In Florida, a written boating accident report is required when a boating accident results in injuries or fatalities or when a person disappears.
Statute 327.301 also requires a written boating accident report for over $2,000 in property damage.
If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by a boater’s negligence, one of the things an experienced boating accident lawyer will look for when helping you seek compensation is whether the operator of the vessel filed a written boating accident report.
What Is the Definition of a Boating Accident in Florida?
A boating accident in Florida is defined as any type of collision or accident involving injuries or deaths to passengers or other people in the water or damage to the vessel.
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What Is a Written Boating Accident Report?
Both federal and state laws required the reporting of boating accidents in certain circumstances. A written boating accident report is a required notification to law enforcement agencies, including the Division of Law Enforcement, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the local county sheriff’s department, or local municipal police department when an accident has occurred.
Any of the above-mentioned agencies can accept the written report, and Florida’s laws require reporters to use the quickest method possible.
What Are the Federal and State Laws Pertaining to Reporting a Boating Accident?
In the event of a boating accident, federal law requires boat operators to file an accident report in their state. Florida law dictates that boating accidents resulting in injuries, death or property damage over $2,000 must be reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) within 48 hours of the accident.
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When Must a Boating Accident Report Be Filed?
There are five certain circumstances when a written boating accident report must be filed in Florida:
- Someone died as a result of the accident.
- Someone disappeared in the water during the accident.
- Someone suffered a bodily injury serious enough to require immediate medical attention.
- There was at least $2,000 damage to structures or personal property.
- At least one boat sustained at least $2,000 in damage.
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What Sort of Information Must Be Included in the Written Boating Accident Report?
The information provided in a Florida written boating accident report includes:
- Informing whether there was death, serious bodily injury, or damages to boats, structures, or property over $2,000
- The full name, address, and phone number of the reporting party
- An accident summary including date, time, location, and details of who was involved, injured, and what damages were sustained
- The identification information of the boat involved, including make, model, year, hull identification number, the type of engine, the safety features included on the vessel, the number of life jackets and fire extinguishers onboard
- External conditions, including water conditions and weather
- Contributing factors to the accident that were present on your boat
- The contact information of all witnesses to the accident
Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Boating Accident Report?
Federal law requires that boating accident reports be made within 48 hours after the accident if there is a death, bodily injury, or someone goes missing in the water. A report must be made within ten days when there has been an accident involving damages to boats, structures, or personal property that is at least $2,000.
Where Should a Boating Accident in Florida Be Reported?
A boating accident in Florida should be reported to the FWC by phone at 1-888-404-3922 or by mail to 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600
What Types of Accidents Could Create the Need for a Report?
A boating accident that could necessitate filing a written boating accident report includes any type of accident involving at least one boat in or while entering or exiting the water. The accident could also involve factors such as:
- A collision with another boat, either occupied or unoccupied
- The vessel colliding with a structure
- A vessel that has capsized
- Accidents involving injuries to riders of jet skis, water skiers, or swimmers.
Your Rights if Injured in a Florida Boating Accident
You have certain rights if you are injured in a boating accident in Florida. One is that you can file a boating accident claim to recover damages. To do this, you should locate the appropriate forms for filing and understand what damages are available to you in your claim.
Where Can You Find the Right Form for Filing a Florida Boating Accident Report?
If you need to file a boating accident report in Florida, you can find the appropriate form online on local police department websites. You can also check with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
What Damages Might Be Available After a Florida Boating Accident?
If you have suffered injuries in a boating accident in Florida and file a claim against the at-fault party or parties, you can claim compensation for your damages. Those damages may include medical expenses, ongoing medical treatment, lost wages, lost earning capacity, property damage, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
How Liability for a Florida Boating Accident Is Determined
Different factors are involved in determining liability for a Florida boating accident. Negligence or recklessness is the basis for a lawsuit when a person suffers injuries or death and property damage has occurred in such an accident. Boat operators are required to uphold their duty of care to ensure that accidents don’t happen and people don’t suffer injuries or other damages. If they breach that duty and people experience injuries, death or property damage, they can be held liable.
What Are the Consequences of Not Filing a Florida Boating Accident Report?
If someone gets into a boating accident in Florida and fails to report it, they can face certain penalties. These include legal penalties due to violations and non-compliance with reporting requirements.
Understanding Penalties for Violations and Non-Compliance with Reporting Requirements
Anyone who has a boating accident in Florida and fails to file a report about it can face penalties such as fines and imprisonment. A report must be filed within 48 hours of an accident to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
What Are Some Potential Causes of Boating Accidents?
Various factors can lead to a boating accident. Some potential causes of such an event include operator inattention, excessive speed and alcohol or drug impairment.
Boats controlled by operators who are inattentive have a much greater risk of getting into accidents. Accidents stemming from boater inattention occur because the operator lacks sufficient control to safely operate the vessel.
