What Does An Operator Need to Do After a Boating Accident?
An operator involved in a boating accident must do the following steps:
1. Ensure the Safety of All Passengers
The first action that an operator needs to do after a boating accident is to ensure the safety of all their passengers. A boat operator has a legal duty to help anyone injured in the accident. Administer first aid if needed or request medical assistance. If anyone fell overboard, get them back onto the boat as soon as possible.
The boat operator must stop the boat immediately at the scene of the accident unless doing so would cause harm to anyone on board. Examples of such cases are when the boat is sinking or is in the way of being hit by other boats. In this instance, it's better to move the boat into a safer location or, if it's sinking, get it to shore. Otherwise, stay where you are.
If there are injuries or extensive damages to the boats involved in the accident, immediately call for law enforcement.
2. Document the Incident
Although a boating accident might not always lead to a civil case, an insurance claim will still most likely occur. So it's always better to be prepared by documenting the scene of the accident. Take photo evidence, collect information from people involved in the boating accident, and ask for a copy of the police report.
Also, provide your contact information, vessel identification number, and insurance details to anyone involved in the boating accident.
3. File a Boating Accident Report
If the boating accident involved a loss of life, disappearance, or someone being injured requiring medical attention beyond first aid, then the driver involved needs to file a written boating accident report. This also applies if the property damage is more than $2,000, as well as if the vessel was totaled.
Florida law requires operators to submit an accident report within 48 hours if the condition above was met. It should be made to the Division of Law Enforcement, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the County Sheriff, or the police chief of the city where the accident occurred.
4. Contact An Attorney
The boat operator should call an experienced boating accident attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and gather the evidence you might need for a compensation claim.