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. 

Schrier Law Group Boating Accident FAQs

Damaged Jet Ski on Water After Accident

A boating accident is actually handled quite differently than an accident on the highway or a typical street or avenue. We here at Schrier Law Group want to go over the best procedure for what one should do if they are ever in a boating accident. As a Florida law firm, we see our share of boating accidents.

1. What Do I Do First After a Boating Accident?

If you have had a boating accident, you must first take care of the health and safety of those involved. Ensure everyone is safely on the boat if it is still afloat, or another safe place if it is not, and the boat is out of harm’s way. Then you should signal for help, if necessary, and seek medical attention for any injuries. A medical report will also be important evidence in any legal action.

You are going to need to gather details at the scene of the accident. Obtain registration numbers and insurance details for those involved, and contact details for the boat operators, passengers, and witnesses. If possible, take photos and video of the scene.

Then you have to report the boating accident to the U.S. Coast Guard and the State Fish & Wildlife Police. An accident report will be evidence for any action and is usually required by law.

Contact your insurance provider and an experienced boating accident attorney like Schrier Law Group. Do not accept liability or discuss the accident with the other parties or insurers before speaking to your lawyer.

 

2. What is Required of the Operator in a Boating Accident?

An operator involved in a boating accident must stop the vessel at the scene of the accident and offer assistance to anyone injured or in danger unless doing so would seriously endanger their own vessel or passengers. The operator is also required to notify the U.S. Coast Guard and the State Fish & Wildlife Police in accordance with state and federal laws.

 

3. What Types of Boating Accidents Need to Be Reported?

Federal law requires that a boating accident must be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard and State Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police if:

  • A person dies
  • A person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first-aid
  • A person disappears from the boat under circumstances that indicate death or injury
  • Damage to the boat and other property totals more than $2,000 by federal law or there is a complete loss of the vessel

 

4. How Soon Should the Accident Be Reported?

A boating accident must be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard within 10 days of the accident or death, or within 48 hours if a person:

  • Dies within 24 hours
  • Is injured requiring medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury

5. Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Boating Accidents?

Homeowners’ insurance typically provides minimal coverage for a boating accident. Most policies will cover up to $1,000 damages to a boat, jet skis, or another recreational water vehicle, and generally cover damage by fire, wind or air, explosive hail, and vandalism.

6. How Common are Boating Accident Fatalities?

In 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard counted 4,168 recreational boating accidents in the U.S. that involved 613 deaths and 2,559 injuries. The fatality rate was 5.2 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. Detailed statistics are available at the U.S. Coast Guard website.

 

7. What are the Most Common Watercraft in Boating Accidents?

The top three types of watercraft involved in boating accidents in the U.S. according to 2019 statistics compiled by the U.S. Coast Guard, were open motorboats, personal watercraft, and cabin motorboats.

 

8. What are the Most Common Injuries Suffered in Boating Accidents?

The most common injuries suffered in boating accidents are:

  • Drowning
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Lacerations and amputations
  • Whiplash
  • Electrocution
  • Concussions
  • Burns
  • Broken bones

9. What Safety Measures Prevent Wrongful Death and Injuries Caused By a Boating Accident?

  • Do not drink and boat – Boating while intoxicated is the leading cause of boating accidents in the U.S.
  • Wear a lifejacketAll boat operators and passengers should wear a properly fitting USCG-approved lifejacket. The law requires that they are accessible for all passengers, and worn at all times by children.
  • Know the rules – Boating operators should take a boating safety course before getting out on the water, and follow the rules at all times. Inexperienced and inattentive boat operators cause accidents.
  • Stay within speed limitsSpeeding is a primary contributing factor in boating accidents nationwide.
  • Practice boat propeller safetyBoat propellers can cause catastrophic injuries. Operators and passengers should be safe, and a propeller guard should be used if appropriate for the vessel.
  • Watch the weatherAlways check the weather forecast before getting out on the water. Weather can be unpredictable in all seasons and can create a very dangerous situation for watercraft.

10. What are the Most Common Causes For Boating Accidents?

The top five primary contributing factors in boating accidents in the U.S. in 2019 according to the U.S. Coast Guard were:

  • Operator inattention
  • Improper lookout
  • Operator inexperience
  • Excessive speed
  • Alcohol use

Much of this information is available at the U.S. Coast Guard website.

The Schrier Law Group handles many boating accident cases, and Schrier Law has the resources necessary to help you and your family score a successful outcome in any boating injury case. It is important that you have your rights defended by someone who knows the law. Contact the Schrier Law Group for a personal injury attorney in Florida today!

“Ethan’s Law” Named for Sarasota Boy Killed in Boating Accident

Ethan Isaacs Next to Water

In November, a tragic situation occurred when a Sarasota, Florida youth sailor was fatally slashed by a spinning boat propeller after his coach triggered the throttle and the boy tumbled overboard.

Ten-year-old Ethan Isaacs’ death has led to a wrongful death lawsuit by his family and a proposed bill in his name called “Ethan’s Law,” authored by Sarasota state Rep. Fiona McFarland.

The proposed legislation would require the pilots of boats less than 26 feet long to wear a kill switch device that automatically shuts off the engine if the operator is thrown overboard. Seven other states have similar laws in place, and the U.S. Coast Guard will adopt the same rule in 2021. It is wrongful death boating accidents just like this one that Schrier Law Group takes on.