A boating accident can happen due to excessive speed because it makes the boat’s course more erratic and prevents the operator from regaining control of the boat’s motions. They may not be able to steer safely or slow down or stop when necessary.
Alcohol or Drug Impairment
When a boat operator is impaired by alcohol or drugs, it can significantly raise the risks of a boating accident. This is no different than drinking or consuming drugs and getting behind the wheel of a car.
Different Types of Common Boating Accidents
Certain types of boating accidents are especially common in Florida. Those include collisions with other vessels, collisions with stationary objects, capsizing, sinking, falling overboard, departed vessel, grounding accidents and watersport accidents.
Accidents Involving Other Vessels
Accidents involving other vessels rank as a top cause of boating accidents. They can result in injuries and even death to those onboard depending on the level of impact and the damage sustained.
Collisions with Stationary Objects
A boating accident can occur when a boat collides with stationary objects as well. Depending on its size and weight, this can have devastating effects. The boat can be damaged and fill with water and sink and people can sustain injuries or die.
Capsizing occurs when a boat suffers damage that leads to a hole. This can lead to water getting into the vessel, which can lead to capsizing or tipping over. It’s also one of the most common types of boating accidents in Florida. It’s a dangerous situation that can cause injuries or death, especially those caused by drowning.
Boating accidents resulting in sinking sometimes happen when the boat carries excessive weight or when it suffers damage like a hole and fills up with water. This is often a deadly situation that can lead to drowning.
When a passenger onboard a boat falls overboard, it can cause a boating accident, serious injuries and even fatalities. The impact from a boating accident can also lead to passengers falling overboard.
Departed vessel refers to a passenger onboard a boat suddenly jumping into the water. This is a type of boating accident that can leave a person catastrophically injured or even dead if the boat suddenly changes direction.
A grounding accident is characterized by a boat making contact with something soft or hard while on the water. A soft grounding usually doesn’t cause much damage, but a hard grounding can severely damage a boat and potentially capsize or sink it. This happens when a boating accident occurs after the vessel strikes rocks or a reef.
Many people enjoy participating in watersport activities. Unfortunately, some boating accidents occur when a boat collides with a person engaged in watersports such as waterskiing or other recreational activities. Often, when this happens, the victim is left with severe injuries or is killed.
What Steps Should You Take After a Boating Accident?
Immediately after a boating accident, it’s important to take certain steps. They include ensuring safety and calling for help, moving to a safe location, reporting the accident, documenting the scene, exchanging information, seeking medical attention, notifying your insurance company, taking legal action, getting a boat inspection and repairs, cooperating with investigations, reporting to boating authorities and reviewing safety measures.
Ensuring Safety and Calling for Help
First and foremost, make sure everyone is safe after a boating accident. If anyone is injured, administer aid but call for help so the proper authorities can take over.
Moving to a Safe Location
If your boat can be moved, maneuver to a safe location where you’re out of further danger. If it’s not possible to move the vessel, get out of the boat and the water and get to a safe spot.
Reporting the Accident
You must report all boating accidents within 48 hours. Failing to do so can result in serious penalties if anyone has been injured or died or if more than $2,000 in property damage has occurred.
Documenting the Scene
Just like a car accident, you should document the scene of a boating accident. This includes taking notes of the events while they’re still fresh in your mind, snapping photos and finding witnesses who saw the accident as it happened.
If the accident involved another vessel, you will want to exchange information with the other boat operator. This should include names, phone numbers, email addresses, insurance information and anything else that’s relevant. Avoid making conversation and just keep things succinct and to the point.
Seeking Medical Attention
Seeking medical attention is crucial even if you feel fine after the accident. Some injuries lie dormant for a period of time until you begin to feel symptoms. It’s better to be safe than sorry, plus, you can have evidence in the form of your medical expenses if you decide to file a lawsuit against the boat operator or other liable party.
Notifying the Insurance Company
It’s crucial to notify your insurance company of the boating accident as soon as possible. This helps if you have to file a claim for damages. Taking too long to notify your insurer increases the chances that your claim ends up rejected, stressing the urgency to do so.
Taking Legal Steps
If someone else is at fault for a boating accident that left you injured or a loved one tragically killed, you should immediately speak with an attorney. They can advise you on the best way to proceed and how to file your lawsuit.
Get an Inspection and Repairs
The next thing to do after a boating accident is to get a boat inspection and repairs if your boat was not totaled. It may be able to be salvaged and brought back to like-new condition. An inspection can determine whether it can be taken out on the water again after the accident.
Importance of Cooperating with Investigations
While investigations of the boating accident are ongoing, your cooperation can only help the situation. Being difficult and impeding things can only reflect negatively on you and lead to negative consequences.
