Boating accidents are not to be taken lightly. Keep reading for 5 important things you should do if you’re in a boating accident.

A day of fun in the sun and cruising through the waves can sometimes turn serious. No one plans on being in a boating accident, but unfortunately, thousands of vessels experience them each year.

Unlike roadways with access to immediate assistance, being out in the open water can impact the severity of even the smallest accidents.

Boating accidents aren’t to be taken lightly. Keep reading for five important steps to take in the unforeseen event you’re involved in one.

Remain at the Scene

Regardless of how minor an accident may seem, always remain at the scene to assess safety and boating damage. Leaving an accident scene could be considered a hit and run which is as a felony in many states.

The only exception would be if someone requires urgent medical attention. If emergency help isn’t available in time, take all means necessary to transport a victim if your vessel’s still operable.

Contact Emergency Personnel

For accidents at sea, contact the U.S. Coast Guard. They’ll file an official accident report and assist with transporting damaged boats and victims to land. For inland bodies of water, call 911 as most jurisdictions have a marine division within local law enforcement agencies.

Laws no longer require VHF (very high frequency) radios to be carried on a boat, especially with the prevalence of cell phones. It’s still wise, however, to have a communication device handy anytime you’re on the water.

Document the Damage

After everyone’s safe and you’re able to move around your vessel, document the accident scene with pictures. No matter how minimal boating damage may appear to the naked eye it’s crucial to have proof of evidence in case needed later on.

Document damage to all boats involved in the accident, injuries and any other relevant information such as water conditions and surrounding area. If filed, request a copy of the accident report from the Coast Guard or police.

Exchange Information

Before departing the scene exchange contact information with all parties involved in the accident and any witnesses. This should include name, phone, and address in case you need to file any legal or insurance claims.

Additionally, collect vessel information like registration and insurance policy numbers. Unlike cars, most state laws technically don’t require boat insurance, but it’s highly recommended for covering any potential liability or property damage.

Contact an Attorney

Once you’re safe back on land, learn more about your legal options and contact an attorney. Specifically, a legal team with experience in handling boating accidents to take on your case.

Navigating on the water is much different than driving on the road. Boat mishaps can be complicated when determining who’s at fault. Having someone represent you is much wiser than fighting alone.

The Aftermath of a Boating Accident

Above all else, safety is most important. Emotions and tensions will likely run high. While you can always repair a damaged vessel, however, injury can be permanent.

Also be mindful about any statements you make after a boating accident. Never admit fault regardless if you think you’re responsible. It’s likely you won’t have all the facts that could end up validating your innocence.

Check out the rest of our site for other articles about staying safe out on the water!