Boating Accidents:

You Are Responsible:

Each year hundreds of people are involved in boating accidents. U.S. Coast Guard reports show that only 5 to 10 percent of non-fatal boating accidents are reported. Recreational boaters need to be educated that any boating accident that involves a fatality, injuries requiring medical treatment beyond first aid or property damage over $500, must be reported to the nearest state boating authority.
It’s the law. (Some states require reports for property damage as low as $100.00. You should contact the local boating authority to determine the property damage requirement for your state.)

With approximately 12,000,000 recreational vessels registered nationwide and with that number continually increasing, it is imperative that boaters obtain and use boating safety information to help curb the number of boating accidents and fatalities.

In 1995 three out of four recreational boating fatalities occurred on boats less than 26 feet in length. More than 77 percent of the victims drowned. (source USCG)

Boat Length No. of Fatalities  No. of Drownings 
Less than 16’ 362 300
16’ to less than 26’ 283 200
26’ to less than 40’ 22 12
40’ and greater 18 7
Unknown 166 134
Total 851 653

Boating Accidents Include:

  • Capsizing
  • Falls Overboard
  • Collisions
  • Fire
  • Sinking/Flooding
  • Explosions
  • Disappearance
You just ran your new boat into a submerged piling and put a hole in the hull. Luckily no one was injured, but you estimate that repairs to the boat will cost about $800.00.

Your boat took on water and flooded overnight. Repairs for the damage cost $350.00.

Must you file an accident report in these scenarios? If you do, do you know how? Would you know where? Would you know on what form?

Reports Must Be Filed Within...

  • 48 hours of the occurrence if a person dies within on day (24 hours of the accident)*
  • 48 hours if a person is injured and medical treatment beyond first aid is required*
  • 10 days if there is only damage to the vessel and/or property*

All serious injuries and loss of life must be reported to the local authorities immediately!

(*Reporting requirements may vary according to state specific law. Be sure to check with your state’s local boating authority)

Who Must Fill Out the Form?

The form is usually filled out by the operator of the boat unless the operator is physically unable to complete the form. If that is the case, then the owner of the vessel must submit the form. If the owner and operator are one in the same and physically unable, a family member or other witness may complete the form.

To obtain the forms and/or to report the accident, call the state where the vessel number was issued, or the state where the casualty or accident occurred, if different.

Why Must A Report Be Filed?

The information you supply is used to develop safety regulations and manufacturing standards for the benefit of the boating public. The information is also used in boating safety education programs and other boating safety initiatives. Without good data, a boating safety hazard might be completely overlooked and other boaters could be hurt or killed.

What If I Witness An Accident?

The master or person in charge of a vessel is obligated by law to render assistance that can be safely provided to any individual in danger at sea. The master or person in charge is subject to a fine and/or imprisonment for failure to do so.

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