A boating accident, much like a motorized vehicle accident, can be an incredibly jarring experience. However, unlike car accidents, boat accidents come with the added danger of drowning or going adrift at sea. So, what do you do if you are involved in a boating accident? There are several crucial steps you must take.
1. Check on the Safety of Your Party
The very first thing you should do after a boat collision is make sure everyone on board is safe. If someone fell overboard, help them into the boat immediately so they don’t drown or float away. If the boat is destroyed in the accident, grab on to any floating debris around you and make sure your party stays together.
If one or more people are injured, check the severity of their injuries and apply first aid if you can. Make sure everyone is wearing a lifejacket, if they weren’t already, and try to contact the Coast Guard for assistance.
Even if you or someone in your party doesn’t believe they’ve been injured, everyone should see a medical professional after the accident. Shock and adrenaline can sometimes mask serious symptoms of injury. Make sure everyone is examined by a physician.
2. Gather Information
Once everyone in your party has been accounted for and injuries have been tended to, you will need to obtain information from the operator of the other vessel, as well as witnesses.
This information should include:
- the name, address, and phone number of the boat operator;
- the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the passengers aboard the vessel, as well as any other vessel that witnessed the accident;
- the registration or identification number of the other vessel(s) involved in the accident; and
- the insurance company names and policy numbers of those involved in the crash.
You should also take photographic evidence of the boat accident as well as the location of the event. You and your boat accident attorney will need this information if you are trying to win a personal injury case. This evidence can help prove that any injuries sustained were a direct result of the accident. Medical records will also help back your claim.
3. Report the Accident
In many cases, reporting a boating accident to the U.S. Coast Guard is required by federal law. Much like when you file a police report for an automobile accident, filing with the Coast Guard means there will be an official accident report in the public record. If you need to make an insurance claim that ends up going to court, it will be a crucial point of evidence.
A boating accident report must be filed if:
- Someone is killed;
- Someone is injured badly enough to need medical care beyond first aid;
- There is damage to vessels or property exceeding $2,000;
- A vessel is destroyed or lost; or
- Someone disappears from a vessel.
Even if you believe you caused the boating accident, you must never admit fault to the other parties involved or to their insurance companies. Doing so automatically makes you the at-fault party could jeopardize the investigation as well as your claim.
Furthermore, you should never speak to any insurance company other than your own. Your insurance company and/or your attorney can handle all negotiations and investigations involved in your case.
Contact Eliot Reiner, APLC
If you have recently been involved in a boating accident and are looking for compensation for your injuries, reach out to our firm today. Our attorney is passionate about our clients’ wellbeing and will do whatever it takes to get compensation for the pain and suffering that resulted from your accident.
Call us today at (916) 778-3228 or contact us online for a consultation.