Boating accidents may not be as prevalent as ones involving automobiles, but a significant number of people each year end up getting injured as a result of someone else's negligence. According to data collected by the United States Coast Guard, 4,463 boat accidents occurred off American shores in 2016 alone. Out of all those accidents, over 2,900 injuries took place.
The first priority after an accident is making sure everyone is safe and uninjured; contact medical authorities if anyone is hurt. However, in the event there are no injuries, there are certain actions that are still required when two boats collide.
Alert the authorities
In car accidents, people should contact the police. Sometimes, people try to skirt around this step, but for boat accidents, it is absolutely essential. It may even be prudent to have a report filed by the Coast Guard. Federal law requires a report if any of the following occurred with the accident:
- Someone is badly injured
- Someone has died
- One or both of the vessels are completely destroyed
- Someone has disappeared
- Damage to one or both vessels exceeds $2,000
Even if none of the above are relevant, it is always preferable to have a report on file just in case. There may be issues if the incident goes to court, and a report from the Coast Guard holds a lot of weight.
Exchange insurance information
Both boat owners should exchange insurance information, which will help with the settlement. Problems can arise with this. For instance, one of the boat owners may lack insurance. It is also possible the boat was not under the control of the owner when the collision took place. In these cases, attorneys recommend obtaining the person's contact information so people can reach them if necessary. People have rights after a boating accident, and it is vital to follow these steps to ensure everyone is taken care of.