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After a Boating Accident: Filing an Accident Report

After a Boating Accident: Filing an Accident Report

In our last blog, we discussed how to manage a boating accident. While things are in disarray after a collision, it’s the boater’s responsibility to file an accident report with your state boating authority. However, since law enforcement officers aren’t traditionally tasked with filing auto incident reports, we’re compiled the necessary information you need to file a report in a timely manner.

When to file.

This varies based on where the accident occurred and the severity of it. However, according to Boating Safety Magazine, federal law requires a report within 48 hours of an accident that involves a vessel or its equipment if – as a result of that accident – a person dies within 24 hours, a person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid, or a person disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury. A report must be filed within 10 days of an accident in which damage to vessels and other property totals $2,000 or more, there is a complete loss of any vessel, or a person dies more than 24 hours after the accident.

To be sure you are in compliance with your state authority, check their website to determine how much damage is required before filing an accident report.

How to file an accident report.

You can download the federal form or obtain a hard copy from your state boating authority. Once the accident report is viewed and the cause is identified, it will be sent to the Coast Guard.

To file an accident report in person, visit your state’s Department of Natural Resources, Department of Fish, Game, and Wildlife, or State Police.

This is also the time to file a Boat Insurance claim with your provider. Your insurance claim is separate from your accident report, but both are equally important.

Who should file the report?

Whoever was operating the boat at the time of the accident is required to file the report. However, if they are unable to, the owner of the boat becomes the next responsible person, unless they were the one navigating the vessel.

Why should I file?

Reporting the details of your accident can help to promote safe boating practices in your local marinas and waterways. The Coast Guard utilizes this information to identify boat defects and analyze safe boating practices.

The article states that fling also helps state boating authorities and the Coast Guard identify hazardous boater behaviors that contribute to recreational boat accidents and fatalities. These data are compiled in the Coast Guard’s annual report Recreational Boating Statistics, available online here.


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