Who Was Ethan, and What Happened

Ethan, a sixth-grader at Pine View School for the Gifted in Osprey, was taking part in a Sarasota Youth Sailing Inc. sail practice when his boat capsized. His coach, 18-year-old Riley Baugh, came to his aid in a 20-foot Caribe Nautica inflatable powerboat.

Baugh was bailing water out of Ethan’s boat when he accidentally struck the throttle, causing the boat to lurch forward and throw him overboard. The steel propeller fatally wounded Ethan and hurt two other youth sailors.

McFarland was approached by Ethan’s parents shortly after his death and together they created the bill to address boating safety issues that could prevent future tragedies from occurring.

What Does the Bill Entail

Rep. McFarland has received wide support for the bill. She worked with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, boat owners associations, boat manufacturers, and other marine safety stakeholders to craft the bill’s language.

 

“Whenever there’s a tragedy, particularly when a young child dies, you always wonder what could have been done to prevent it from happening,” McFarland said. “I’m honored to be working with the Issacs family to make the Florida waterways safer.”

Florida regularly ranks as the number one state for boating accidents and fatalities, according to recent government reports. There have been 95 formal reports of accidents involving a boat operator falling overboard, 79 that resulted in someone injured or killed, according to McFarland.

The legislation would allow the FWC and law enforcement officers on waterways to enforce the same rules that the Coast Guard follows at the federal level: ensuring boaters are wearing their engine cutoff switch lanyard or have an operational wireless kill switch.

Boat manufacturers have been federally required to equip new vessels with an engine cutoff switch since 2018.

The Lawsuit

A little over a month after Ethan’s death in November, Tampa-based personal injury attorneys filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of the Isaacs.

The 22-page complaint filed in Sarasota County circuit court blames SYS and Baugh for negligence, poor training, and a lack of supervision that ultimately cost Ethan his life.

Baugh is believed to be the only coach in charge of the Optimist Green Fleet that Ethan was a member of along with 15 other youth sailors.

According to the suit, Ethan was training with the Green Fleet, a collection of youth sailors who met prerequisites set by SYS to sail Optimist sailing vessels on open water. The Optimist, also called an opti, is a small, single-handed sailing dinghy about the size of a bathtub.

They launched in choppy but navigable waters under the supervision of Baugh, who was certified as a Small Boat Instructor Level 2 by U.S. Sailing in January 2020. He holds CPR and First Aid certifications. Baugh also has a ‘‘SafeSport certification’ to promote a safe and positive environment free from abuse and misconduct.

The complaint said Baugh’s boat was equipped with a fully operational emergency outboard engine stop switch, stop-switch key, and accompanying lanyard. The kill-switch key allows electricity to flow to the engine while the key is secured.

After Baugh became aware that a child’s boat was taking on water, he piloted his powerboat alongside. He left the controls of his vessel and leaned over the side of the boat to bail water out of the Optimist dinghy. However, Baugh had not turned the engine off and, while he bailed water, he unintentionally struck the throttle and the boat moved forward, causing him to fall out.

The unmanned boat struck multiple youth members of the green fleet, including Ethan, who was fatally injured. Baugh was able to regain control of the boat.

The wrongful death action is seeking in excess of $30,000 on behalf of Ethan’s estate. Beneficiaries of the monetary claim are his mother and father. Ethan also has an older brother who was sailing nearby at the time of the accident.

Boating accident death cases can be emotional, tragic, and unfair. When emotions run high, it can be difficult to make a strategic decision when choosing the perfect personal injury lawyer. In order to be prepared, develop a list of trustworthy attorneys that you can call when an emergency occurs.

The Schrier Law Group handles many boating injury cases, and Schrier Law has the resources necessary to help you and your family score a successful outcome in any boating injury case. It is important that you have your rights defended by someone who knows the law. Contact the Schrier Law Group for a personal injury attorney in Florida today!

Boating Accidents can Go Very Bad, Very Fast

One of the scariest situations you can be in is a boating accident. When you’re on a boat and you collide into another object, momentum keeps working for everything besides the boat. Many people are cast off the side without any notice or chance to secure themselves on the boat. If you’re prepared for an accident, it can not only save someone’s life, but help you with legal actions in the future. There are multiple reasons for boat accidents and many of them trace back to the negligence of someone.

Boating accidents can be terrifying events. If you or a loved one have been involved in a boating accident, the contact a personal injury attorney at the Schrier Law Group.

What Are the Primary Causes of Boat Accidents?

Many different variables could be underlying reasons for a boating accident. Although many seem different, most lead back to negligence. Here are a few different examples of things that cause boating accidents

Intoxication – Unfortunately, many people drink heavily on boats and endanger all the fellow sailors around them. Many boating accidents can be traced back to someone being negligent and steering the ship while intoxicated.

Carelessness / Lack of Attention  – There are many distractions when steering a boat just like driving a car. However, it is your responsibility as the captain of the vessel to steer the ship in the safest manner for your passengers and the other boaters.

Improper Handling / Procedure  – If the captain of the ship is navigating in a very bad manner, then accidents may occur. Speeding to high degrees can lead to passengers being projected off of the ship. Not to tell if there was a collision at such a high speed.

Weather – Occasionally, you’ll run into dangerous weather that causes rough waves and torrent winds. These situations are sometimes unpredictable and can have you stranded in very dangerous areas.

If you or a loved one have been in a boating accident, contact the Schrier Law Group to get the compensation you deserve!