounds. Suddenly, an accident turns your dreamy, carefree day into a watery nightmare.

The first thing to do in a boating accident is to assess the health and safety of your passengers and, if anyone is injured, call for immediate medical attention.

Stop your boat in a safe area to avoid colliding with other vessels. Ensure all passengers are accounted for and render any necessary first aid. Most importantly, do not panic. 

If You Are Involved in a Boating Accident, What Is the First Thing You Must Do?

In 2019, California saw a total of 450 boating accidents, resulting in 207 injuries, 41 fatalities, and more than $7 million in property damage.

If tragedy strikes, remember the first action required in a boating accident is to remain calm and focus on safety. If you need help, call the Coast Guard for medical and rescue assistance. After you are out of immediate danger, take steps to protect your legal rights. 

Report the Accident

In the unfortunate event of a boating accident, your immediate actions can make a crucial difference. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do:

  1. Ensure Safety:
    • First and foremost, stop the boat promptly.
    • Conduct a quick and methodical headcount to ensure everyone is accounted for.
  2. Provide First Aid:
    • Have a well-stocked first aid kit onboard.
    • Provide immediate attention to injuries.
  3. Emergency Assistance:
    • If necessary, call 911 for medical attention.

Remember, swift and composed actions can mitigate the impact of a boating accident and ensure the well-being of everyone involved.

Under both federal and state law, you are required to report any incidents resulting in:

  • Death,
  • Disappearance,
  • Injury, 
  • Property damage exceeding $500, or
  • The complete loss of a vessel. 

Boat owners or operators need to submit the report in writing to the California Parks Division of Boating and Waterways within the required timeframe. 

There is a 48-hour deadline for accidents involving:

  • Death occurring within 24 hours of the accident, 
  • Disappearance of a person, or
  • Injury beyond first aid. 

According to California state regulations, any boating accident resulting in property damage exceeding $500 must be reported to the Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) within 10 days. This includes incidents where there is a complete loss of a vessel due to the accident.

You must mail your signed and completed form to: 

California Division of Boating and Waterways

Attn: Boating Accident Unit

PO Box 942896

Sacramento, CA 94296-0001

If you fail to report the accident, you may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and fined up to $1,000. 

Record Information

After the initial shock of the accident wears off, you should collect as much information as possible. If there are other boaters involved, make sure you exchange contact and insurance information with all parties. Useful documentation includes:

  • Photos of property damage and injuries, 
  • Witness statements describing the event, 
  • Weather and visibility conditions at the time of the accident, and
  • The exact location where the accident happened. 

You will need this data for your accident report and insurance claim. Additionally, detailed information is essential if you choose to pursue a personal injury claim

Get Treatment

If you or your passengers suffer injuries during the accident, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Keep detailed records of any costs associated with your treatment or recovery. 

Get Answers to Your Legal Questions

Boating accidents can impact your financial, physical, and emotional health in substantial ways.

Seeking fair compensation on your own through an insurance claim or lawsuit can be an overwhelming experience. A knowledgeable boating accident attorney can help you get justice. 

After a Boating Accident, Get Help You Can Trust

At Weinberg Law Offices, we know how to handle greedy insurance companies and aren’t afraid to play hardball during negotiations. No case is too big or too small, and if necessary, our team will fight for what is right all the way to the courtroom.

We are committed to keeping our clients informed and being available when you need us. That’s why it’s our goal to return all calls within the hour and no later than within one business day.

If you have questions about how to get compensation after a boating accident, contact Weinberg Law Offices today. 

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As a personal injury attorney, my mantra is that there is no such thing as a “small case”. I will give 100% matter how big or small a case may be. I am fluent in English, Hebrew, and Spanish, languages which I use regularly in my practice.

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