Nobody ever expects to find themselves involved in a boating accident. Unfortunately, they do happen. And if you’re ever involved in a boat crash, it’s important that you know what to do. Acting quickly could mean the difference between minor injuries and serious, catastrophic consequences.
6 Boating Accident Response Tips
Boating accidents aren’t exactly commonplace, but they aren’t rare either. Over 5,000 boating accidents occur in the United States each year, which averages about 100 per week. Some of these accidents are minor, while others are serious and even fatal.
The most common causes of boating accidents are operator inattention (being distracted), improper lookout (not having anyone watching for other boats’ obstacles in the water), and operator inexperience. Other causes include excessive speed, alcohol use, machinery failure, and weather/hazardous waters.
If you find yourself involved in a boating accident, there are several things you should do:
1. Assist With Injuries
There’s only one thing that matters in the aftermath of a boating accident, and that’s everyone’s health and well-being. This is not the time to yell, scream, or get emotional. It’s time to dive into action – perhaps quite literally.
Start by checking yourself over for injuries. It’s possible that the adrenaline from the incident is masking the pain. A quick physical check should be performed.
Once you’ve checked yourself, it’s time to begin assisting others. Begin by counting the individuals on board. If anyone is missing, immediately scan the water for signs of people or movement. Bringing injured victims aboard is the ultimate priority.
If you have a first-aid kit on board, give attention to the most pressing medical needs first. (Performing CPR and/or stopping bleeding are the priorities.)
2. Call the Proper Medical Professionals
Grab a cell phone or radio on board and immediately call for medical assistance if there are serious injuries. It’s imperative that you do this as soon as possible, as it could take a while for help to arrive. If you don’t have any means of communication, look onboard for flares, lights, or other tools that you can use to draw attention to other boaters on the water.
3. Gather Information
If the boating accident occurred with another boat, you’ll want to gather the proper information. This includes the boat’s Vessel Identification Number (VIN), boater registration information, and the information of driver. You’ll need this information for insurance and/or legal purposes. The driver of the other boat will likely request your information as well.
4. Report the Accident
Once everyone is in stable condition, you’ll want to report the boating accident to the proper authorities and have an official accident report filed. This is extremely important for insurance and legal purposes. If you try to bring an injury claim later, it’s much more difficult to do so without an accident report.
5. Hire a Boating Accident Attorney
Don’t try to navigate the aftermath of a boating accident on your own – especially if you think there may be legal issues involved.
“International, state, and federal maritime laws may come into play in boating accidents,” Matthews Injury Law explains. “Because of this, claims seeking compensation from at-fault parties could be complex.”
Hire a boating attorney to help you file all of the proper forms, build a case, and pursue legal action or claims (if necessary). These attorneys typically work on a contingency-fee-basis, which means you won’t owe them anything unless there’s a successful verdict and payout.
6. Be Patient
It can take months for a boating accident case with injuries to reach a conclusion. There are legal steps that must be followed, forms and procedures to work through, negotiations to be made, etc. Don’t get frustrated if the process drags on.
As you wait for the case to be resolved, do your best to avoid talking about it with anyone but your attorney. This means no gossiping with friends or posting on social media. Doing so will only jeopardize your case.
Do You Have a Plan?
Hopefully, you’ll never be involved in a boating accident. However, it’s always wise to be prepared for situations like this so that you know what to do in the heat of the moment. Use the tips in this article to formulate your own response plan!