Who Do You Report a Boating Accident to in Florida?

If you’re involved in a boating accident in Florida, it’s essential to know who to report it to, when you are required to report the accident, and what steps to take after a boating collision. 

Generally, boat operators involved in a qualifying crash must report the accident to at least one of the following agencies: 

  • Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission – Law Enforcement Division 
  • The Local sheriff’s office where the accident occurred
  • The local police department where the accident occurred

Neglecting to file a timely boating accident report to one of the three agencies mentioned above can result in criminal charges and a significantly weaker personal injury case (if applicable). 

At Schrier Law Group, we have intimate knowledge of Florida’s boating and personal injury laws. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of a boat operator, we can help. Contact us today for a free case evaluation with an experienced boating accident lawyer. 

Continue reading to learn more about what to do after a boat collision in Florida waterways. 

When Should A Boating Accident Be Reported in Florida?

According to Florida Statute § 327.301, boat operators are required to file a written report with an applicable agency if a boat collision results in: 

  • Serious bodily injury to passengers or operators 
  • Death 
  • Missing person 
  • Property damage of $2,000 or more 

It’s important to note that the $2,000 threshold applies to the vessel, other vessels, and property damaged within the boat due to the accident. Generally, you must file a boating accident report within 24 – 48 hours. That’s true regardless of where the boating accident occurs. 

Types of Boating Accidents That Require Reporting 

For the most part, any boating accident that involves property damage above $2,000, death, serious injury, or a missing person must be reported regardless of the type of accident. That includes the following types of boating accidents but is not limited to: 

  • Multi-vessel collisions
  • Single-vessel collisions 
  • Instances where a boat capsizes or sinks 
  • Boating accidents caused by water debris, rough water, or inclement weather 
  • Collisions caused by reckless boating 
  • Accidents resulting from running aground or striking fixed objects in the water 
  • Accidents that happen when entering or exiting the water 

What Is The First Thing To Do When Involved in a Boating Accident? 

If you’re involved in an accident on the water, there are a few steps you are required to take and a few others you should take. They include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Immediately notify applicable law enforcement agencies 
  • Seek medical attention 
  • Provide emergency care if needed 
  • Exchange information with others involved in the collision 
  • Stay at the scene until you’ve met your boating accident obligations 
  • Collect evidence from the scene (i.e., pictures, videos, etc.) 
  • Identify eyewitnesses and obtain their information 
  • Contact your boating insurance company
  • Consult with a Florida boating accident lawyer as soon as possible 

In addition, when filing a boating report, it’s essential to stick to the facts of the case. That means never admitting fault in the report. 

Further, stay away from posting about the accident on social media or speaking about it with others. Anything you say, do, or post about the accident can be used against you when attempting to recover damages for personal injuries. 

What Damages Can You Recover After a Boating Accident?

Every boating accident case is different. However, depending on the circumstances, boating accident victims may be eligible to recover maximum compensation for the following losses, but not limited to: 

  • Property damage to your vessel or personal property 
  • Urgent medical attention 
  • Transportation to the hospital 
  • Hospitalization and rehabilitation 
  • Current and future lost wages
  • Decreased earning power
  • Pain and suffering 

Additionally, suppose the boating collision causes death due to negligence or recklessness. In that case, your family may be able to file a wrongful death claim to recoup damages for loss of companionship, financial support, and more (in addition to the damages listed above). 

Contact A Boating Accident Lawyer in Florida Today

Identifying liability in water vessel collisions typically requires the knowledge and experience of an experienced boating accident lawyer. Boat accidents can be especially tricky in Florida since many don’t have insurance or are severely underinsured. However, regardless of the circumstances, there may be an opportunity to recover damages for your losses. 

Our boat accident attorneys at Schrier Law Group have an in-depth understanding of Florida’s maritime, boating, and personal injury laws. We’ve helped recover millions in personal injury cases, and are confident we can obtain the best possible outcome in your case. 

