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What To Do When Reporting Boat Accidents

Boating can be fun, relaxing, or even exhilarating. However, close attention to boat safety can ensure that this on-the-water experience is not the wrong kind of exhilaration.  If a mishap does occur it is important to know the process of reporting boat accidents. 

An “accident” has a broad definition and could include minor issues such as scraping against a rock, a flat tire on a trailer tire, or a prematurely departing anchor. For reporting boat accidents officially, much more damage should have occurred.  According to the Coast Guard , an issue requiring a boating accident report is reserved for “death, disappearance, or injury requiring medical treatment beyond first aid,” or over $2000 in total damage to property. 

Filing the official form for reporting boat accidents in your state must be done in a timely manner. For example, if it is an injury issue you have 48 hours. If the incident exceeds the proper damage level, the window is 10 days.

Boat insurance statistics indicate that most major accidents involve hitting something with your boat or someone falling overboard. If this happens, you can call 911 but, as member of the Parker Volunteer Fire Department, Paul Murray shared, “it can take a while and phones don’t work well under water.”  

 “The most common boat accident reports that I have known,” Paul  warned,  “are usually fair weather, and people falling overboard into the water or swimming off the boat and not able to either get back to the boat or get back into the boat. I recently added a ladder to my boat so that I can gain access back into the boat and out of the water. A lot of people are under the impression that they can get back into their boat without any aid as a ladder or such. It's not easy. Especially in cold water.”

Basic water safety precautions and rescuing yourself are best first options. Slow down, wear a life jacket, and be aware of any potential boat hazards. Learn about other boat safety considerations such as wearing non-skid shoes, installing extra handholds, and replacing docking lines so that maybe you can avoid having any boating accident to report. To find places to go boating, check our places to go fishing and boating map.

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.