When Must a Boating Accident Be Reported in Florida?

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Dealing with a boating accident often requires quick action and focus.  The Florida boat accident lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind, P.A. have handled thousands of maritime and boating injury cases, and we can affirm firsthand that it is never too early to report a boating accident and begin working to get compensation for injuries and damages. Our Miami maritime injury lawyers explain how long you have to report a boating accident and what to do after an injury.

How Long Do You Have to Report Boating Accidents in Florida?

Under U.S. law, boating accidents usually need to be reported to the Coast Guard or other appropriate authorities within 48 hours of the accident – or 24 hours if there was a death.  In almost every case, there is no reason for a boat accident victim to even go this long; boat accidents should be reported immediately to help protect you, get you the medical attention you need, and protect your legal rights after the accident.

Victims of boating accident injuries may need immediate help.  In rare circumstances, they may be stranded without communication devices or emergency flares, and it could take longer to report a boating accident and get the help you need.  Barring these rare circumstances, you can often call or radio the Coast Guard or the police for help after a boating accident – or, if you need to, go to shore and report the accident there.  In no case should you wait longer than necessary because immediate investigation and emergency response may be necessary to save lives and begin important investigations.

Boating accidents can usually be reported by calling 9-1-1 or radioing local authorities.

How Long Should I Wait to Report a Boat Accident in Florida?

As mentioned, you should always report a boating accident as soon as possible instead of waiting for 24 or 48 hours.  When you report the accident immediately to the authorities and emergency services, you also accomplish three things that are extremely important: you get injured people medical attention, you protect yourself, and you protect your right to sue.

Getting Medical Attention

Especially if people were injured in the accident, it is vital to report the accident right away. Delaying getting someone medical aid could be considered negligent and may actually put you at fault for some of their injuries.  If you or a loved one was the one who as injured, you need to get medical attention as soon as possible to prevent injuries from getting worse or healing into scars or permanent injuries.  Getting proper medical attention right away is more important than nearly any other concerns after a boating accident.

Protecting Yourself

After a boating or drowning accident in the Intracoastal Waterway, you may be unable to operate your boat safely or get back to shore without assistance.  Do not risk your health and safety by trying to operate a disabled vessel.  Instead, get help from local authorities to prevent further injury and damage.

Many boating accidents are caused by drunk boaters or reckless individuals who may not be happy with the fact that they were involved in an accident – especially if they perceive the accident to be your fault.  Getting the authorities involved is often important to protect yourself and ensure that everyone keeps the peace, especially if your boating accident injuries leave you in a vulnerable state.

Protecting Your Right to Sue

As mentioned, any delays in getting help could make you look guilty.  If you are injured and do not get medical attention right away, the court might also rule that you contributed to your own injuries by delaying your care.  They may even refuse to believe that the injuries were related to the boating accident if there are no emergency responders who can testify that you got injured in the crash.  Ultimately, this could result in you being unable to claim damages for your injuries.

If you wait too long, it could also look to the court like the injuries and damage from the crash were “not that bad.”  Speaking up quickly and aggressively pursuing a report and an injury claim shows you mean business and that the damages you are claiming are necessary.

How Long Do I Have to File a Boating Accident in Court?

If you are considering filing a boating accident injury case for your Florida boat accident, you will need to follow the statute of limitations.  Most injury cases in Florida are held to a 4-year statute of limitations that gives you quite a long time to file your injury case.  Boating accidents are often handled under maritime law instead of Florida law, which means that you are instead held to a 3-year statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations is the outside legal limit on how long you have to file a case, and boating accident cases should often be filed well before this deadline comes up. Talk to a Miami boat accident lawyer as soon as you can after a boating accident to make sure that all necessary accident reports are filed and to make sure that your case is filed with the courts before your time limit runs out.

Call Our Florida Boating Accident Attorney for a Free Consult

If you received injuries in a boating accident, don’t hesitate to report your accident to the authorities.  After that, call our Tampa boat accident lawyers at Rivkind Margulies & Rivkind for help getting compensation and damages for your maritime injuries.  Call us at (305) 204-5369 right away to get started.


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Brett Rivkind is a lawyer that not only cares but also a lawyer that makes a difference. Whether its speaking in congress to help promote safety awareness in legislation or representing clients in court seeking compensation for their injuries, Brett Rivkind is passionate about his dedication toward both promoting safety at sea and helping clients in need who have been harmed at sea.

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