Residents and visitors in Miami frequently enjoy the opportunity to get out on the water. Whether you are fishing, tubing, or simply enjoying a leisurely cruise, there is always potential for a costly accident. Knowing what to do in these situations can prevent injuries from worsening and preserve your opportunity to get compensation.
You should always call the authorities after an accident and alert them to what has occurred, whether by calling 911 or by using your vessel’s radio. While authorities are on their way, do your best to capture the situation on camera and get information from the other parties involved. You can use this information later to file your accident report and subsequent lawsuit to recover damages.
For all questions about what you should be doing to best serve your own interests after a boating accident, our Miami boating accident lawyers are waiting by the phone. Call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind today at (305) 204-5369 to get your free initial case assessment.
Should You Call 911 After a Boating Accident in Miami, Florida?
You might think of 911 as being associated with emergency situations on land. But emergency services dispatchers handle a wide range of situations, including those that happen in open waters. You should always attempt to call 911 after a boating accident, especially if there are injuries or the vessel was damaged to the point that you are not sure whether it is seaworthy.
When you call 911, provide the dispatcher with your location and the nature of the accident. The dispatcher will then contact the Coast Guard or some other emergency patrol service with the information that you provide. They will then make the determination of what exact services are required in your case.
If you don’t have access to a cell phone or are in an area without cell service, you should attempt to raise emergency services by radio. Every boat that operates in Florida waters is required by law to carry a functioning VHF radio. Turn your radio to Channel 16 and say the name of the party that you are attempting to contact twice, followed by your own boat’s name, and the word “over” (for example, “Emergency Responders, Emergency Responders, this is Sea Maiden, over.”)
What Else Can You Do at the Scene of a Boating Accident in Miami, Florida?
While emergency services are on the way, you can take other precautions that will help preserve evidence and benefit you in the long run. Our Tampa boating accident attorneys have provided the following steps that might aid in your subsequent recovery efforts for the consequences of your accident.
Everyone’s cell phone has a camera these days. If you are involved in a boating accident, you can use this tool to capture the scenes immediately following the accident to help preserve a record of what actually happened. Critical information that can be recorded with pictures or video may include the location of the accident, damage to property, the angle of the vessel or vessels involved, and the weather and visibility conditions at the time of the accident.
If your injuries prevent you from getting this documentation, it is okay to try to capture it later. Even if you ultimately do not have to use photos or videos from the scene to recover compensation, it can nonetheless be helpful to have them just in case.
Whether your boat crashed into a stationary object or collided with another vessel, you will want to get information from all parties involved, such as the property owner or other captain. If the other vessel was commercially operated, you will want the name of the company that owns and operates it, as well as how it was being used at the time of the accident. All of this information will be important in determining liability for the accident. You should also try to get insurance information from the other parties, but this can be resolved later so long as you have their names and contact information.
Reporting a Boating Accident in Miami, Florida
If you were the owner or operator of a boat that was involved in an accident in Florida, you will have to comply with Florida reporting requirements. All boating accidents in Florida waters that fit any of the following criteria must be reported:
- Death or disappearance
- Bodily injury
- Property damage of over $2,000 in value (including non-boat property such as docks)
All reports can be submitted to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. However, you may choose to report your accident to the sheriff of the appropriate county or the municipality’s law enforcement arm, such as the Miami Police Department.
Can You Leave the Scene of a Boating Accident in Miami, Florida?
Florida law prohibits individuals who are involved in boating accidents from leaving the scene prematurely. All parties that do not have emergent medical conditions that require immediate treatment must say at the scene until the authorities arrive and conduct their investigation.
Leaving the scene of an accident with only property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor, while doing so after bodily injuries have occurred is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison with a $5,000 fine.
If the other party attempts to flee the scene before the authorities arrive, make contact with emergency services and provide them with a description of the other vessel so that patrols can search the surrounding area for them.
When Should You Contact a Miami Boating Accident Lawyer?
The sooner you reach out to the experienced Florida boating accident attorneys at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A., the better. From the date of your accident, you have a maximum of four years to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries and property damage.
Preparing a lawsuit can take time, so you will want to give your lawyer as much notice as possible before the deadline. In the meantime, you can have your lawyer handle the communication with the other party’s insurance company and compile records of all your costs for damage calculations.
Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. Can Help You After a Miami Boating Accident
For your free initial case assessment after a Miami boating accident caused injury or property damage, call our offices at (305) 204-5369.