With Fort Lauderdale so close to the water, many residents regularly partake in boating and watercraft fun. However, with water fun also comes the unfortunate reality of boating accidents. Thousands of boating accidents and injuries are reported in the area each and every year. In the aftermath of an incident on the water, one of the most common questions is: Who is responsible for reporting it?
Unlike car accidents, which are often reported by law enforcement agents who arrive at the scene of the accident, the duty of reporting a boating accident falls on the shoulders of the individual who was operating the boat at the time that it was involved in the accident. In the event that the operator of the boat is incapable of completing or submitting the report, for example, due to injury, then the responsibility falls to the owner of the boat. There are specific guidelines on how the process should unfold.
What To Do and When: General Guidelines after a Florida Boat Accident
Minimum reporting requirements are set out by federal regulation, while states are permitted to impose stricter reporting requirements. What to do in the event of a boating accident largely depends on how serious the accident was, the extent of any damage to the vessel and its equipment, whether another boat or the property of another was involved in the accident, and whether anyone was hurt or killed as a result of the accident.
Federal Requirements for Boating Accident
1. Reports that must be filed within 48 hours of the accident
If severe harm occurs to a person, death results within 24 hours of the accident, or an individual disappears, i.e., went missing under the water during the accident and the individual has not been accounted for, then federal law requires that a report of the accident be filed within 48 hours. If a person is injured only to the extent that first aid measures will suffice, then this reporting timeline requirement does not apply.
2. All other situations
In situations where damage to the vessel totals more than $2,000, or in the event that a person ultimately dies as a result of the accident, but the death occurs more than 24 hours after the accident occurs, then the timeline for filing a report is extended to 10 days.
Florida’ Specific Requirements for Boating Accident
Florida has adopted similar standards for reporting boating accidents. The state requires vessel operators to report an accident by the quickest means possible when it involves death or disappearance, injury requiring medical care beyond first aid, or property damage over $2,000. Reports must be made to the county sheriff, local police departments, or the Division of Law Enforcement, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation.
Federal regulations provide that all boating accident reports are forwarded by the state to the United States Coast Guard within 30 days of receipt.
As soon as feasibly possible after a boating accident, the boat operator or owner should additionally file an insurance claim, as a accident report is not a substitute for an insurance claim.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Boating Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been involved in a boating accident, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Cohn & Smith today to see how we can help.