File a Report with Boating Authorities
You have within 48 hours of a boating accident to file a boating accident report. This can be done with the local police department in the municipality where it occurred or with the FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement.
Importance of Reviewing Safety Measures
Regardless of the cause of a boating accident, it’s wise to review safety measures after such a situation occurs. This is so that you can stay fresh and apprised of all the potential causes of accidents and what you can do to avoid them. You can also learn a few things by periodically reviewing boating safety measures.
Do I Have to File a Boating Accident Report in Order to Seek Compensation for My Injuries?
If you are the operator of a boat that has been involved in an accident, and the accident resulted in injuries, you must file a boating report. However, filing the report has nothing to do with who was liable for the injuries you suffered. It is simply the required notification of the accident to the appropriate law enforcement agency, which will begin that agency’s investigation into how the accident occurred.
The details of the law enforcement’s investigation will become part of the police report of the accident. This police report will then be made available to requesting parties and the details of the report can be used as evidence in a civil claim for compensation.
Why Does My Attorney Need to Know If a Written Boating Accident Report Was Filed?
If you were the reporting party, the written boating accident report that you submitted will help to establish the facts of the accident and further show that you were following reporting regulations. Likewise, whether a negligent boat operator filed the written report as required can help establish evidence as to their behavior around the time of the accident and their attitude toward the duty to follow boating laws in order to protect the safety of others.
In order to show who was liable (legally responsible) for the expenses and impacts you incurred as a result of the boating accident, you and your attorney must be able to show the following elements in your claim:
- The boat operator owed you a duty of care to behave in a manner that would protect your safety and the safety of your property.
- There was a breach in this duty caused by the boat operator’s failure to take reasonable care.
- This breach caused the boating accident in which you were injured.
If There Are Two Boats Involved in the Accident, Do Both Operators Have to File a Report?
Yes. Every boat operator who is involved in an accident must file a report within either two or ten days, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
What If the Boat Operator Involved in the Accident Fled the Scene?
If the boat operator fled the scene, the accident still must be reported to law enforcement, along with contact information for any witnesses and any description of the vessel or the operator that can assist them in determining the identity of the boat operator.
How Can Andrew Pickett Law Help Me with My Boating Accident Claim?
The experienced legal team at Andrew Pickett Law can provide a number of legal services to assist you with your Florida boating accident claim, including helping you to file your written boating accident report if you have not yet done so. Other services include:
- Establishing evidence to prove liability for the expenses and impacts of your injury
- Determining a value to your claim
- Determining available insurance resources that can be used to compensate you
- Litigating your case in court or negotiating an out-of-court settlement
- Assisting you in collecting your award or settlement
To learn more about the legal process of seeking compensation for your injuries, contact us today.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Amount of Property Damage Requires You to Report a Boating Accident Under Florida Law?
Per Florida law, you must report a boating accident if property damage is worth at least $2,000.
What Is the Law for a Boating Accident in Florida?
In Florida, if a boating accident occurs, you must report it within 48 hours if anyone has been injured or killed or missing or if it’s resulted in property damage of $2,000 or greater.
Who Do You Report a Boating Accident to in Florida?
You must report a Florida boating accident to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). You can also report it to your local law enforcement authorities or the police department in the vicinity where the accident occurred.
What Is Considered Property Damage in Florida?
In a boating accident in Florida, property damage is considered damage to a vessel, dock, motor or any other property.
What Is the Minimum Amount for Property Damage Liability in Florida?
In Florida, the minimum amount for property damage liability is $2,000 for a boating accident.
What Is Mandatory to Have on a Boat in Florida?
In Florida, it’s mandatory to have a ventilation system, appropriately-sized fire extinguishers, Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices, sound-producing devices, visual distress signals, lighting equipment and backfire flame control on a boat.
What Is the First Action Required After a Boating Accident?
Ensuring everyone’s safety is the first action required after a boating accident.
What to Do in a Boating Accident in Florida
After a boating accident in Florida, you should ensure everyone’s safety, get to a safe location, call for help, seek medical attention, exchange information, document the scene, notify your insurance company, report the accident, get an inspection and repairs, cooperate with investigations and review safety measures.
What Is a Reportable Accident in Florida?
Any accident resulting in injuries or death or property damage greater than $2,000 is considered reportable in Florida.
How Much Does Property Damage Liability Cover in Florida?
In a Florida boating accident, a homeowner’s policy can provide $1,000 for damages, but insurance may not always apply.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Property Damage in Florida?
Florida’s statute of limitations for property damage is two years.
Where Do I Report an Accident in Florida?
To report a boating accident in Florida, contact the FWC.
Is Boater Safety Required in Florida?
Florida law requires individuals born on or after January 1, 1988 who wish to operate a boat of at least 10 horsepower to successfully complete a boating safety course.