Contact a boating accident lawyer at Schrier Law Group today to schedule your free case evaluation. 

HOW YOU CAN PREVENT A BOATING ACCIDENT FROM HAPPENING ON FLORIDA WATERS

Boating is a favorite pastime of many Floridians. While taking a trip out on the boat with friends and family can make for a great getaway, there are still many risks involved in traveling the open sea. 

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), approximately 836 boating accidents happened in Florida in 2020. Nearly half of the recorded boating accidents were due to the “operator’s inattention or failing to maintain a proper lookout.” 

With that in mind, boaters need to be mindful of safe boating practices. Otherwise, you risk serious property damages, injuries, and potentially death. If you’ve been the victim of a boating accident in Florida, contact The Schrier Law Group today to discuss your case with a proven boating accident lawyer. 

Continue reading to learn how you can prevent boating accidents from occurring on Florida waters

Choose a Responsible Driver

The first step in ensuring a safe boat trip is to ensure that the boating operator is responsible. That means that the motorboat operator should:

  • Be completely sober 
  • Complete the boater safety course and have an FWC identification card (if born after January 1, 1988)
  • Know how to operate the boat and what to do in case of an emergency
  • Take responsibility for the lives they are taking care of while operating the boat 
  • Understand all boating and water navigation laws 

Choosing a responsible boat operator can help you avoid boating accidents caused by carelessness and inattention.  Further, they will know what to do in case of an emergency. Taking a boat trip with an operator you can’t trust is a recipe for disaster. 

Know Where You’re Going 

The ocean seems like an endless abyss of places to navigate. However, there are some places where you absolutely should not take your boat. They can include shallow water, restricted areas, and places with rougher waters. Further, boat operators should understand how to read the navigation aids on the water (i.e., buoys and beacons) as they tell where to navigate and where to avoid. 

Additionally, safely navigating a boat at night requires skill, experience, and knowledge of Florida’s boat navigation rules. Neglecting to adhere to navigational regulations at night can result in major collisions with other vessels or landmasses. 

Have the Proper Safety Equipment on Board

Having the appropriate safety gear aboard your vessel can help you avoid accidents, warn other boats of your presence, and potentially save you and your fellow boaters in case of a collision. Generally, a few “must-have” types of boating safety equipment includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Life jackets and other types of personal flotation devices
  • At least one Type IV flotation device (i.e., ring buoy, floating cushion, etc.)
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Visual signaling devices (i.e., smoke flares and light flares)
  • Sound signaling devices (i.e., horns, whistles, and bells)
  • First-aid kits 
  • Devices to help dewater the boat in case of flooding 
  • Oars and paddles in case the engine fails 

Check The Weather Forecast Before Boating 

Before you and your friends head out on the sea, you should check the weather forecast. In most cases, you’ll want to avoid inclement weather conditions like high winds, storms, rain, hurricanes, and more. Generally, you can tune into VHF-FM with a portable radio. That way, you can stay up to date on the latest weather information provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

You can find the NOAA weather updates on the following frequencies: 

  • 162.550 MHz
  • 162.400 MHz
  • 162.475 MHz

Additionally, you should always notice visual signs of weather changes such as darker skies, approaching fog, nearby lightning strikes, and more. You can also use a barometer to gauge the potential for bad weather conditions. Lastly, take pointers from other boaters on the water if all else fails. If you notice that most boaters are heading to dock at the same time, it’s likely that foul weather conditions are on the horizon, and you should do the same. 

Contact a Boating Accident Lawyer Today

Even if you follow all of the boating safety suggestions listed above, there is still a chance for an accident caused by another boat operator. With that in mind, if you’ve suffered serious injuries due to the recklessness of another boater, you deserve maximum compensation. Don’t wait until it’s too late to pursue your boat accident personal injury claim. 

Contact the best boating accident lawyer in Florida at Schrier Law Group today at 1-800-700-7285 for a free consultation.