On the water, accidents can happen to even cautious, well-trained boaters. If you are involved in a boating accident, it is important to know the requirements for reporting the event to the proper authorities.
After an accident, U.S. federal regulations (33 CFR 173.55) require the operator of any vessel that is numbered or used for recreational purposes (in this case, a boat) to submit an accident report. Individual states may have their own requirements for reporting accidents, but, in general, you must report an accident when:
- 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, or there is a complete loss of the vessel
Who Should Report
The boat operator must submit the report to authorities in the state or U.S. territory where the accident happened. If the operator is unable to do so, then the boat owner must submit the report.
Reports should be made within 48 hours of the accident if a person is killed, injured, or missing. If only the boat or property was damaged, you have up to 10 days to report the accident.
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