From tourists on vacations to fishermen earning a living, thousands of people are on boats every day in Florida. When an accident happens, you need to know who to call.
Boating accidents are like any other kind of vehicle accident; they must be reported to the proper authorities. However, the agencies and entities you report boat accidents to are not necessarily the same as those you would report a car accident to. Some entities deal specifically with boating issues and water safety. You should report all boating accidents for your own safety and because it is often legally required. It is important to know who to call after a boat accident as different entities might have authority depending on where the accident occurred. Following a boat accident, you should contact the proper authorities, get immediate medical attention, and speak to an attorney.
You might feel overwhelmed after a serious boating accident. Our Florida boat accident lawyers can help you make sense of your situation and help you hold those responsible accountable for their negligence. For a free case review, call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A.at (305) 204-5369.
Who to Call After a Boating Accident in Florida?
There is not one but several entities you can call after a boating accident for help. After an accident, our Lake Kissimmee boat accident lawyers can help you explore legal options for compensation. According to Florida Statute § 327.30(2), you should call one of the following entities immediately after a boating accident:
- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement,
- The sheriff of the county where the accident occurred, or
- The police department of the municipality in which the accident occurred.
By law, you are required to call and report a boat accident involving a collision or accident upon entering or exiting the water. Accidents or collisions involving capsizing, crashes with other boats, sinking, medical emergencies involving treatment beyond first aid, death, disappearance, or damage amounting to at least $2,000 must be reported. Failure to report such an accident to proper authorities may be considered a criminal offense.
The FWC is divided into different regions of the state and can be contacted at the following phone numbers:
- Northwest Region (850) 265-3676
- North Central Region (386) 758-0525
- Northeast Region (352) 732-1225
- Southwest Region (863) 648-3200
- South Region A (561) 625-5122
- South Region B (305) 956-2500
Contact information for sheriff’s offices or local police departments will vary depending on the county, city, or town of your accident. If you are unsure what phone number to call, you should call 911.
Why You Should Report Boating Accidents in Florida
As briefly mentioned earlier, you should call the authorities after a boat accident because it is required by law. Boat accidents are extremely dangerous and often come with the risk of drowning. Failing to report an accident may be a criminal offense, depending on the circumstances. Even if nobody is injured in your boat accident, there might be serious damage to your vessel, and the authorities should be contacted.
When called to the scene, the authorities can assess the accident and help us determine who is responsible. While you might be an experienced boater, others on the water are often inexperienced tourists on vacation. Alcohol is a prominent factor in many boating accidents, and the authorities might arrest the operator of the other vessel for being under the influence. Information contained with reports filed by the authorities might also be extremely useful to our Miami boat accident attorneys in a subsequent lawsuit against the other operator.
You should also call the authorities after a boat accident so you can get any necessary emergency assistance. Injuries in boating accidents can be serious. Passengers are often not restrained by seatbelts and might be violently thrown about the vessel in a collision. In other cases, passengers might be thrown from the vessel into the water. Hitting your head before going overboard puts you at very serious risk of death by drowning.
Sometimes, people go overboard but do not resurface, and it might be unclear if they are okay or resurfaced elsewhere. The authorities can help you get emergency medical attention and help look for any missing people after a boat collision.
Who Has Authority Over a Florida Boat Accident?
Exactly who has authority over your boat accident depends on where the accident happened. As mentioned above, the authorities you should call depend on where you are during the boat accident. The FWC is broken up by region, and you should take note of local law enforcement contact information before setting sail.
If you decide to pursue legal action after a boat accident, jurisdiction in your case is also likely to be determined by geographic location. Florida is a large state, and multiple courts might govern cases based on where they happen within the state. Knowing where your accident occurred will help our Jacksonville boat accident lawyers file your case with the correct court.
What You Should Do Following a Florida Boating Accident
Immediately following a boat accident, you should call the authorities and get emergency assistance. Even if you do not believe you are badly injured, you should seek medical care for possible unknown injuries. Doing so helps to make your medical records more accurate in case you end up in court for your accident.
You should also take photos of the accident scene and damage to your vessel. If your boat is sinking, you should focus on getting help immediately. Otherwise, snapping some pictures of the damaged vessels helps to preserve key details about the accident we can present in court.
Once you have taken stock of your injuries and damages, you should contact an attorney about your accident. Our Tampa boat accident lawyers can help you file a lawsuit to claim damages for your injuries and property loss.
Contact Our Florida Boat Accident Lawyers for Assistance
After a boat accident, you should call for help and report the crash to the authorities. The water is dangerous, and the sooner you get help, the better. Our Everglades boat accidents can help you take legal action to get compensation for your damages. Call Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A.at (305) 204-5369 for a free case assessment.