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6 Things to Do If You’re In a Boating Accident

Although spending a beautiful day at sea sounds like an amazing idea, there are times when things don’t go the way we expect. Did you know that in 2021 there were 751 reportable boating accidents in Florida?

Here our boat damage lawyers explain what to do if you’re involved in a boating accident.

How Is a Boating Accident Defined?

A boat accident is a collision, or casualty involving a vessel in or upon, or entering into or exiting from, the water. This can include capsizing, collision with another vessel or object, sinking, personal injury, death, or disappearance of any person from onboard under circumstances that indicate the possibility of death or injury, or property damage to any vessel or dock.

Some of the factors that contribute to the occurrence of a boat accident are traveling too fast for water or weather conditions, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, failing to follow boating rules and regulations, carelessness, and inexperience.


Before we take a look at the steps you need to follow when you are involved in an accident, it’s important to mention some tips on how to be safe and prevent a boating accident.

  • Make sure your vessel is equipped with the required lights, whistle, horn, or even a bell.
  • It is important to have onboard plenty of life jackets and emergency safety devices. If you are very cautious you might also consider bringing spare parts and a tool kit. 
  • Before sailing, be sure to check the weather forecast one more time. Tell at least one person of your plans and where you will go. The operator should check the engine, fuel, electrical and steering systems.
  • If you have passengers be sure to supervise the moment they’re loading. It is important to distribute the load evenly and not overload.
  • Be aware of marine traffic laws, and learn distress and boating signals.
  • If you find yourself in shallow waters, keep an eye out for other watercraft, swimmers, or floating debris.
  • Finally, do not operate a boat if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What to Do If You’re in a Boat Accident

Safety first. It is important to make sure all passengers are safe and determine if someone needs medical assistance. If there’s anyone who has fallen overboard it is crucial to help them get back on board as soon as possible. On this step, an emergency first aid kit might come in handy.

Analyze the actual situation. Asses whether the boat is still intact and afloat and what is the damage overall. The boat operator will be the person who decides if you need to move to a safer place or wait for support.

Get help! Notify the local authorities about the boat accident. It is important to stay calm while speaking to the authorities so they can get the information needed to assist.

boat safety concept, life vest and life belt on wooden wall

Steps to Take After the Accident

Here is what you should do after the immediate danger is over.

Get Medical Care

Even if you’re not sure whether or not you’re injured, it’s always a good idea to call your medical provider. Even if it seems like a minor hit to the head, it could be something bigger internally. Don’t be afraid to tell them what happened, and get yourself checked out.

Report the Accident

Federal Law requires that the operator or owner of a recreational vessel file a boating accident report with the State reporting authority if the recreational vessel is involved in an accident that results in any of the following:

  • A person dies.
  • A person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid.
  • A person disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury.
  • Damage to vessels and other property totals $2,000 (lower amounts in some states and territories).
  • The boat is destroyed.

Contact Your Insurance Agent

Normally boat insurance policies cover physical damage to the boat itself. Additionally, they cover property damage, theft, and medical payments, each with different deductibles. Your insurer may offer additional, optional coverage for trailers and boat accessories.

If you are a boat owner, ensure that you follow the right steps when filing for your boat insurance and that you know what is covered in your policy. Most insurance policies should provide coverage for physical damage, liability insurance, medical payments, and uninsured boaters.

However, keep in mind that there are some common boat insurance exclusions such as damage caused by animals, damage outside a certain area, mold, defective equipment, or wear and tear.

Speak to the Experts

Without a doubt, boating accidents can be disastrous. However, by taking the proper precautions and preparing yourself to react appropriately in the event of an accident, you can greatly increase your chances of making it home safely after your day on the water.

If you’re experiencing difficulty filing a claim after a boating accident, consulting a property damage lawyer might work to your advantage. Here at Klotzman Property Damage Law, we advocate for fair compensation so you can properly restore and repair any damage.

Schedule your free case review today with our Florida property damage attorneys. When insurance companies fail, Klotzman Property Damage Law succeeds.

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