Boating accidents are stressful and nerve-racking events. People often underestimate how dangerous these kinds of accidents can be, but boat accidents are no laughing matter. Unlike in a car accident, boat accidents come with the added risk of falling overboard and drowning. Anyone involved in a boat accident in Florida needs to exchange information so that insurance companies can cover the costs of medical expenses and property damage. Keep reading to learn more about what kind of information you have to exchange in the event of a boat accident from our Florida boat accident attorneys at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A.
Legally Required Exchange of Information After a Boat Accident in Florida
Exchanging information after a boat accident in Florida is not just highly recommended; it is legally required. According to § 3247.30 of the Florida Statutes, you are required to provide the owner of the other boat with your name, address, and identifying information about your vessel.
You are not just responsible for exchanging information with the owner of the boat. In many cases, the owner of the boat might not even be present when the boat accident happens. This might be the case if the boat was rented or borrowed. You are required to exchange information with anyone who was injured in the accident and anyone who sustained property damage. Depending on the extent of the accident, that could be anybody on board the boat.
It may be tempting to refuse to provide any information to the other person out of fear that you might be sued. Not only is this a bit dishonest, but it could come back to haunt you later. Your behavior during and immediately after the accident could be used against you in court, according to our Miami maritime injury lawyer.
Boat Insurance Information in Florida
Unlike the information mentioned previously, insurance information is not required to be exchanged after a boat accident. This probably seems odd considering the point of boat insurance is to cover things like accidents. However, in Florida, boat insurance is not required. You can own and operate a boat without insurance if you wish. This generally applies to vessels for personal use. Ships that are involved in a commercial operation likely must have insurance for business purposes.
Just because boat insurance is not required does not mean you should not have it. Boat insurance will cover you after a boat accident for expenses related to medical treatment and repairs to your boat. It can even cover you if you are liable for damages to another person after a boat accident. Even though this information is not required by law, you should still ask about it after a boat accident, just to be safe.
Remaining at the Scene of the Boat Accident in Florida
Information is not the only thing required by law at the scene of a boat accident. You are also required to remain at the scene of the accident until the authorities or emergency services arrive. You are required to stay at the scene in order to provide any necessary first aid or other help to those who might need it. Obviously, this requirement does not mean you have to be prepared to render medical treatment. Rendering aid means doing whatever is reasonably within your power to help an injured person. It also means you cannot leave an injured person at the scene until help arrives. Think of this as a rule against a boating hit-and-run.
While this rule does not mention the exchange of information, you should still do so. Even if you refuse to tell anyone your own information, or they refuse to tell you their information, you all must wait until the authorities arrive on the scene. Once the authorities are there, they will ask for everyone’s information, so it will all come out in the end anyway. It would bode well for your case, and help your everglades boat accident lawyer, to just cooperate from the start.
Accidents with Unattended Boats
Sometimes, you might be involved in an accident with a boat that is unattended or unmanned. This could happen if you are entering or exiting a marina and strike a docked boat. You cannot simply leave just because the boat’s owner is not around. You are required by law to make efforts to track down the boat’s owner and provide them with all your information.
If the boat is docked in a marina, you can speak with a marina employee and figure out who the boat’s owner is. The marina employee could then help you get in touch with the boat’s owner. If that is not possible, leaving a note with your information might be all you can do. No matter the case, you cannot leave without providing your information or at least making an effort to do so.
Penalties for Failing to Stay on the Scene or Exchange Information After a Boat Accident in Florida
Refusing to provide your information to another person after a boat accident is not itself a punishable offense. However, the failure to do specific things that surround the accident may result in legal penalties. It is legally required that you remain at the scene, especially if there are any injuries, and render any possible aid until help arrives. It is also required that you report the incident to the proper authorities. Failing to do these things is a criminal offense. Failing to remain at the scene and render aid is considered a third-degree felony in Florida. A conviction for a third-degree felony may result in a prison term of not more than 5 years.
Remaining on the scene to deal with injuries and damage is crucial for the exchange of information. You are required to exchange information with the boat’s owner and everyone hurt or who suffered property damage. By leaving the scene early, you will not be able to give anyone this information, nor will you be able to collect this information from anyone.
Contact our Lawyers for Boat Accidents to get A Free Consultation
The exchange of information after a boat accident is crucial to your case. The sooner you exchange information with all the relevant and important parties, the sooner you can get your injuries and damages covered by insurance. Call our Miami boat accident attorney at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. at (866) 386-1762.