When Is a Boating Accident Reportable?

While it may be hard to imagine now in the midst of winter, warmer weather is on the way. With the transition into spring, more and more residents will spend time on the water. In fact, some are still using area waterways even now. At all times, it is important to be aware of injury and accident risks that can strike on the water. 

Even though boating accidents are not as frequent as traditional automobile accidents, they do still happen. There are federal and state rules concerning boating safety and the need to file a boating accident report.  

“Boating Accident” Defined

A “boating accident” is defined by state officials as, “an event where there is a death or disappearance of a person, a personal injury, property damage, or total vessel loss resulting from the operation, construction, seaworthiness, equipment, or machinery of the vessel.”  This definition encompasses vessels that are classified as boats, both large and small, from ferries to cruise liners to kayaks.  

Boating Accidents That Are Reportable

It may come as a surprise what types of incidents should be reported. While for some it seems readily apparent that the accident should be reported due to the nature of the accident, some less life-threatening accidents also warrant a report.    

1. An accident is caused by the boat operator: There are many accidents that seem fairly obvious to report. For instance, accidents that result from the actions of the boat operator are reportable and can include collision with another watercraft, stationary object, or submerged object, or accidentally running aground, capsizing, or sinking. Naturally, any byproduct that occurs from the actions of the boat operator is also a reportable accident. Examples of byproducts could be, for example, if a person is ejected from the boat as a result of the boat colliding with an object, if a person is caused to fall inside the boat or overboard, or if a piece of the boat, equipment, or machinery causes injury to a person as a result of an impact. 

2. Accidents involving equipment or machinery onboard: Similarly, accidents that involve boat equipment or machinery are also reportable.  If a person sustains an injury while operating a sail cinch or is struck by the boat’s propeller, propulsion unit, or steering machinery, it is a reportable incident.

In the event that equipment on board the boat is a malfunction and causes injury or death, this too is a reportable accident, regardless of whether the boat is in motion, docked, anchored, or moored. Malfunctioning equipment could cause an onboard fire or explosion. Another example would be if a loose or improperly insulated wire produces a stray current that propagates through any contiguous wet surfaces on the boat deck, thereby electrocuting or shocking any individual that touches the electrified water.  

3. Accidents that occur to people around the boat: Boating accidents can impact people other than just those who are on board. Often, boating accidents involve people who are near or around the boat. For instance, water-skiers are often involved in accidents, as are many other riders of towable devices. A boat can strike a lone swimmer or could hit a wild animal. Accidents of this nature should be reported.

Contacting an Attorney

If you or a loved one have been involved in a boating accident, do not hesitate to contact a lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer from Saavedra Law Firm, PLC, to find out how he or she can help.