No one ever expects to be involved in a boating accident, which is why many struggle with figuring out how to deal with one when they are. Few are familiar with the legal requirements for reporting an accident to the authorities, but this is an important step in obtaining recovery for your harms.
From the time of the accident itself, boat operators in Florida have up to 48 hours to initially report the incident to either the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or the relevant local police department. Separately from reporting the accident, though, there are several steps that you can take that will preserve your ability to secure compensation that you deserve.
If you sustained injury in a boating accident, the time is now to call the seasoned Florida boat accident lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. at (305) 204-5369. Call now to get your free initial case evaluation.
How to Call in a Boating Accident in Florida
You should not mistake boat accident reporting requirements with seeking the assistance of emergency services. If you are involved in a boating accident in Florida, you should always call 911 as soon as possible. The emergency dispatcher will connect you to the Coast Guard or another first-response department that can provide you the immediate assistance that you need.
If you are out of cell phone range or otherwise are unable to call 911, you can also use your vessel’s on-board radio to request help. Channel 16 is the emergency frequency used by the Coast Guard to contact boaters in distress in Florida waters.
Reporting Requirements for Boat Operators After Accidents in Florida
In most situations involving boating accidents, the boat operator is responsible for filing an official accident report to document the situation. Under Florida law, boating accident reports are required in any of the following situations:
- A boating accident results in death or disappearance
- An injury from the accident requires immediate first aid
- The accident results in damage to boats or other property of at least $2,000
Reports should be made to the Florida Division of Law Enforcement, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by calling (888) 404-3922. Alternatively, you may choose to make your report to the sheriff or police department in the county or municipality where the accident occurred. If you are not sure which department covers your accident location, reach out to your local Miami boat accident lawyer for help.
In any case, you may begin your boating accident report by calling, but you will likely have to follow the call up with written forms, such as Coast Guard Form CG-3865: Recreational Boating Accident Report. This will apply regardless of where you call. But making the call to report your accident is important because of the time window that you are afforded. Under federal law, reports for boating accidents must be filed within 48 hours of the accident. Calling to begin the report will satisfy this deadline so that you can take the time necessary to fill out the written report fully and accurately.
What Should You Do After a Boating Accident in Florida?
In the event of a boating accident in Florida, there are several steps that you should take both at the scene of the accident and immediately after. Some of these steps are actually required by law, while some will address your own best interests.
Call Emergency Services
As discussed above, you should either call or radio for emergency assistance immediately. The first responders will be able to render immediate medical care and also help document the circumstances of the accident.
Collect Information from All Parties
Be sure to get the name, address and boating registration number of any other party involved in the accident. This may include boat owners, property owners, boat operators, and passengers. It is better to have too much information than not enough. In addition, share your information with all affected parties. If you’re involved in a boating accident in which the boat’s owner is not present, Florida law requires you to take all reasonable steps to notify the owner that the accident occurred.
Gather Evidence at the Scene of the Accident
Once you leave the site, much of the critical evidence you may need to pursue compensation or substantiate your claim will be lost. The best way to preserve this evidence for future use is to take pictures and video. You should attempt to cover damage to boats and property, water and weather conditions, channel markers or dock conditions, and any other aspects that you may feel are relevant to the accident.
Talk to Eyewitnesses
Eyewitnesses are a vital source of information in any personal injury, including those resulting from boating accidents. Do your best to get contact information from any willing individuals who saw what transpired.
Get Medical Attention
Even if you received emergency treatment at the scene of the accident, you should always visit your nearest emergency room as soon as possible afterwards. Hospitals are the best option, as they are most capable of diagnosing your condition, especially if it does not present itself immediately. This also helps to establish a direct record of your injuries and connects them to the accident.
Talk to a Florida Boating Accident Lawyer
Once you have had your injuries addressed and treated, it is never too early to contact an attorney to help you through the process of reporting the accident and recovering for your harms. Your attorney can assist you in filing your official report, dealing with insurance companies and other parties, and taking your case to court to get the justice that you deserve.
Call Our Florida Boating Accident Attorneys if You Were Involved in a Florida Boating Accident
Boating accidents are serious and deserve legal representation to match. When you reach out to the Jacksonville boating accident lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A., you can get your first case evaluation for free. Call (305) 204-5369 to learn more.